Monday, May 3, 2010


European Union

The European Union (EU) is an economic and

political union of 27 member states, located

primarily in Europe. Committed to regional

integration, the EU was established by the Treaty of

Maastricht on 1 November 1993 upon the

foundations of the preexisting

European Economic

Community. With almost 500 million citizens, the

EU combined generates an estimated 30% share

(US$18.4 trillion in 2008) of the nominal gross

world product.

The EU has developed a single market through a standardised system of laws which apply in

all member states, ensuring the freedom of movement of people, goods, services, and capital.

It maintains common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development. A

common currency, the euro, has been adopted by sixteen member states that are thus known

as the Eurozone. The EU has developed a limited role in foreign policy, having representation

at the WTO, G8 summits, and at the UN.

The EU operates through a hybrid system of supranationalism and intergovernmentalism. In

certain areas, it depends upon agreement between the member states; in others, supranational

bodies are able to make decisions without unanimity. Important institutions and bodies of the

EU include the European Commission, the Council of the European Union, the European

Council, the European Court of Justice, and the European Central Bank. The European

Parliament is elected every five years by member states' citizens, to whom the citizenship of

the European Union is guaranteed.

The EU's work is divided into three areas of responsibility, called pillars. The original

European Community policies form the first pillar, while the second consists of Common

Foreign and Security Policy. The third pillar originally consisted of Justice and Home

Affairs, however owing to changes introduced by the Amsterdam and Nice treaties; it has

been reduced to Police and Judicial Cooperation

in Criminal Matters (other matters were

transferred to the Community). Broadly speaking, the second and third pillars can be

described as the intergovernmental pillars because the supranational institutions of the

Commission, Parliament and the Court of Justice play less of a role or none at all, while the

lead is taken by the intergovernmental Council of Ministers and the European Council (which

operate more by consensus then majority in these pillars). Most activities of the EU come

under the first, Community pillar. This is mostly an economically oriented pillar and is where

the supranational institutions have the most influence.


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The EU receives its political leadership from the European Council, which is composed

of one representative per member state—its head of state or head of government—plus

the President of the Commission. Each member state's representative is assisted by its

Foreign Minister. The Council uses its leadership role to sort out disputes which have arisen

between member states and the institutions, and to resolve political crises and disagreements

over controversial issues and policies.

The Council is headed by a rotating presidency, with every member state taking the helm

of the EU for a period of six months during which that country's representatives chair

meetings of the European Council and the Council of Ministers. The member state holding

the presidency typically uses it to drive a particular policy agenda such as economic reform,

reform of the EU itself, enlargement or furthering European integration. The Council usually

meets four times a year at European Summits.

Since its origin, the EU has established a single economic market across the territory of

all its members. Currently, a single currency is in use between the 16 members of the

eurozone. If considered as a single economy, the EU generated an estimated nominal

gross domestic product (GDP) of US$18.39 trillion (15.247 trillion international dollars

based on purchasing power parity) in 2008, amounting to over 22% of the world's total

economic output in terms of purchasing power parity, which makes it the largest economy

in the world by nominal GDP and the second largest trade bloc economy in the world by PPP

valuation of GDP. It is also the largest exporter, and largest importer of goods and services,

and the biggest trading partner to several large countries such as India and China.

African Union

The African Union is an intergovernmental

organisation consisting of 52 African states.

Established on July 9, 2002, the AU was formed as a

successor to the Organisation of African Unity

(OAU). The most important decisions of the AU are

made by the Assembly of the African Union, a semiannual

meeting of the heads of state and government

of its member states. The AU's secretariat, the

African Union Commission, is based in Addis

Ababa, Ethiopia. During the February 2009 Union

meeting headed by Libyan leader Gaddafi, it was

resolved that the African Union Commission would

become the African Union Authority.

Among the objectives of the AU's leading institutions are to accelerate the political and socio

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economic integration of the continent; to promote and defend African common positions on

issues of interest to the continent and its peoples; to achieve peace and security in Africa; and

to promote democratic institutions, good governance and human rights.

The African Union is made up of both political and administrative bodies. The highest


organ of the African Union is the Assembly, made up of all the heads of

state or government of member states of the AU. The Assembly is currently chaired by

Muammar alGaddafi,

leader of Libya, elected at the tenth ordinary meeting of the Assembly

in January 2009.

The AU covers the entire continent except for Morocco, which opposes the membership of

Western Sahara as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. However, Morocco has a special

status within the AU and benefits from the services available to all AU states from the

institutions of the AU, such as the African Development Bank.

Organisations of the AU

The African Union has a number of official bodies:


Parliament (PAP)


Parliament is to become the highest legislative body of the African Union. The

seat of the PAP is at Midrand, South Africa. The Parliament is composed of 265 elected

representatives from all 53 AU states, and intended to provide popular and civilsociety

participation in the processes of democratic governance.

Assembly of the African Union

Composed of heads of state and heads of government of AU states, the Assembly is currently

the supreme governing body of the African Union. It is gradually devolving some of its


powers to the Pan African Parliament. It meets once a year and makes its

decisions by consensus or by a twothirds


African Union Authority

African Union Authority is the secretariat of the African Union, composed of ten

commissioners and supporting staff. In a similar fashion to its European counterpart, the

European Commission, it is responsible for the administration and coordination

of the AU's

activities and meetings.


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African Court of Justice

The Constitutive Act provides for a Court of Justice to rule on disputes over interpretation

of AU treaties. A protocol to set up the Court of Justice was adopted in 2003, but has not yet

entered into force: it is likely to be superseded by a protocol creating a Court of Justice and

Human Rights, which will incorporate the already established African Court of Justice and

Human and Peoples' Rights and have two chambers—one for general legal matters and one

for rulings on the human rights treaties.

Executive Council

Executive Council is composed of ministers designated by the governments of member

states. It decides on matters such as foreign trade, social security, food, agriculture and

communications, is accountable to the Assembly, and prepares material for the Assembly to

discuss and approve.

Permanent Representatives' Committee

Permanent Representatives' Committee is consisting of nominated permanent

representatives of member states; the Committee prepares the work for the Executive


Peace and Security Council (PSC)

Peace and Security Council (PSC) is proposed at the Lusaka Summit in 2001 and

established in 2004 under a protocol to the Constitutive Act adopted by the AU Assembly in

July 2002. The protocol defines the PSC as a collective security and early warning

arrangement to facilitate timely and effective response to conflict and crisis situations in

Africa. Other responsibilities conferred to the PSC by the protocol include prevention,

management and resolution of conflicts, postconflict

peace building and developing

common defence policies. The PSC has fifteen members elected on a regional basis by the


Economic, Social and Cultural Council

An advisory organ composed of professional and civic representatives, similar to the

European Economic and Social Committee. The chair of ECOSOCC, elected in 2008, is

Cameroonian lawyer Akere Muna of the PanAfrican

Lawyers Union (PALU).

Specialized Technical Committees

Both the Abuja Treaty and the Constitutive Act provide for Specialised Technical

Committees to be established made up of African ministers to advise the Assembly. In

practice, they have never been set up. The ten proposed themes are: Rural Economy and

Agricultural Matters; Monetary and Financial Affairs; Trade, Customs, and Immigration;

Industry, Science and Technology; Energy, Natural Resources, and Environment; Transport,


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Communications, and Tourism; Health; Labour, and Social Affairs; Education, Culture, and

Human Resources.

Financial institutions

African Central Bank – Abuja, Nigeria

African Investment Bank – Tripoli, Libya

African Monetary Fund – Yaounde, Cameroon.

These institutions have not yet been established, however, the Steering Committees working

on their founding have been constituted. Eventually, the AU aims to have a single currency

(the Afro).

Human rights

The African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights, in existence since 1986, is

established under the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (the African Charter)

rather than the Constitutive Act of the African Union. It is the premier African human rights

body, with responsibility for monitoring and promoting compliance with the African Charter.

The African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights was established in 2006 to supplement the

work of the Commission, following the entry into force of a protocol to the African Charter

providing for its creation. It is planned that the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights

will be merged with the African Court of Justice.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations,

commonly abbreviated ASEAN in English, is a


and economic organization of 10

countries located in Southeast Asia, which was

formed on 8 August 1967 by Indonesia,

Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and

Thailand. Since then, membership has expanded

to include Brunei, Burma (Myanmar),

Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Its aims include

the acceleration of economic growth, social

progress, cultural development among its

members, the protection of the peace and stability of the region, and to provide opportunities

for member countries to discuss differences peacefully.

In 2005, the bloc spanned over an area of 4.46 million km with a combined GDP of about

USD$896.5 billion growing at an average rate of around 5.6% per annum. Nominal GDP had

grown to USD $1.4 trillion in 2008.


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ASEAN was preceded by an organization called the Association of Southeast Asia,

commonly called ASA, an alliance consisting of the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand that

was formed in 1961.

The motivations for the birth of ASEAN were the desire for a stable external environment (so

that its members' governing elite could concentrate on nation building), the common fear of

communism, reduced faith in or mistrust of external powers in the 1960s, as well as the

aspiration for national economic development; not to mention Indonesia's ambition to

become a regional hegemony through regional cooperation and the hope on the part of

Malaysia and Singapore to constrain Indonesia and bring it into a more cooperative

framework. Unlike the European Union, ASEAN was designed to serve nationalism.

The ASEAN way can be traced back to the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation

in South East Asian. "Fundamental principles adopted from this included: mutual respect for

the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all

nations; the right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference,

subversion or coercion; noninterference

in the internal affairs of one another; settlement of

differences or disputes by peaceful manner; renunciation of the threat or use of force; and

effective cooperation among themselves".

All of these features, namely noninterference,

informality, minimal institutionalisation,

consultation and consensus, nonuse

of force and nonconfrontation

have constituted what is

called the ASEAN Way.

Since the late 1990s, many scholars have argued that the principle of noninterference


blunted ASEAN efforts in handling the problem of Myanmar, human rights abuses and haze

pollution in the region. Meanwhile, with the consensusbased

approach, every member in fact

has a veto and decisions are usually reduced to the lowest common denominator. There has

been a widespread belief that ASEAN members should have a less rigid view on these two

cardinal principles when they wish to be seen as a cohesive and relevant community.


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Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth of Nations, often

referred to as the Commonwealth and

previously as the British

Commonwealth, is an

intergovernmental organisation of


independent member states.

Most of them were formerly part of the

British Empire. They cooperate


a framework of common values and

goals as outlined in the Singapore

Declaration. These include the promotion of democracy, human rights, good governance, the

rule of law, individual liberty, egalitarianism, free trade, multilateralism and world peace.

The Commonwealth traces its origins to the Statute of Westminster 1931. It is not a political

union, but an intergovernmental organisation through which countries with diverse social,

political and economic backgrounds are regarded as equal in status. Its activities are carried

out through the permanent Commonwealth Secretariat, headed by the SecretaryGeneral;

biennial Meetings between Commonwealth Heads of Government; and the Commonwealth

Foundation, which facilitates activities of nongovernmental

organisations in the socalled

'Commonwealth Family'.

The Commonwealth's objectives were first outlined in the 1971 Singapore Declaration, which

committed the Commonwealth to the institution of world peace; promotion of representative

democracy and individual liberty; the pursuit of equality and opposition to racism; the fight

against poverty, ignorance, and disease; and free trades To these were added opposition to

discrimination on the basis of gender by the Lusaka Declaration of 1979 (which mostly

concerned racism), and environmental sustainability by the Langkawi Declaration of 1989.

These objectives were reinforced by the Harare Declaration in 1991.

The Commonwealth's current highestpriority

aims are on the promotion of democracy and

development, as outlined in the 2003 Aso Rock Declaration, which built on those in

Singapore and Harare and clarified their terms of reference, stating: "We are committed to

democracy, good governance, human rights, gender equality, and a more equitable sharing of

the benefits of globalisation."


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