OAU and SAARC at a Glance

By | October 16, 2021


Note: This website remains in our offer because of its historical significance. The African Union – very far ahead (!) -proclaimed the “Agenda 2063” project in 2013 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the founding of the OAU.


According to POLYHOBBIES.COM, the OAU was founded in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) in May 1963 by the heads of state of then 30 independent African states. It was on 08/09. July 2002 transformed into the new African Union (AU), which was established in mid-2001.

The goals of the OAU were

Promoting the unity and solidarity of African states; Coordination of intra-African and worldwide cooperation; Defense of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the member states.

However, the OAU was not a defense alliance. The OAU is financed by the Member States (with high contribution arrears).

Members (53)

Members of the OAU were 52 African states and, since 1982, the not yet generally recognized Democratic Arab Republic of the Sahara (DARS), also known as Western Sahara. Morocco resigned in 1985 due to the full membership status of the DARS.

Note: After the conversion of the OAU into the AU, South Sudan was accepted as the youngest African country in 2011 (AU54). Morocco joined the AU in 2017 (AU55).


The unification efforts, in particular to establish an African Economic Community, failed.

Not least in view of the recent political upheavals and conflicts in Central Africa, the powerlessness and inefficiency of the OAU, whose cohesion was previously based primarily on the common goal of decolonization and the opposition to the apartheid regime in South Africa, became clear.

The creation of an African intervention force was discussed repeatedly, but never came about.

A basic dilemma of the OAU was the premise not to interfere in the internal affairs of a member state.



SAARC is a regional organization founded in 1985 by Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. At the end of 2005, the admission of Afghanistan to SAARC was decided. At the same time, China and Japan were granted observer status. South Korea and the USA applied for observer status in March 2006. SAARC has been an observer at the United Nations since December 2004.


Cooperation in economic, technical and cultural areas, especially in the areas of free trade, agriculture and rural development, the environment and forestry, human resources development and transport.

Member States (8)

· Afghanistan· Bangladesh

· Bhutan

· India

· Maldives· Nepal

· Pakistan

· Sri Lanka

Observer (9)
Australia, China, Iran, Japan, Mauritius, Myanmar, South Korea, USA and the European Union.


  • Summit meetings of the heads of state and government usually every 1-2 years in the country of the respective SAARC chairmanship
  • Council of Foreign Ministers of the member states, which meet at least twice a year
  • Secretariat based in Kathmandu, Nepal, headed by a SAARC Secretary General elected every three years by the SAARC Council of Ministers.

There are also working groups in areas such as information technology, tourism, energy, etc. In SAARC, the principle of unanimity applies.

Activities (selection)

In January 2004, the 12th SAARC summit took place in Pakistan, which resulted in a high-profile meeting of the heads of state of India and Pakistan. On January 1, 2006, the 2004 agreement to create a free trade area, the South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA), came into force. SAFTA has been ratified by all member states.

The last summit took place in 2014, the last ministerial meeting took place in 2016. The 19th SAARC summit, due to be held in Pakistan in 2016, was canceled after India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan decided to boycott it. Since all decisions have to be taken unanimously, a summit meeting of a few states made no sense.

The 20th meeting is planned for 2019 in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Whether this will happen in view of the tensions between India and Pakistan remains to be seen…


The creation of a South Asian free trade area is a milestone in regional cooperation on an economic level. The great imbalance between small states like Bhutan and the Maldives on the one hand and the potential world power India on the other hand remains a handicap.

It remains to be seen whether SAFTA can help to weaken the political differences – especially between India and Pakistan. If this succeeds, ASEAN will certainly face considerable competition.

comparison of memberships

Each of the 8 member states
• Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
• South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC)

The two states that have been represented in both organizations since 2017 are India and Pakistan.