Flexibility arrangements in the African Union: a way out of the integration conundrum?

In: Africa Review
Babatunde Fagbayibo Department of Public, Constitutional and International Law, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

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The transformation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) to the African Union (AU) in 2002 was seen as a positive development in the process of continental integration in Africa. With an institutional architecture largely inspired by the European Union (EU) model, the AU was positioned to infuse new and vibrant energy into the stagnated process of achieving deeper unity. After a decade of existence, little has been achieved in terms of deepening continental integration. It is against this background that this article considers the feasibility of adopting legal frameworks for flexibility arrangements in the AU. What this implies is the establishment of legal arrangements that could enable member states with similar interests to pursue integrative objectives at a determinable and attainable pace and speed. This article examines the possibility of placing key integrative objectives such as democratic governance, trade and immigration within the context of a flexibility approach. Lessons are drawn from the operation of flexibility arrangements in the EU, Asia and regional economic communities across the African continent to further buttress the essence of this idea.

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