August 14, 1968

OAU opens Nigeria Biafra Peace Conference in Addis Ababa

The Organization of African Unity tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a peaceful end to the war. with a conference in Addis Ababa, from August to early September 1968. The conference was initially greeting with hopeful anticipation of an African solution to the war. But the OAU also was organizationally opposed to the Biafran secession–its member states were themselves postcolonial nations fearful of fracture.  As Gemah Akuchu has argued, the OAU had a variety of goals at the outset:

  • the non-recognition of secessionism in its member states;
  • the peaceful settlement of the conflict;
  • bringing of humanitarian relief to victims of the conflict, especially children, women and old people on both sides,
  • preventing wholesale taking of sides by both African and non-African states

After more than a month of meetings, the Addis Ababa conference disbanded without success.

At the end of the meeting, Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia described his disappointment:

“I have for the past five weeks incessantly endeavoured to help find a peaceful solution to this crisis afflicting our Nigerian brothers… .The results achieved so far have fallen short of our expectations. The Consultative Committee.. .cannot impose a settlement on the parties involved in the conflict.”

See Also:
Gemuh E. Akuchu, “Peaceful Settlement of Disputes: Unsolved Problem for the OAU (A Case Study of the Nigeria-Biafra Conflict),” Africa Today (Oct. – Dec., 1977): 39-58