Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma:
On 25 May 2013 we mark fifty years of growing co-operation with the Organization of African Unity and its successor the African Union (AU). It is my privilege to convey the congratulations of the Commonwealth and to express our solidarity with the continuing mission of the AU in furthering peace and prosperity amongst the peoples of Africa.
The AU theme this year, ‘Pan Africanism and African Renaissance’, expresses the hope of the founding visionaries, and the goals to which the leaders and people of the African continent still aspire, of renewing achievements and resolving to move forward to the opportunities that lie ahead, with raised expectations and high ambitions.
Africa increasingly forges its own solutions to contemporary national and regional challenges, and important gains have been made towards realising the Millennium Development Goals. The African Peer Review Mechanism, formed a decade ago, the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, and the African Peace and Security Architecture, are manifestations of Africa’s collective commitment to strengthen democratic governance and achieve social and economic development. Some of the world’s fastest-growing economies are now to be found in Africa.
Of the 54 member states of the Commonwealth worldwide, 19 are in Africa. We take encouragement from their economic and social progress over the past fifty years, with peaceful transitions of government through credible elections. These advances reflect our Commonwealth commitment to democracy, development, and respect for diversity.
Building on shared principles and values, and co-operating on practical action for collective global advances and human progress, we in the Commonwealth, together with the governments and people of all members of the African Union, can look forward to opening up new vistas of collaboration to bring prosperity with equity and brighter prospects for all.
The Commonwealth collectively joins in celebrating this golden anniversary, and we renew our commitment to working with Africa to advance all our shared values.
Mr Sharma joined other dignitaries in London recently to mark the 50th anniversary celebration of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU).
A reception to mark the historic anniversary was held in London on Friday, 17 May, hosted by the Dean of the African Union Heads of Mission, Roy Blackbeard.
The OAU's main objectives were, among others, to promote unity and solidarity among African states; to coordinate and intensify co-operation for development; to safeguard the sovereignty and territorial integrity of member states; to rid the continent of the remaining vestiges of colonisation and apartheid; and to promote international co-operation within the framework of the United Nations.
The reception also marked over ten years of the AU, which was established by African Heads of States and the OAU. The AU seeks to promote “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena.”