On behalf of the African Union Heads of State and Government, it is my pleasure to introduce the 2019 edition of the African Union Handbook, which is an invaluable resource for those who work both with and within the African Union.The past year has seen significant progress toward Agenda 2063, with the signing of the Agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons. These historic pacts accelerate regional integration, and once ratified, they will open up new pathways to prosperity for all Africa’s citizens.Implementation of the institutional reform of the African Union continues apace, and consultation and dialogue around this crucial imperative has deepened. At the heart of our reforms is the urgent need to position Africa to address the current challenges and opportunities on the global scene. Doing so requires that our organisation be structured and resourced to take the lead in championing Africa’s development and security agenda.We are effecting changes that have already made our Union stronger and more effective, and this work will continue. We now have a credible budget process and a replenished Peace Fund, among other elements. As a result, we have a greater voice when it comes to protecting the security of our continent.This year we have also emphasised the importance of speaking with one unified African voice on issues that affect us all. This gives force to the ideals that guided the founders of our pan-African institution, and the generations of African patriots whom they inspired.Our shared responsibility is to promote unity and cooperation among the peoples and states of Africa, as laid down in the Constitutive Act of the African Union. This spirit of solidarity binds us together as Africans. Partnership and togetherness are the bedrock values of a strong Union.We appreciate the numerous partners around the world who continue to support the development agenda of the African Union and the Member States in various ways. We attach great value to the continuation of these mutually beneficial partnerships. We extend special thanks to the Government of New Zealand for its on-going commitment to the African Union Commission for the publication of this Handbook.In the year ahead, let us continue working together to advance the cause of peace, unity, and well-being on our continent and beyond.