AAPAM Award for Best Student Essay
By: Julie Muia, Progamme Assistant
During one of my inaugural graduate classes, my professor made a strange remark “Universities do not offer solutions to world problems!” My area of concern is International Relations in the field of peace and conflict resolution, which in retrospect, set the pace for the entire programme, so I set out to understand the East African Community (EAC). EAC was first established in 1967 after the signing of a tripartite agreement by presidents from Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda; it collapsed soon after in 1977, ushering the rebirth of the EAC in July 2000, following the process of ratification and deposit of the instruments of ratification with the Secretary General. Rwanda and Burundi became full members of EAC in 2008.
The concept of regional integration in Africa was mainly for the purposes of economic cooperation geared towards development. Accordingly, the vision of EAC is to have a prosperous, competitive, secure, stable and politically united East Africa; with a mission, to widen and deepen Economic, Political, Social and Culture integration in order to improve the quality of life of the people of East Africa, by increasing competitiveness, value added production, trade and investments. To this extent the EAC members established four pillars of integration; Customs Union (2005), a Common Market (2010), Monetary Union and ultimately, Political Federation. Each pillar is governed under a protocol i.e. the common markets protocol, according to the treaty, member states have Four (4) years to complete each pillar,
Membership, according to Article (3) of the EAC treaty, states are eligible to join the Community once they fulfil requirements such as:
•Adherence to universally acceptable principles of good governance, democracy, the rule of law, observance of human rights and social justice;
•Potential to contribute towards the strengthening of integration within the East African region;
•Geographical proximity to and inter-dependence between it and the Partner States;
•Establish and maintain a market driven economy.
The East African Community (EAC) has recognised that stability and security in the region are prerequisites for successful integration. Previous experiences with conflicts in the member states and spillover effects in neighboring states have shown that development of the entire region can be hampered or even thwarted by a national crisis of one of its members. Conflict- a constant variable - that continues to generate interest, creates the opportunity to identify how structures can be transformed into constituting incentives for collective as opposed to unilateral action. Post conflict- states such as Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, DRC and Ethiopia have applied for membership to EAC, the then Chairman of EAC in 2012, H.E. Mwai Kibaki welcomed the states interest as the Community sought to deepen and widen integration; which is vital to EAC’s survival. South Sudan applied for membership to the Community in 2011, in 2013, South Sudan made alignment strides by sending a high level mission to the EAC Secretariat in Arusha, Tanzania, showing signs that it was likely to become the 6th member of EAC. The application status is to be revealed in 2014.
The Common Regional Public Goods (CRPG) model calls for a convergence of regional, state and local-regionalized interest on security and foreign policy; the underlying logic behind CRPG is to use the common demands for security and development as imperatives for integration, therefore projects such as the Lamu Port Southern Sudan-Ethiopia Transport (LAPSET) and the Standard gauge railway line in East Africa are some of the projects set to cement regional integration.
While the treaty is clear on the requirements needed to join EAC there is a need to play a more active role in rehabilitating post-conflict countries and fast tracking their economic and social agenda to ensure that the mandate of deepening and widening integration is achieved.