At the end of World War II in 1945, nearly every country in Africa was subject to colonial rule or administration. With the founding of the UN in 1945 and its massive decolonization effort, Africa is independent. Today, the African Union boasts 54 independent member States.
This newly autonomous Africa faces massive challenges, including extreme poverty, illness, desertification, malnutrition and the awful toll taken by ongoing regional conflict. It has been a long hard struggle. And as good neighbors, the global community is there to help.
Through its unique capacities as the world’s premiere vehicle for international cooperation, the UN system plays a crucial role in coordinating assistance of all kinds — to help Africa help itself. From promoting the development of democratic institutions, to the establishment of peace between warring nations, the UN is present on the ground supporting economic and social development and the promotion and protection of human rights.
In this effort, the UN works closely with Africa’s regional cooperation mechanisms and has six active peacekeeping operations at present. UN peacekeepers serve in two missions in Sudan, including one in Darfur (with the African Union), in Côte d'Ivoire, Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Western Sahara.
To advance its support for Africa even further, the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on Africa was established in 2003 to enhance international support for African development and security and to improve coordination of UN system support. It also works to facilitate global deliberations on Africa, particularly with respect to the New Partnership for Africa’s Development — a strategic framework adopted by African leaders in 2001.
Africa Day is an annual commemoration of the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963. On that day 32 independent African states signed the founding charter in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. In 2002, the OAU became the African Union. Africa Day is celebrated around the world.