The African Union (AU) is a continental organization composed of 55 Member States representing the countries of the African continent. It was officially created in 2002 replacing an already existing continental organization namely the Organization of African Unity (OAU, 1963-1999). The OAU was firstly created in 1963 regrouping 32 Heads of independent African states giving light to the first post-independence continental organization for Africa. It constituted a shared vision of Pan -Africanism in which African countries would be represented through unity, freedom, equality, justice, and dignity for all African people. In 1999, the leaders of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) represented by the Head of States, issued a Sirte Declaration calling for the establishment of the African Union to hasten the process of integration on the continent in order to enable Africa to play a legitimate role in the world and addressing, therefore, a wide range of social, economic and political problems aggravated by certain negative aspects of globalization.
It’s in this sense, that the African Union (AU) was formally established in Durban, South Africa in July 2002. The decision to rebuild Africa's pan-African organization reflects on African leaders who believed that, in order to realize Africa's full potential, attention must be diverted from the struggle for decolonization and the continent's liberation from apartheid fought through the OAU, to enhance cooperation and integration among African countries to promote growth and economic development in Africa with a new established continental organization; the AU. Committed to the vision of “An integrated, Prosperous and Peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the global arena”, the AU strives among others to: achieve greater unity and solidarity between African countries and their people, defend the sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence of its Member States, accelerate the political and socio-economic integration of the continent; encourage international cooperation, promote peace, security, and stability on the continent, as well as democratic principles and institutions, popular participation and good governance, ensure the effective participation of women in decision-making, particularly in the political, economic and socio-cultural sphere.
Furthermore, to ensure all goals are met and that foreseen pan-African vision of an integrated, prosperous, and peaceful Africa is attaint, the AU developed Agenda 2063. An agenda that sets out strategies for the long-term socio-economic and inclusive development of Africa. A framework that calls for increased cooperation and support for African-led initiatives to guarantee that the ambitions of African people are fulfilled.
The AU Democracy and Electoral Assistance Unit (DEAU) is the operational unit within the DPAPS in charge of the implementation of the AU electoral assistance in terms of capacity building, credibility and transparency of elections and democratic consolidation in Africa. It plays a central role at the institutional-functional and empirical levels.
In its operations, the DEAU has developed key strategic partnerships in the past years, with several internationally recognized technical assistance providers such as International Idea or EISA (Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa) and African Leadership Foundation. The European Centre for Electoral Support is one of those.
The European Centre for Electoral Support - ECES - is an independent, non-partisan and not for profit foundation headquartered in Brussels with a global remit. ECES promotes sustainable democratic development through the provision of advisory services, operational support and
management of large projects in the electoral and democracy assistance field. ECES works with all electoral stakehold
ers, including "electoral management bodies, civil society organizations involved in voter education and election observation, political parties, parliaments, media, security forces, religious groups and legal institutions confronted with electoral disputes resolution".
ECES has crafted and copyrighted its strategy called "A European Response to Electoral Cycle Support - EURECS". This is an innovative and alternative delivery mechanism to implement electoral and democracy assistance activities that are consistent with European values and EU policies and targets the implementations of the recommendations of EU election observation missions and it is built to help prevent, mitigate and manage electoral related conflicts. EURECS is implemented via specific methodologies and tools developed and also copyrighted by ECES such as its Standard Operation Procedures, the Communication & Visibility Guidelines, the Electoral Political Economy Analyses, the project approach to contribute Preventing Election-related Conflicts and Potential Violence, and the cascade training curriculum called "Leadership and Conflict Management Skills for Electoral Stakeholders, LEAD".
ECES is also part of a consortium led by the College of Europe to implement the European Respons on Mediation Support Project (ERMES) to provide a tool for the EU to advance its objectives and role in the field of mediation and dialogue. The project will be implemented under the supervision of the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments of the European Commission and in close consultation with the Mediation Support Team of the European External Action Services which will ensure the political steer. The ERMES project office will be within ECES headquarters' premises in Brussels. ECES is also a member of the Federation of European and International Association established in Belgium (FAIB) and is part of the EU Transparency Register and of the Transnational Giving Group.