Wangari Maathai (File photo)
The African Union (AU) has appointed Kenyan Nobel peace laureate Wangari Maathai to lead its newly-formed Economic Social and Cultural Council.

An AU statement says the new council is seen as a vehicle for promoting dialogue and forging partnerships between the African Union and all segments of African civil society.

The statement says the council's goal is to achieve a "people-centered" African community.

Ms. Maathai became the first African woman and first Kenyan to win the Nobel Peace Prize last year for her work in both human rights and environmental conservation. She was the first woman in East Africa to earn a doctorate degree and in 2002, she was elected to the Kenyan parliament.

Some information for this report provided by AP.