Its intended purpose was to promote the unity and solidarity of the African States and act as a collective voice for the continent. It was also dedicated to the eradication of colonialism and established a Liberation Committee to aid independence movements.
Its headquarters were established at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Charter of the Organization was signed by 32 independent African States. At the time of its disbanding, 53 out of the 54 countries in Africa were members, Morocco left in 1985 following the admission of Western Sahara in 1982.
Though widely derided as a bureaucratic "talking shop" with little power, Ghanaian United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan praised the OAU for bringing Africans together. Nevertheless, in its 39 years of existence critics argue that the OAU did little to protect the rights and liberties of African citizens from their own political leaders.
Autonomous Specialized Agencies working under the auspices of the OAU were: