The African Union (AU) is a struggle site of African and international interests, actors and norms. This panel unpacks the norm and power dynamics of the AU and its broader regional political space. Contributions will chart the AU's agency within African politics and beyond in international affairs.
This panel offers an interdisciplinary perspective on the rhetoric, politics and practices in and around the African Union (AU). 15 years into its existence, the organisation has become the site of struggle between a diverse set of actors, norms and interests. In theory, the AU is the organisational beacon of African decolonisation. In reality, the pan-African decolonial impetus is embedded in a complex regional political space made up of postcolonial statehood, foreign donors, African elites and AU bureaucrats, which each influence how the AU's decolonial normative promise is concretised. The AU therefore merits more critical scholarship to unpack power and norms in and around the organisation. This panel engages in the on-going debate on 'African agency' at a concrete and theoretically informed level, and elucidates how the AU mediates, advances or paradoxically obstructs decolonial African unity. Drawing from political science, IR and legal studies, the panel contributions (a) dissect the norms and power dynamics of the AU as a novel normative actor, (b) show how external actors influence the AU's normativity, and (c) chart the AU's complex and novel role in global international affairs.