The African Union (AU) At Twenty: Advances, Challenges, and Future Opportunities

By Toyin Falola


Thabo Mbeki, former South African President.

I am glad to be back in South Africa. The retreat of the COVID pandemic is renewing our established connections and cooperation. I am equally happy that the Thabo Mbeki Foundation has chosen, as its focus for 2022, the history and evaluation of the African Union which was officially launched twenty years ago in South Africa.

The African Union (AU), Africa’s foremost continental organisation, has come of age. Some twenty years ago, in July of 2002, this prestigious African institution came into being in continuance of the Pan-African vision of an independent, united and prosperous Africa shared by the continent’s independent leadership for which they set up its parent institution, the Organization of African Unity (OAU). This occasion of the commemoration of the African Union’s twentieth anniversary provides an opportunity for all of Africa to come together and listen to one other as a way of determining how well the continental organisation has fared in achieving the goals for which it was set up; what challenges have limited its success; how to surmount these challenges; and what opportunities there are in a fully operational continental organisation in today’s global geopolitics.

The establishment of the OAU on May 25, 1963, marked the culmination of diverse and far-reaching political trends on and off the continent. Its ideological basis can be found in the late nineteenth century Pan-Africanist movement, which had its origins amongst Black American Intellectuals—Martin Delany and Alexander Crummel—in the United States of America (USA). Canvassing for a Black nation independent of the USA as the only means to ensuring the prosperity of Black peoples, their ideas caught on and were further developed by W. E. B Du Bois and Marcus Garvey, who urged a return to the continent. The Pan-African idea was picked up and advanced on the continent by several prominent intellectuals and heads of state, including Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Julius Nyerere of Tanzania, Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia, and Sekou Toure of Guinea. These individuals provided practical expressions of Pan-African ideals in Africa, applying them to the African reality of colonial subjugation and other forms of foreign oppression.

Therefore, when the Heads of Africa’s thirty-two independent states gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to sign the OAU Charter in 1963, it was with a common belief that for Africa to achieve its potential and aspirations, it must be free from external control, and its peoples must rise above racial, ethnic, and national differences and work together cooperatively in the spirit of brotherhood and solidarity. As a result, Article II of the OAU’s founding Charter included an agenda to promote African unity and solidarity; coordinate and intensify their cooperation and efforts to achieve a better life for Africa’s people; protect their sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence; obliterate all forms of colonialism in Africa; and encourage international cooperation, with due regard for the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Armed with a pledge of cooperation in all aspects of social endeavour, politics, economics, education, health, science, and defence by member states, the OAU immediately embarked upon what was then the foremost obstacle to its agenda of a united and prosperous Africa—the struggle for the independence of all African states under colonialism and other forms of foreign oppression (apartheid). In this regard, the OAU Coordinating Committee for the Liberation of Africa swung into action, organising diplomatic, financial, and logistical support for liberation movements wherever they existed in Africa. The organisation was involved in the independence agitation of Guinea Bissau, Angola, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Namibia (former South West Africa) and the struggle against the apartheid regime in South Africa. It was also active in defending its member nations’ integrity and sovereignty and resolving border disputes. This impact was especially observed in the Congo, where strategic raw materials have always been a source of unrest, in Nigeria during a civil war that threatened the unity of the Federal Republic, and in Egypt during the 1967 Israeli occupation.

Another landmark achievement of the OAU was the ambition to create an economically integrated Africa. In this instance, it was instrumental to the establishment of Regional Economic Communities (RECS), notably the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMMESA), the South African Development Coordinating Commission (SADCC), and the Arab Maghreb Union. In addition, it established the African Economic Community (AEC) in 1991, which was expected to expand into a common market, a customs union, and an African monetary union.

Notwithstanding the OAU’s commendable achievements, its membership identified a need to refocus the organisation’s attention away from its decolonisation agenda and more towards promoting peace and stability as a prerequisite to an eventual political and economic integration that will ensure African interests in an increasingly geopolitically quartered world. To that effect, the Heads of Government of the OAU came to a consensus and issued the Sirte Declaration of September 1999, calling for the establishment of an African Union that would accelerate the process of integration on the continent to enable her to compete favourably in a changing global economy and address any social and political challenges arising from globalisation. Thus, the African Union (AU) came into exist3ence in 2002.

The AU was established with a vision to achieve “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena.” Hence, the birth of the AU marked a shift in the focus of Africa’s foremost pan-African institution away from mainly the support of anti-colonial and anti-apartheid (liberation) movements to the task of greater integration for expedited development. Among the AU’s stated goals are: achieving greater unity and solidarity among African countries and peoples; defending the territorial integrity and independence of its member states; accelerating the continent’s political and socio-economic integration; and promoting common positions on issues of concern to the continent and its peoples; promoting sustainable economic, political, and cultural development; fostering cooperation in all fields of human endeavour to raise African peoples’ living standards; protecting and promoting human and people’s rights in accordance with the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights; and promoting peace, security, and stability on the continent.

In pursuance of its mandate, the AU has recorded reasonable successes through direct contributions and international community collaborations. It has been active in minimising and settling conflicts in conflict-prone areas like Somalia and Sudan, successfully arbitrated post-election violent conflicts in Kenya, Comoros and Cote de’ Ivoire, and has intervened in coup situations by ensuring a return back to civilian rule. Unrestricted by the OAU’s ‘non-interference’ concept, the AU has reserved the authority, through its Peace and Security Council, to intervene in the domestic affairs of member nations to promote peace and safeguard democracy, even employing military action in circumstances of genocide and crimes against humanity. Through its voluntary ‘Peer Review Mechanism’, whereby individual member states concede to be assessed by a group of experts collected from other member states, the AU has been able to encourage democracy and good governance on the continent. The AU has also established a practice of sending election monitoring teams (Observer Missions) to all member states to guarantee that the terms of the African Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance (2007) are followed.

The AU has demonstrated strategic leadership on the continent. Africa has presented a common front on several issues that have shaped global debates and decisions through its activities. It had some impact on the terms of engagement between the UN and regional organisations. By achieving an African consensus, it has been able to drum support for African candidates vying for positions in international organisations, such as Nigeria’s Okonjo Iweala as Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Ethiopia’s Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as Secretary-General of the World Health Organization, and Rwanda’s Louise Mushikiwabo as Secretary-General of the Organization Internationale de la Francophonie. The AU has also demonstrated commendable leadership and served as an advisor to governments and intergovernmental agencies.

In pursuit of its agenda of African prosperity, the AU put necessary declarations and institutions that promote economic integration among its fifty-four member states. It has established development organisations such as the African Union Development Agency (NEPAD) and progressive frameworks such as the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and Agenda 2063. There have been proposals for an African Monetary Union and an African Central Bank, even though these have not seen a political will by member states to bring them to fruition. The AU also made considerable efforts to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccines are available to its member states.

Financial dependence, poorly governed states and a constant push for reforms have been identified as some of the impediments to the AU’s progress. Other factors identified include the development of the ‘cult of personality, concentration of power in the office of the chairperson of the commission and the shrinking spaces for popular participation in decision making.’ The AU exhibited some flaws in its decision-making when it relocated its July 2012 bi-annual summit from Lilongwe, Malawi, to Addis Ababa for the former’s refusal to invite Omar al-Bashar because he had been charged with war crimes by the International Criminal Court of Justices (ICC). Also reprehensible is its practice of appointing leaders with questionable democratic credentials as chairpersons. Other issues that cast aspersion on the AU’s image and performance include its inability to find a lasting solution to Africa’s teeming educated and unemployed youths, the recent resurgence of coups and violent conflicts, and its romance with China, which has seen the latter gain increasing and unbalanced concessions on the continent.

Many untapped opportunities can be gained from an objective, independent, and people-oriented continental union. Without some of the AU’s encumbrances—vested interests and constitutional limitations—the continental organisation can do much more to ensure good governance, peace, stability and economic prosperity through extensive collaborative networks that transcend any cultural, national, and regional divide. To achieve this, the AU must be seen to uphold the highest standards and be more people-oriented.

Let me close this conversation by thanking the former President Thabo Mbeki, the Mbeki Foundation, and The Thabo Mbeki School for the honour of inviting me to address various groups. I thank the students for listening to me.

*Prof Falola’s delivered this address at a forum in honour of Mr. Thabo Mbeki, former South African President.

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12 of the best movies by Black creators to watch on Netflix now

Actors get all the attention, but to make a movie truly great, you need a winning combination of writers, directors, and producers, as well as onscreen talent. To make a strong film that authentically portrays its Black characters, you need Black creatives in those decision-making positions. It’s a very simple concept, people!

To shed a little more light on the incredible writers, directors, and producers that put their hearts and souls into crafting our favorite flicks, we’ve put together a list of must-see movies on Netflix made by Black creators — and we’ve done the same for TV shows. Time to load up that queue.

1. Mudbound

A woman gazes forward in "Mudbound"

Credit: Steve Dietl

Based on the novel of the same name, Mudbound follows two American soldiers (Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell) who return from WWII changed men. Their rural Mississippi town, however, has not evolved with them. 

Director Dee Rees became the first Black woman ever nominated for a best adapted screenplay Academy Award for the exceptional script, which she wrote alongside Virgil Williams. Mary J Blige also garnered both a best supporting actress and a best original song nomination — the first time in history someone has been nominated for an acting and song award in the same year. Mudbound is a riveting and deeply affecting historical drama about two intertwined families navigating an era of intense social change.

How to watch: Mudbound is streaming on Netflix.

J.T. Holt, Regina King, Zazie Beetz, and Justin Clarke stand in a Western set in costume.

Do not mess with Treacherous Trudy.
Credit: David Lee / Netflix

Directed by Jeymes Samuel, The Harder They Fall, not only boasts an incredible cast — Jonathan Majors, Idris Elba, Regina King, Zazie Beetz, LaKeith Stanfield, and Delroy Lindo — but defiantly reclaims the Western, even before the opening credits roll. A tale of heroes and villains, the film follows Nat Love (Majors), on a quest for revenge against the formidable Rufus Buck (Elba). But he’ll have to make his gunslinging way through “Treacherous” Trudy Smith (Regina King) and Cherokee Bill (Stanfield).

As Mashable’s Kristy Puchko writes in her review, “Bursting with dazzling Black stars, the Netflix-made Western introduces some of the fascinating Black cowpokes who made their mark on the Wild West. Co-writer/director Jeymes Samuel resurrects their legends with style, attitude, and an opening title card that teases, ‘While the events of this story are fictional…These. People. Existed.'” — Shannon Connellan, UK Editor.

How to watch: The Harder They Fall is now streaming on Netflix.

3. See You Yesterday

A girl works on an electronic project in a garage.

C.J. Walker (Eden Duncan-Smith) tinkering on her time machine.
Credit: Netflix

Eden Duncan-Smith is C.J. Walker, a gifted high school science prodigy who ventures to build a time machine after her brother is killed by the police. With the help of her best friend, she tries to save her brother’s life — but she’ll soon learn that changing the past doesn’t come without consequences. 

Written by Fredrica Bailey and Stefon Bristol, and directed by Bristol, this science-fiction adventure is the perfect combination of teenage hijinks and emotional depth. We’re on one hell of a ride, but we never forget the stakes these young characters are facing. It’s captivating, fun, and a much-needed fresh take on a classic genre. Science-fiction films that center Black lives and Black stories have long been a rarity, but with more A+ entries like See You Yesterday, they’ll hopefully become the norm. 

How to watch: See You Yesterday is streaming on Netflix.

4. She’s Gotta Have It

Spike Lee, the director of She's Gotta Have It, poses at the Greenwich Village Theater in New York on Sept. 28, 1986.

Spike Lee at New York’s Greenwich Village Theater in 1986.
Credit: Ted Dully / The Boston Globe via Getty Images

​​Thirty-one years before it was a Netflix series, She’s Gotta Have It was the daring comedy that launched Spike Lee’s career and became a landmark in America’s emerging independent film scene. Filmed on a tight budget on black-and-white stock, this Lee joint centers on Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns), a charming Brooklyn-based graphic artist who is juggling three lovers. When these jealous men demand she choose just one of them, Nola is pushed to consider what she wants from love, sex, and relationships. Critics championed how Lee captured a side of Black experience rarely shown in mainstream movies. The prestigious Cannes Film Festival honored him with the Award of the Youth, while the Independent Spirit Awards gave him the award for best first feature, and Johns best female lead.*Kristy Puchko, Entertainment Editor 

How to watch: She’s Gotta Have It is streaming on Netflix.

The team assembled in "The Old Guard"

Credit: Aimee Spinks / Netflix

Charlize Theron is the hardened leader of a mysterious group of warriors who cannot die in smart blockbuster The Old Guard. Throughout their long, lonely lives, they’ve done what they can to influence history and to nudge humanity in the right direction. And now, just as a dogged investigator is close to uncovering their secret, they’ve found a new member (​​KiKi Layne) who desperately needs their guidance. 

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love and Basketball and The Secret Life of Bees) skilfully juggles the many moving parts of this high-concept, action-packed, superhero flick. Both emotionally intelligent and brutally violent, The Old Guard is a gripping, nonstop adventure that will leave you begging for more.

How to watch: The Old Guard is streaming on Netflix.

6. His House

A woman in a red shirt and a man in a yellow shirt stand in a room with dilapidated walls.

Rial (Wunmi Mosaku) and Bol (Ṣọpẹ Dìrísù) aren’t alone in their house it seems.
Credit: Aidan Monaghan / Netflix

Written and directed by Remi Weekes, His House is a horror film for the modern era — and one of the best British films to come out of 2020. Two refugees from South Sudan arrive in London after a harrowing journey that killed their daughter. They try to move forward with their new life, but a supernatural presence in their home refuses to let them forget their past. Seamlessly blending the daily dread of the refugee experience with the horror of a paranormal visitor, His House is an impressive debut film from Weekes. It’s unique, it’s socially conscious, and it’s downright terrifying. 

How to watch: His House is streaming on Netflix.

Five men look into a shallow newly dug hole in the middle of the wilderness.

Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), Eddie (Norm Lewis), Otis (Clarke Peters), Paul (Delroy Lindo), and David (Jonathan Majors).
Credit: David Lee / Netflix

Mashable’s Adam Rosenberg reviewed Da 5 Bloods in the summer of 2020, writing: “In the midst of widespread IRL social upheaval that many hope will finally start to undo the trauma wrought by centuries of deeply embedded prejudice, this new movie delivers a powerful sense of perspective.” Spike Lee’s war film, a keenly impactful meditation on systemic racism, stars Delroy Lindo, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, the late Chadwick Boseman, and more.*Alison Foreman, Entertainment Reporter 

How to watch: Da 5 Bloods is streaming on Netflix.

8. Really Love

Kofi Siriboe (from Queen Sugar and Girls Trip) is Isaiah Maxwell, an artist trying to make a name for himself in Washington D.C. With his mind focused on his career, falling in love is the last thing on his radar — until he meets a law student named Stevie Richmond (Yootha Wong-Loi-Sing).

Really Love is a tender and beautiful love story written by Felicia Pride and Angel Kristi Williams, and directed by Williams. The supporting cast here is top notch, with Uzo Aduba, Mack Wilds, Naturi Naughton, Suzzanne Douglas, Jade Eshete, Blair Underwood, Michael Ealy all sparkling on the sidelines as the two young lovers explore their place in the world. Sweet, touching, and authentic, Really Love is Black romance at its best.

How to watch: Really Love is streaming on Netflix.

9. 13th

Angela Davis speaks to the camera in "13th"

Credit: Netflix

Before Brian Banks, Free Meek, and even True Justice, Ava DuVernay’s groundbreaking 13th educated audiences nationwide about mass incarceration and the widespread wrongful imprisonment of Black Americans.

The Emmy-winning documentary, titled to reference the 13th Amendment — the amendment that abolished slavery — not only elevates the voices of those who have fallen victim to America’s broken justice system, it exposes those who made such a system possible, such as proponents of Jim Crow-era statutes and the multiple former presidents and political leaders that contributed to the Republican Party’s war on drugs (which enlisted Bill Clinton as well). 13th extensively enlightens viewers on how a majority of Black Americans unfairly serve time in the prison industrial complex. *Tricia Crimmins, Entertainment Reporter  

How to watch: 13th is streaming on Netflix.

10. Roxanne Roxanne

A woman in a striped sweater in front of a microphone puts headphones on and closes her eyes.

Chanté Adams takes on the role of Roxanne Shanté.
Credit: Netflix

Written and directed by Michael Larnell, Roxanne Roxanne explores the life and early career of rapper Roxanne Shanté. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, a teenage Roxanne carves out a name for herself as a fierce battle MC while navigating the dangers of living in the Queensbridge Houses in Queens, New York. Chanté Adams received the Sundance Special Jury Prize for breakthrough performance for her fiery portrayal of the young rapper. With a production team that included Forest Whitaker, Pharrell Williams, and Nina Yang Bongiovi (who discovered Ryan Coogler), music by RZA, and a supporting cast that features Mahershala Ali and Nia Long, Roxanne Roxanne is a must-see biopic.

How to watch: Roxanne Roxanne is streaming on Netflix.

11. Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé

Beyonce stands onstage, surrounded by performers in yellow, in "Homecoming"

Credit: Courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment

It’s not often that we get to look behind the curtain when it comes to Beyoncé, and though Homecoming is tempered, it deeply satisfies that craving.

One of the best music documentaries on Netflix, the film follows the legendary performer as she dominates Coachella 2018, but the surprise gig also happens to be her biggest since giving birth to twins Rumi and Sir. Over the course of two hours, you watch Beyoncé ascend the stage like a phoenix rising, relishing the show’s homage to historically Black colleges across the country. In between, she opens up about the creative process how the overall vision comes to life. It’s the closest some of us will ever get to a Beyoncé concert, and we truly feel at home.*Proma Khosla, Entertainment Reporter 

How to watch: Homecoming is streaming on Netflix.

12. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind

A Black boy looks down from his invention in "The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind"

Credit: Ilze Kitshoff / Netflix

Based on a true story and a memoir bearing the same title, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a Malawi-set drama from first-time director Chiwetel Ejiofor. It stars Maxwell Simba as William Kamkwamba, a young boy who loves to tinker with science and technology but can’t attend school because his family can’t afford it.

In the mid-2000s, social and economic strife leave William’s village in dire straits. He concocts a plan to save his village from a drought by building an energy-producing windmill, but there’s one obstacle: His doubting father, Trywell (Ejiofor). The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is a touching, at times heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting story of a young boy finding his own way to triumph over adversity.* — A.F. 

How to watch: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is streaming on Netflix.

Asterisks (*) indicate the entry comes from a previous Mashable list.


Dr. Yvette McQueen, a global traveling physician with roots in Winston

This writer continues to write about Black Health and Wellness which was the theme for the 2022 Black History Month. During this research, several more African American medical doctors were discovered who were residents of Louisville or have roots from Louisville. This research will be used to inspire African American students to consider the medical field as a career. Dr. Yvette McQueen has roots in Louisville. She is the daughter of Joshua and Mary Johnson McQueen who grew up and completed secondary school in Louisville, MS.  She has two sisters, Dr. Ethlyn McQueen Gibson of Yorktown, VA (Doctor of Nurse Practice, DNP) and Teresa Ann McQueen Thompson a teacher.

Dr. Yvette McQueen, MD is an Emergency Medicine Specialist in Jacksonville, FL and has over 24 years of experience in the medical field. She graduated from Medical College Of Ohio medical school in 1998. She has indicated that she accepts Telehealth appointments.

Dr. McQueen is a global physician on a mission to educate about health, travel wellness and disease prevention.  She is an Emergency Medicine physician and Travel Doctor; working as a physician across the US and the Caribbean.  She is a travel group physician ensuring healthy and safe travel of the clients before and during the international trip.  Dr. McQueen is a speaker, blogger, bestselling author x 3, consultant, CPR and First Aid instructor; wilderness emergency care training and international teacher.   She has traveled to 30+ international countries and organizes international medical missions.  “My education and diverse experiences have driven me to serve a purpose of travel and health, my two passions. I can share the knowledge I have gained over my years of travel to show you how to travel efficiently, healthy and economically while still having quality experiences.” She traveled to Africa, for hospital training/teaching in Rwanda and Tanzania. She also provides Wellness Lifestyle Coaching, Wellness Retreats, and is a member of the Wellness Tourism Association.


Dr. McQueen is originally from Cleveland, OH; she obtained her MD degree from Medical College of Ohio/Toledo and Emergency Medicine Residency trained in Detroit, MI.  She has over 19 years of experience as an Emergency Medicine physician, several US state medical licenses and a medical license in Malawi, East Africa.  After initially working in academic centers, she became an independent contractor to combine her passion of medicine and travel as a Locum Tenens physician (physicians who take temporary assignments). She travels around the US providing hospitals physician coverage in their Emergency Departments.  As a Locums physician, it allows her time for her other interests in community health education, nutrition counseling, medical & spiritual international missions. Dr. McQueen is CEO of MedQueen LLC, a health education and Continuing Medical Education (CME) event planning company.  She is involved with the Malawi Mission Project of Hopewell Church, Jacksonville, FL; she organized their first medical mission providing eyeglasses, spiritual counseling, Women Health lectures and medical treatment to over 1300 villagers in Dowa, Malawi.  

Dr. McQueen is also interested in history, interior decorating, event planning and writing. 


Employee-run Companies, Part of the Landscape of an Argentina in Crisis

Active Citizens, Civil Society, Cooperatives, Economy & Trade, Editors’ Choice, Featured, Headlines, Labour, Latin America & the Caribbean, Regional Categories, TerraViva United Nations, Trade & Investment


A group of Farmacoop workers stand in the courtyard of their plant in Buenos Aires. Members of the Argentine cooperative proudly say that theirs is the first laboratory in the world to be recovered by its workers. CREDIT: Courtesy of Pedro Pérez/Tiempo Argentino.

A group of Farmacoop workers stand in the courtyard of their plant in Buenos Aires. Members of the Argentine cooperative proudly say that theirs is the first laboratory in the world to be recovered by its workers. CREDIT: Courtesy of Pedro Pérez/Tiempo Argentino.

BUENOS AIRES, May 24 2022 (IPS) – “All we ever wanted was to keep working. And although we have not gotten to where we would like to be, we know that we can,” says Edith Pereira, a short energetic woman, as she walks through the corridors of Farmacoop, in the south of the Argentine capital. She proudly says it is “the first pharmaceutical laboratory in the world recovered by its workers.”

Pereira began to work in what used to be the Roux Ocefa laboratory in Buenos Aires in 1983. At its height it had more than 400 employees working two nine-hour shifts, as she recalls in a conversation with IPS.

But in 2016 the laboratory fell into a crisis that first manifested itself in delays in the payment of wages and a short time later led to the owners removing the machinery, and emptying and abandoning the company.

The workers faced up to the disaster with a struggle that included taking over the plant for several months and culminated in 2019 with the creation of Farmacoop, a cooperative of more than 100 members, which today is getting the laboratory back on its feet.

In fact, during the worst period of the pandemic, Farmacoop developed rapid antigen tests to detect COVID-19, in partnership with scientists from the government’s National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (Conicet), the leading organization in the sector.

Farmacoop is part of a powerful movement in Argentina, as recognized by the government, which earlier this month launched the first National Registry of Recovered Companies (ReNacER), with the aim of gaining detailed knowledge of a sector that, according to official estimates, comprises more than 400 companies and some 18,000 jobs.

The presentation of the new Registry took place at an oil cooperative that processes soybeans and sunflower seeds on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, built on what was left of a company that filed for bankruptcy in 2016 and laid off its 126 workers without severance pay.

Edith Pereira (seated) and Blácida Benitez, two of the members of Farmacoop, a laboratory recovered by its workers in Buenos Aires, are seen here in the production area. This is the former Roux Ocefa laboratory, which went bankrupt in the capital of Argentina and was left owing a large amount of back wages to its workers. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

Edith Pereira (seated) and Blácida Benitez, two of the members of Farmacoop, a laboratory recovered by its workers in Buenos Aires, are seen here in the production area. This is the former Roux Ocefa laboratory, which went bankrupt in the capital of Argentina and was left owing a large amount of back wages to its workers. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

The event was led by President Alberto Fernández, who said that he intends to “convince Argentina that the popular economy exists, that it is here to stay, that it is valuable and that it must be given the tools to continue growing.”

Fernández said on that occasion that the movement of worker-recuperated companies was born in the country in 2001, as a result of the brutal economic and social crisis that toppled the presidency of Fernando de la Rúa.

“One out of four Argentines was out of work, poverty had reached 60 percent and one of the difficulties was that companies were collapsing, the owners disappeared and the people working in those companies wanted to continue producing,” he said.

“That’s when the cooperatives began to emerge, so that those who were becoming unemployed could get together and continue working, sometimes in the companies abandoned by their owners, sometimes on the street,” the president added.

Two technicians package products at the Farmacoop laboratory, a cooperative with which some of the workers of the former bankrupt company undertook its recovery through self-management, a formula that is growing in Argentina in the face of company closures during successive economic crises. CREDIT: Courtesy of Farmacoop

Two technicians package products at the Farmacoop laboratory, a cooperative with which some of the workers of the former bankrupt company undertook its recovery through self-management, a formula that is growing in Argentina in the face of company closures during successive economic crises. CREDIT: Courtesy of Farmacoop

A complex social reality

More than 20 years later, this South American country of 45 million people finds itself once again in a social situation as severe or even more so than back then.

The new century began with a decade of growth, but today Argentines have experienced more than 10 years of economic stagnation, which has left its mark.

Poverty, according to official data, stands at 37 percent of the population, in a context of 60 percent annual inflation, which is steadily undermining people’s incomes and hitting the most vulnerable especially hard.

The latest statistics from the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security indicate that 12.43 million people are formally employed, which in real terms – due to the increase of the population – is less than the 12.37 million jobs that were formally registered in January 2018.

“I would say that in Argentina we have been seeing the destruction of employment and industry for 40 years, regardless of the orientation of the governments. That is why we understand that worker-recovered companies, as a mechanism for defending jobs, will continue to exist,” says Bruno Di Mauro, the president of the Farmacoop cooperative.

“It is a form of resistance in the face of the condemnation of exclusion from the labor system that we workers suffer,” he adds to IPS.

"He who abandons gets no prize" reads the banner with which part of the members of the Farmacoop cooperative were demonstrating in the Plaza de Mayo in downtown Buenos Aires, during the long labor dispute with the former owners who drove the pharmaceutical company into bankruptcy. The workers managed to recover it in 2019. CREDIT: Courtesy of Bruno Di Mauro/Farmacoop.

“He who abandons gets no prize” reads the banner with which part of the members of the Farmacoop cooperative were demonstrating in the Plaza de Mayo in downtown Buenos Aires, during the long labor dispute with the former owners who drove the pharmaceutical company into bankruptcy. The workers managed to recover it in 2019. CREDIT: Courtesy of Bruno Di Mauro/Farmacoop.

Today Farmacoop has three active production lines, including Aqualane brand moisturizing cream, used for decades by Argentines for sunburn. The cooperative is currently in the cumbersome process of seeking authorizations from the health authority for other products.

“When I look back, I think that we decided to form the cooperative and recover the company without really understanding what we were getting into. It was a very difficult process, in which we had colleagues who fell into depression, who saw pre-existing illnesses worsen and who died,” Di Mauro says.

“But we learned that we workers can take charge of any company, no matter how difficult the challenge. We are not incapable just because we are part of the working class,” he adds.

Farmacoop’s workers currently receive a “social wage” paid by the State, which also provided subsidies for the purchase of machinery.

The plant, now under self-management, is a gigantic old 8,000-square-meter building with meeting rooms, laboratories and warehouse areas where about 40 people work today, but which was the workplace of several hundred workers in its heyday.

It is located between the neighborhoods of Villa Lugano and Mataderos, in an area of factories and low-income housing mixed with old housing projects, where the rigors of the successive economic crises can be felt on almost every street, with waste pickers trying to eke out a living.

Edith Pereira shows the Aqualane brand moisturizing cream, well known in Argentina, that today is produced by the workers of the Farmacoop cooperative, which has two industrial plants in Buenos Aires, recovered and managed by the workers. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

Edith Pereira shows the Aqualane brand moisturizing cream, well known in Argentina, that today is produced by the workers of the Farmacoop cooperative, which has two industrial plants in Buenos Aires, recovered and managed by the workers. CREDIT: Daniel Gutman/IPS

“When we entered the plant in 2019, everything was destroyed. There were only cardboard and paper that we sold to earn our first pesos,” says Blácida Martínez.

She used to work in the reception and security section of the company and has found a spot in the cooperative for her 24-year-old son, who is about to graduate as a laboratory technician and works in product quality control.

A new law is needed

Silvia Ayala is the president of the Mielcitas Argentinas cooperative, which brings together 88 workers, mostly women, who run a candy and sweets factory on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, where they lost their jobs in mid-2019.

“Today we are grateful that thanks to the cooperative we can put food on our families’ tables,” she says. “There was no other option but to resist, because reinserting ourselves in the labor market is very difficult. Every time a job is offered in Argentina, you see lines of hundreds of people.”

Ayala is also one of the leaders of the National Movement of Recovered Companies, active throughout the country, which is promoting a bill in Congress to regulate employee-run companies, presented in April by the governing Frente de Todos.

“A law would be very important, because when owners abandon their companies we need the recovery to be fast, and we need the collaboration of the State; this is a reality that is here to stay,” says Ayala.

Argentine President Alberto Fernández stands with workers of the Cooperativa Aceitera La Matanza on May 5, when the government presented the Registry of Recovered Companies, which aims to formalize worker-run companies. CREDIT: Casa Rosada

Argentine President Alberto Fernández stands with workers of the Cooperativa Aceitera La Matanza on May 5, when the government presented the Registry of Recovered Companies, which aims to formalize worker-run companies. CREDIT: Casa Rosada

The Ministry of Social Development states that the creation of the Registry is aimed at designing specific public policies and tools to strengthen the production and commercialization of the sector, as well as to formalize workers.

The government defines “recovered” companies as those economic, productive or service units that were originally privately managed and are currently run collectively by their former employees.

Although the presentation was made this month, the Registry began operating in March and has already listed 103 recovered companies, of which 64 belong to the production sector and 35 to the services sector.

The first data provide an indication of the diversity of the companies in terms of size, with the smallest having six workers and the largest 177.


Reclaiming Our Future

Armed Conflicts, Asia-Pacific, Civil Society, Climate Action, Climate Change, COVID-19, Education, Headlines, Inequality, Labour, Poverty & SDGs, TerraViva United Nations


BANGKOK, Thailand, May 23 2022 (IPS) – The Asia-Pacific region is at a crossroads today – to further breakdown or breakthrough to a greener, better, safer future.

Since the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) was established in 1947, the region has made extraordinary progress, emerging as a pacesetter of global economic growth that has lifted millions out of poverty.

Yet, as ESCAP celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, we find ourselves facing our biggest shared test on the back of cascading and overlapping impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic, raging conflicts and the climate crisis.

Few have escaped the effects of the pandemic, with 85 million people pushed back into extreme poverty, millions more losing their jobs or livelihoods, and a generation of children and young people missing precious time for education and training.

As the pandemic surges and ebbs across countries, the world continues to face the grim implications of failing to keep the temperature increase below 1.5°C – and of continuing to degrade the natural environment. Throughout 2021 and 2022, countries across Asia and the Pacific were again battered by a relentless sequence of natural disasters, with climate change increasing their frequency and intensity.

More recently, the rapidly evolving crisis in Ukraine will have wide-ranging socioeconomic impacts, with higher prices for fuel and food increasing food insecurity and hunger across the region.

Rapid economic growth in Asia and the Pacific has come at a heavy price, and the convergence of these three crises have exposed the fault lines in a very short time. Unfortunately, those hardest hit are those with the fewest resources to endure the hardship. This disproportionate pressure on the poor and most vulnerable is deepening and widening inequalities in both income and opportunities.

The situation is critical. Many communities are close to tipping points beyond which it will be impossible to recover. But it is not too late.

The region is dynamic and adaptable.

In this richer yet riskier world, we need more crisis-prepared policies to protect our most vulnerable populations and shift the Asia-Pacific region back on course to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals as the target year of 2030 comes closer — our analysis shows that we are already 35 years behind and will only attain the Goals in 2065.

To do so, we must protect people and the planet, exploit digital opportunities, trade and invest together, raise financial resources and manage our debt.

The first task for governments must be to defend the most vulnerable groups – by strengthening health and universal social protection systems. At the same time, governments, civil society and the private sector should be acting to conserve our precious planet and mitigate and adapt to climate change while defending people from the devastation of natural disasters.

For many measures, governments can exploit technological innovations. Human activities are steadily becoming “digital by default.” To turn the digital divide into a digital dividend, governments should encourage more robust and extensive digital infrastructure and improve access along with the necessary education and training to enhance knowledge-intensive internet use.

Much of the investment for services will rely on sustainable economic growth, fueled by equitable international trade and foreign direct investment (FDI). The region is now the largest source and recipient of global FDI flows, which is especially important in a pandemic recovery environment of fiscal tightness.

While trade links have evolved into a complex noodle bowl of bilateral and regional agreements, there is ample scope to further lower trade and investment transaction costs through simplified procedures, digitalization and climate-smart strategies. Such changes are proving to be profitable business strategies. For example, full digital facilitation could cut average trade costs by more than 13 per cent.

Governments can create sufficient fiscal space to allow for greater investment in sustainable development. Additional financial resources can be raised through progressive tax reforms, innovative financing instruments and more effective debt management. Instruments such as green bonds or sustainability bonds, and arranging debt swaps for development, could have the highest impacts on inclusivity and sustainability.

Significant efforts need to be made to anticipate what lies ahead. In everything we do, we must listen to and work with both young and old, fostering intergenerational solidarity. And women must be at the centre of crisis-prepared policy action.

This week the Commission is expected to agree on a common agenda for sustainable development in Asia and the Pacific, pinning the aspirations of the region on moving forward together by learning from and working with each other.

In the past seven-and-a-half decades, ESCAP has been a vital source of know-how and support for the governments and peoples of Asia and the Pacific. We remain ready to serve in the implementation of this common agenda.

To quote United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, “the choices we make, or fail to make today, will shape our future. We will not have this chance again.”

Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana is the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

IPS UN Bureau


Check Out 8 People With Most Unusual And Unique Skin Color (Photos)

1. Connie Chiu

Connie was born in Hong Kong, the fourth child of a Chinese family, and the only one of her siblings to be born with albinism. Connie and her family then relocated to Sweden, where she studied humanities and journalism as a child. She began modelling at the age of 24 and is now a well-known jazz vocalist who is frequently invited to large events and jazz clubs.

2. Nikia Phoenix

Nikia Phoenix, an American model, stands out with her dark skin, natural hair, and freckles all over her body. When Nikia was drinking a cup of coffee in a small cafe, a member of the Alternative Apparel company, which creates branded clothing, noticed her unique appearance. She has been the face of Coca-Cola and Target advertising campaigns since then.

3. Stephen Thompson

Stephen Thompson, an American, never imagined himself as a model. But fate brought him into contact with a photographer who was taken aback by Stephen’s unusual appearance. Thompson’s success story began with a few photographs that were published in a magazine. His photographs have become commonplace in fashion magazines, and he is in high demand for advertising campaigns by major firms. The gorgeous albino man became the face of the Givenchy fashion house in 2011.

4. Winnie Harlow

Tyra Banks was drawn to Winnie’s distinctive appearance (she has vitiligo). She discovered her Instagram account and encouraged her to compete in the 21st season of America’s Next Top Model, where she finished fifth. Winnie Harlow, along with Brazilian model Adriana Lima, is now the face of Desigual in Barcelona.

5. Ava Clarke

Ava Clarke is an African American who is albino. This girl ruled the fashion world with her blond hair, green-blue eyes, and pink lips. Photos of this beautiful woman have already been shown in fashion magazines like Vogue, Denim, and VIP.

According to medical reports, the young woman must have gone blind by now. But, thanks to her parents’ efforts, Ava is able to read, dance ballet, and even draw the attention of renowned photographers.

6. Khoudia Diop

She is a 19-year-old Senegalese woman who was discovered by a modelling agency while looking for a job. She has since taken the internet by storm with her breathtaking images, which have earned her over 235,000 Instagram followers. Khoudia encourages others to value their uniqueness: “If you’re lucky enough to be different, you never change!”

7. Anastasia Zhidkova

Nastya Zhidkova, known as the world’s most beautiful albino child, was born in Russia in 1996. This amazing young model has transformed Russia’s fashion and cosmetics industries. Nastya is also a skilled singer who frequently uploads her performances to YouTube.

8. Lola Chuil

Despite the fact that she only has 39 Instagram posts, this youngster has over 464,000 followers. Lola is a high school student in Los Angeles who speaks eight languages. Her beauty is unique, with a charcoal black complexion, exquisite lips, nose, and eyes that occasionally appear painted. Lola’s fans compare her to Naomi Campbell when she was younger and predict that she will become a top model.

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