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African Union

Regional Profile

Legal Framework

55 African states are members of the African Union (AU), established in 2002, replacing the Organization of African Unity. The purpose of the organization is multiple. It aims to: promote unity and solidarity amongst the African states; coordinate and intensify their cooperation and concerted efforts to achieve better life standards for Africa’s population at large; defend their sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence; eradicate all forms of colonialism in Africa; and promote international cooperation, having due regard to the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The AU is working to develop and implement regional action plans to strengthen protection, prevention and prosecution of trafficking in human beings, covering countries of origin, transit and destination. Successive Plans of Action have been and are in the process of being implemented.

Relevant legislation and policies

Resolution on establishing a strategic framework for a policy of migration in Africa (2001)

During the Ministerial Conference on Migration and Development, the Council of Ministers adopted Decision CM/Dec.34 (LXXIV), in order to formulate a Strategic Framework for a Policy on Migration in Africa, to the attention of all African heads of states.

Regional Plans of Action

Ouagadougou Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, Especially Women and Children ( 11/2006)

The Ouagadougou Plan of Action aims to establish general principles, to raise prevention and awareness, to set up protection and assistance in support of victims, to implement legislative frameworks and policy development, to improve law enforcement, and to establish cooperation and coordination between ratifying states.

Also see: the AU 2019 Evaluation report of implementation status of 2006 Ouagadougou Plan of Action

Migration Policy Framework for Africa and its Plan of Action (2018 – 2030)

The Migration Policy Framework for Africa (2018-2030) and its Plan of Action are a revision of the 2006 AU Migration Policy Framework adopted in Banjul (the Gambia). It provides guidelines regarding nine thematic areas: migration governance, labor migration and education, diaspora engagement, border governance, irregular migration, forced displacement, internal migration, migration and trade, as well as other issues. It aims to guide partner states and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in the management of migration and of the various dynamics related to it.

  • See: 5. Irregular      migration – (pages 48 to 57)

African Union meetings and sessions

Executive Council of the African Union – IX Ordinary Session – Decision EX.CL/276 (6/ 2006)

The above mentioned Migration Policy Framework for Africa (2018-2030), identified nine key thematic issues: labor migration, border management, irregular migration, forced displacement, human rights of migrants, internal migration, migration data, migration and development, inter-state cooperation and partnerships. It aims to provide a range of recommendations concerning various migration issues, so as to guide governments and RECs.

  • See: 2. Irregular      migration - (page 15 of the document)

African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention) (2009)

The Member States of the African Union in the Kampala Convention established national and regional measures to protect displaced persons, and more specifically women and children.

In particular, Article 9 of the Kampala Convention recites as follows: 

Assistance during Internal Displacement

States Parties shall protect the rights of internally displaced persons regardless of the cause of displacement by refraining from, and preventing, the following acts, amongst others:

[…[§d. Sexual and gender-based violence in all its forms, notably rape, enforced prostitution, sexual exploitation and harmful practices, slavery, recruitment of children and their use in hostilities, forced labor and human trafficking and smuggling; […]

African Union Convention on Cross-Border Cooperation (Niamey Convention) (2014)

The Niamey Convention has seven main objectives:

  • Promote cross-border      cooperation, at local, sub-regional and regional levels

  • Seize opportunities arising from common borders and address related challenges

  • Facilitate the delimitation, demarcation and reaffirmation of interstate borders, in      conformity with mechanisms agreed upon by the parties concerned

  • Facilitate the peaceful resolution of borders disputes

  • Ensure efficient and effective integrated border management

  • Transform border areas into catalysts for growth, socio economic and political integration across the continent

  • Promote peace and stability through conflict prevention, integration and increased unity

Common African Position on the Global Compact for safe, orderly and regular migration (10/2017)

Theme 2 or the Compact of the Common African Position on the Global Compact addresses human rights of all migrants, comprising social inclusion, and cohesion against all forms of discrimination - racism, xenophobia, gender discrimination and intolerance (See: page 12 of the document). Theme 3 covers smuggling of migrants, trafficking in persons and modern slavery (See: page 13 of the document).

International Cooperation

International cooperation instruments related to anti trafficking, smuggling, cross border and extradition treaties.

4th Pan-African Forum on Migration (19/1102018)

With the participation of the African Union Commission (AUC); the Intergovernmental Authority of Development (IGAD) and IOM, the Pan-African Forum on Migration (PAFoM) aimed to promote and deepen inter-state dialogue and intra/inter-regional cooperation on migration. PAFoM provides a platform for regional institutions based in Africa and their partners to share information on current migration trends, patterns and dynamics, emerging issues and reliable migration data – whether at national, regional and continental level, in order to find durable solutions to challenges related to migration in Africa.

The Forum’s objective is to enhance Africa’s regional frameworks on migration to facilitate intra-regional human mobility, free movement of persons and integrated border management by sharing knowledge, information, good practices, experiences and lessons learnt.

It is expected that the Forum will, inter alia, lead to the following outcomes:

  • A progress report on the implementation status of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, with clear recommendations on how the AU and other stakeholders can fast-track its ratification and implementation process

  • An update on different migration related activities undertaken by RECs and RCPs, with the goal of identifying potential areas of collaboration, benchmarking and sharing best practices among RECs within the framework of the Protocol on Free Movement of persons in Africa and other continental migration agendas

  • A common understanding of the African Union Migration Agenda and positions on various migration issues in the continent

  • The 2018 African Union Executive Council Decision EX.CL/Dec.987 (XXXII) adopted the revised Migration Policy Framework for Africa (MPFA) and its 12 Years Action Plan. The Decision further requested African Union Member States to align their Migration Policy Frameworks with the new continental framework including its Plan of Action. This decision is a follow up of the 2006 Executive Council Decision (EX.CL/276 (IX) on the Migration Policy Framework for Africa, and specifically requested the AU Commission to work with IOM and other relevant partners to assist Member States to strengthen migration governance and mutual collaboration. The Common African Position (CAP) on the Global Compact on safe, orderly and regular Migration, endorsed by the Executive Council and the AU Assembly in 2018, also provides a Policy Directive to AU Member States, namely to take one, unified position on all important issues on migration during intergovernmental negotiations on the subject.

African Union Mechanism for Police (AFRIPOL) (10-11 February 2014)

The African Union Mechanism for Police Cooperation was established at the Algiers meeting. Among its objectives, participating states agreed to work on border management and to fight trafficking in human beings.

Other useful reports:

  • 2019 Draft Report of The Evaluation of the Implementation Status of The African Union’s Ouagadougou Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings, especially Women and Children (2006) in Africa;

Other Instruments

Not available

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