50 years of pan-African integration

Since its creation 50 years ago in 1963, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which evolved into the more powerful African Union in 2002, has devoted a major part of its efforts to resolving the numerous conflicts that dotted the continent.

The OAU's main objectives was to end colonialism from the African continent.

However, the OAU was wound down in favour of the AU because it was widely considered by heads of state to have outlived its usefulness. Since its inception, Africa has been wracked by coups d'etat and civil war despite numerous mediation missions by the body.

Key dates:

- May 22-25, 1963: The OAU is set up by 32 founding heads of state and government in Addis Ababa to promote unity among newly-independent states. The central tenet of the Charter of African Unity is respect for each country's sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in internal affairs.

- July 17-21, 1964: The first official summit of the OAU, whose headquarters are established in Addis Ababa, reaffirms the principle of the inviolability of frontiers inherited from the colonial era.

- 1967-1969: The Biafra war in Nigeria dominates annual OAU meetings, blocking the activities of the organisation, which is increasingly confronted by domestic and regional conflicts.

- November 12-15, 1984: The disputed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara), sits as a full member of the OAU for the first time, leading Morocco to suspend its membership.

- June 3-5, 1991: Signature of a treaty setting up the African Economic Community.

- July 12-14, 1999: The OAU condemns the use of force for settling disputes and threatens to exclude perpetrators of coups.

- July 8-9, 2002: Leaders meeting in Durban, South Africa, bring the curtain down on the OAU and launch the AU. Based loosely on the European Union (EU), its creation had been announced in 2001 in Sirte, Libya, the brainchild of the host country's then leader Moamer Kadhafi.

- May 25, 2004: The AU creates the Peace and Security Council, based on the model of the UN Security Council and authorised to send in a stand-by peacekeeping force drawn from African armies in the event of a conflict.

- July 28, 2011: South Sudan becomes the AU's 54th member state, less than a month after its independence.

- July 15-16, 2012: South Africa's Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma becomes head of the key executive AU Commission, after a six-month impasse over the job which divides the continent.