In an effort to improve regional peace and security mechanisms, the East African Community is beefing up its Early Warning unit and mediation capacity.
The Community’s Deputy Secretary General (Political Federation), Dr Julius Tangus Rotich, said this is due to the need for greater attention in the follow up of issues related and gains made in the promotion of democracy, good governance, rule of law and the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
He said this while opening a three-day quarterly technical meeting between the African Union and the Regional Economic Communities held in Arusha recently. The conference discussed operationalization of Africa’s early warning systems.
“Your meeting is taking place in a context of increased new peace and security challenges in the EAC region. Terrorism, human and illicit drugs trafficking, ethnic and inter-communal violence, religious tensions, piracy and money laundering are rising to alarming levels. The effects of climate change with its negative impact on food security and resource scarcity have their own toll in this grim picture. Your combined work with other stakeholders is expected to help curtail the negative effects of these vices,” Dr Rotich told the participants.
These challenges, he said, were exacerbated by consolidation of the Customs Union to turn the region into a single Customs territory and the implementation of the Common Market Protocol to ensure free movement of persons, labour, services and capital and protection of cross-border investment.
Security challenges were however not a preserve of East Africa alone, he said. “The continent has in the past two years seen some of the worst peace and security challenges, mostly in the so-called ‘Arab Spring,’” said Dr Rotich. “The ramifications and spillover of these crises, combined with the effects of the international economic crisis, are aggravating new peace and security concerns on the continent.”
It is this situation that has necessitated harmonization and co-ordination as required in the Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in the Area of Peace and Security between the AU, the Regional Economic Communities and the Coordinating Mechanisms of the Regional Standby Brigades of Eastern Africa and Northern Africa.
Regular meetings are therefore held to review progress towards the operationalisation of the early warning systems and to share and exchange information and knowledge, lessons learned and best practices. The meetings also provide a forum to develop coordinated strategies, to train together and to enhance mutual capacities and hence the promotion and maintenance of peace, security and stability on the continent.
The overall aim of all these efforts is to help anticipate and prevent conflicts within and among the member states of the African Union. This is the second time that the EAC has hosted the meeting, the first time having been in April 2009. allAfrica