Regional integration peace and security in Africa: an analysis of the East African Community
Njeru, Tumaini M
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Peace and security are essential ingredients for regional integration and they continue to pose a major challenge in Africa and other parts of the world. Past efforts to form regional integration schemes in East Africa have failed because of political and economic bad will that did not favor regional partnership and co-operation. The aim of East African Community integration is to improve the economies of the member states, that is, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania through trade. However, there have been problems surrounding the integration of the East African region in the past due to highly complex, interrelated and intertwined problems. The study sought to determine how regional integration enhances peace, security and settlement of disputes, in particular, the East African Community. The study concluded that in spite of the existence of EAC bloc, that have secretariats and regular technical and ministerial level meetings and summits of heads of state and government, East Africa integration efforts have had limited impact so far more so in area of, peace, conflict resolution and security. This was attributed to membership issues, slow ratification of protocols and reluctant implementation of agreed plans, socio-economic policy divergence, and limited national and regional capacities. The EAC integration progress has been rather slow and reality has fallen far short of aspirations. The study recommended that EAC should: Eradicate wasteful or costly duplication of multiple memberships and rationalize some overlapping sub-regional blocs; secure irrevocable commitment beyond mere political rhetoric amongst member countries; effectively pool resources and expertise to tackle cross-cutting regional challenges, such as infrastructure, governance, gender, HIV / AIDS, peace, security and conflict management. The study findings concludes that East African Community needs to take a common and stronger position in promoting peace and security in the region. This would also allow regional members benefit in sharing and popularizing the EAC Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution framework. The era of isolated tiny national economies has to give way to strategic alliances that harness knowledge-and-resource-based, comparative advantages through integration. This however does not come effortlessly and at no cost: a lot of dedicated planning and hard work must be put in first.