African Union AU

GROUP: Regional Bodies

  • Topic A: International Intellectual Property Rights
  • Topic B: Anti-Trust Policy

TOPIC A International Intellectual Property Rights

TOPIC B Anti-Trust Policy



  • Benjamin O’Donnell (he/him)
  • Nora Levy (she/her)
  • Pratyush Sharma (he/him)
Email Committee Chair

The African Union (AU) is a diplomatic body consisting of the 55 sovereign states in Africa. The African Union was officially launched in 2002 but the core principles were announced in the September 9th, 1999 Sirte announcement. In this declaration, various leaders of a previous pan-African conference declared their intention to create a new body to refocus attention from the fight for decolonization (the stated goal of the predecessor organization) towards the main goals of the new African Union: increasing cooperation and integration of African states to drive Africa’s growth and economic development. Accordingly, this committee will ask delegates to focus on questions of economic development. Specifically, delegates will consider how to balance foreign investment and domestic innovation with the benefits of adopting foreign technologies as well as how governments should approach foreign and particularly intercontinentally owned monopolies.

Topic A: International Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property, most commonly in the form of patents, is a core tenet of most modern economies. For investors to be willing to put funding into critical research and innovative new industries that will be the core of independent African development, they will need to feel secure that they will able to recoup or make money on their new technologies. As delegates, you are asked to weigh the incentives for future innovation and the development of domestic technologies with the massive potential benefits—and the lifting of oppressive economic restrictions in some cases—of bypassing intellectual property protections for the health and economic benefits cheap access to foreign technologies will bring.

Topic B: Anti-Trust Policy

One lasting legacy of the colonial development of Africa is that foreign multinational corporations hold significant sway over many key industries in African economies. There are several key examples of this trend, for a variety of reasons. The first large category is large food-based monopolies on popular processed foods as well as key agricultural products. These monopolies are traditional in that they’ve formed in industries with large returns to scale (for instance a variety of Agricultural monopolies) or the popularity and market dominance of a specific brand or pair of companies (such as Western soft drinks). These monopolies are problematic as they raise the cost of food for consumers on the continent and primarily persist as a result of domestic economic conditions. The second category of foreign monopoly is in industries such as mining. These industries are primarily present in Africa as a holdover from colonial-era exploitation: while African states may have achieved political sovereignty, many national economies are still heavily dependent on the exports of a few large corporations in export-first industries like precious stones and metals. Finally, foreign technology firms dominate the hardware, software, and biomedical industries of the continent. These monopolies are driven by a lack of a significant African technology industry, as well as limited access to advanced semiconductor production. Delegates to the African Union will be asked to debate how the regional body will respond to these issues, and will also have to balance the benefits of collective bargaining with the independence and sovereignty of member states.