What is the African Union and has it proven to be successful?

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As Barack Obama is due to give a speech to the African Union, Cate Gower explains what the organisation is and how it is helping the continent

What is the African Union?

The AU was founded on September 9, 1999 with the view to accelerate the process of integration within the continent so that it may play a more prominent role in the global economy whilst addressing social, economic and political problems.

The AU’s predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, looked to create unity and solidarity among African states. It enabled member states to coordinate development and promote cooperation within the UN framework. Many of these remain ingrained in the AU’s mission. Continue reading

European Leaders Demand Regime Change in Iran

Call on Iran to allow international inspectors to take inventory of Iranian military sites

Some 200 European officials are calling for Iran’s hardline Islamic government to be dissolved and for the country to allow international inspectors to take inventory of all Iranian sites suspected of housing an illicit nuclear weapons program, according to a letter sent to European Union (EU) Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini on Tuesday.

The delegation, comprised of 221 members of the European Parliament from 28 EU member states, slams Iran’s “destructive meddling” throughout the region and criticizes its human rights record, which is ranked among the worst in the world. Continue reading

China Using Psychiatric Treatment as Punishment for Political Dissident

Xing Shiku tortured ‘with chains’ and ‘electric shocks’ in psychiatric hospital

The Chinese government routinely uses psychiatric confinements as a tool to control dissidents, a Chinese human rights group said on Monday.

Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) highlighted the case of Xing Shiku, a Chinese petitioner who has been involuntarily detained at the Daowai District Psychiatric Hospital in Harbin City since February 2007.

CHRD says Xing was arrested in Beijing for filing complaints to government authorities about corruption and labor violations that occurred due to the privatization of the state-owned company where he once worked. He was then immediately transferred to the psychiatric hospital in northeast China.

The Chinese government claimed that Xing suffered from schizophrenia and “could have posed a threat to or adversely affected the maintenance of public order in Beijing.” CHRD maintains that doctors at the hospital have acknowledged that he does not suffer from any mental illness.

The group said Xing’s detention is politically motivated. Continue reading