EAC Structural Weaknesses Exposed Amid Rising Conflicts: Legal Experts Warn

Afaf Fahchouch
Afaf Fahchouch
3 Min Read

Legal experts have sounded the alarm over structural deficiencies within the East African Community (EAC), asserting that the organization’s focus on trade over security is fueling escalating conflicts across the region. The warning comes amidst growing tensions and conflicts that threaten to undermine the EAC’s integration agenda.

According to Donald Deya, CEO of the Arusha-based Pan African Lawyers Union, the EAC lags behind its regional counterparts, such as the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (Igad), in terms of peace and security architecture. Deya highlights the EAC’s failure to prioritize security concerns, which has hampered its ability to effectively address intra-regional conflicts.

The EAC’s mandate primarily focuses on economic cooperation and trade liberalization, with member states committed to a customs union, a common market, a monetary union, and a political federation. However, the organization’s peace and security architecture remains underdeveloped, leaving it ill-equipped to manage conflicts and maintain stability within the region.

Despite the establishment of the EAC Court of Justice to ensure adherence to the law, its jurisdiction has been limited to disputes arising from economic protocols, with little emphasis on resolving security-related issues. This structural imbalance has left the EAC vulnerable to internal strife and external threats.

In contrast, regional blocs like Ecowas have established robust mechanisms for conflict resolution and peacekeeping, underscoring the importance of prioritizing security alongside economic integration. Legal experts argue that without addressing these structural weaknesses, the EAC risks further destabilization and hindered progress towards its integration objectives.

The recent decision by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to not renew the mandate of the East African Community Regional Force highlights the challenges facing the EAC’s conflict resolution efforts. President Felix Tshisekedi’s criticism of the regional force’s effectiveness underscores the need for a more cohesive and proactive approach to peacekeeping within the EAC.

Looking ahead, legal experts stress the importance of strengthening the EAC’s peace and security architecture, enhancing cooperation among member states, and addressing the root causes of conflicts. Failure to do so could undermine the organization’s credibility and impede its ability to foster regional stability and prosperity.

In response to these concerns, EAC Secretary-General Dr. Peter Mathuki emphasized the importance of using existing dispute resolution mechanisms and upholding the principles of integrity and sovereignty among partner states. However, critics argue that more comprehensive reforms are needed to address the structural deficiencies within the EAC and ensure its effectiveness in maintaining peace and security across the region.




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