Jean Marie Vianney SIKUBWABO
World Mediation Organization
Keywords: Regional integration, conflict resolution, economic development,
sustainable development, common market, customs union, common currency, sustainable
peace and security, terrorism, Genocide, collective defense.
The Author: Jean Marie Vianney SIKUBWABO (email@example.com)
is a doctoral student in mediation and conflict resolution at EUCLID University (an
Intergovernmental and Treaty-based Institution under the United Nations Treaty Series
49006/49007), an Accredited Mediator by the Rwandan Supreme Court, a legal
Consultant, and a part-time university Lecturer.
The East African Community (EAC) started the regional integration process with
the customs union and common market, which are temporary phases of the course of
regional development to a political federation as its ultimate goal, which makes it the
only regional economic bloc whose Treaty provides for the establishment of a political
federation. However, the basis of stages of integration has experienced enormous
challenges, including intrastate and interstate conflicts, that have reduced the course of
the realization of this last goal. Consequently, within the EAC, progress has been slower
than initially planned. Concerning peace and security, the EAC was expected to have an
extensive and positive impact on peace and security among the member states. This
impact of regional integration on security includes encouraging conflict resolution and
working together towards a peaceful regional block, despite the challenges of limited
resources and lack of motivation . On the contrary, EAC has recorded dramatic
conflict crises for so long while poverty in its member states continues to deepen. In that
regard, I argue that there is a critical need for sustainable peace and security to make the
EAC’s period-long dream of regional integration is a reality.
Typically, when joining regional groupings, member states hope to address
common challenges related to the improvement of economic policy, poverty reduction,
and managing the process of liberalization in a collective and coordinated manner. The
critical concern I will address in this study is the persisting intrastate and inter-state
conflicts in the East African Community member states, their impact on effective
regional integration, and a proposal of collective mechanisms for redress. In
this critical analysis, I will briefly overview the EAC integration process, highlighting its
significant achievements and roadblocks in the first section. In this trend of roadblocks, I
will critically analyze peace and security issues and their impact on EAC integration in
the second section. More importantly, I will picture intra-state and inter-state conflicts
and their effects on the concerned state and region.
In the last section, I will propose sustainable peace and security mechanisms for
effective EAC integration. No tool can better address security, political crisis, violence,
human rights abuse, and political tensions within the EAC than understanding and
addressing the root causes of conflicts. Other mechanisms consist of promoting consistent
diplomatic talks between member states, empowering traditional conflict resolution
mechanisms, strengthening the security standby force in the region, and promoting unity
and trust between the EAC member states.
2) A BRIEF OVERVIEW OF EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY INTEGRATION
Typically, states establish regional and international organizations to protect and
promote their interests. Most such interests are shared; hence, interest convergence is
central to founding and maintaining regional organizations as avenues for interstate
cooperation. For EAC, the main goal was to create a common market, customs union,
Monetary Union, and political federation. It is deplorable that member states have not
agreed on Monetary Union and political federation while the assigned timeline passed;
these two aspects remain the EAC’s ultimate vision. In peace and security matters, under
chapter 23, partner states agreed to cooperate in various political and security affairs by
establishing common foreign and security policies. They also committed to identifying
and addressing common-interest issues, coordinated responses to regional security issues,
peaceful resolution of intra-state conflicts, coordinating defense policies, consultations on
peace and security of partner states, and undertaking defense cooperation practices, such
as joint exercises .
a) Panorama of the Establishment of the East African
The East African Community (EAC) was established in 1967 as a Customs Union
between Kenya and Uganda but collapsed in 1977 due to political disparities. Tanganyika
(Tanzania) joined in 1927, Rwanda and Burundi in 2009, South Sudan in 2016, and the
The democratic Republic of the Congo joined in April 2022. Approval for Somalia’s
membership has been pending since its application in 2012. This bloc is founded on four
main pillars: a Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union, and a Political
Federation. The EAC’s main aim in this integration process is to make the East African
economic and political bloc robust and sustainable .
This panorama of establishment recorded other vital events, such as the Customs
Union between Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika established in 1917. Other subsequent
protocols include the East African Currency Board, the Postal Union, and the Court of
Appeal for Eastern Africa. In that channel of event, the East African Governors.’
The conference, the East African Income Tax Board, and the Joint Economic Council were
established between 1905 and 1940. The East African Airways Corporation was
incorporated in 1946, and the East African Common Services Organization (EACSO)
was developed in 1961, which replaced the East African High Commission are added to
the list .
i) The East African Community Stages of Integration Versus Failed
Pillars of Integration
Customs Unions, Common Markets, and political federations have been the ideal of
the EAC. Currently, the EAC is already a customs union and a common market.
Supposedly, it is forming a Monetary Union and, optimistically, a future political
federation . As I will explore in the sections below, it is regrettable that trade conflicts,
insecurity, and political tensions in the region have caused border closures, blocking
movements of people, goods, services, and use of national airspace to commercial flights
from partner states. As a result, the EAC is undermining the integration process to the
extent that its entire project risks collapsing .
The customs union, which implies a free trade area by eliminating duty on goods
and services, was the first integration step achieved by the EAC in January 2010, which
became fully functioning in January 2010. In the second phase, a common market came
into force in 2010. The expected market implies the free movement of goods and
services, persons, labor, and capital in the Community. The two and third ideal goals are
a Monetary Union and a confederation whose protocol was adopted in November 2013
with an expectation to be fully operational in 2023 . By the time of writing this paper,
these two last stages were still distant dreams.
This failure is due to repetitive border closures between EAC member states. For
example, the Gatuna and Kagitumba borders between Rwanda and Uganda and Akanyaru
border between Rwanda and Burundi have been closed since February 28, 2019, due to
political hostilities between the two countries . Conversely, Tanzania has blocked
products manufactured in Uganda, such as timber, milk, sugar, and maize. At the same
time, Tanzania banned Kenya Airways from flying to Tanzania in retaliation to Kenya’s
blockage of Tanzanian trucks moving to Kenya. The main reason was the COVID-19
pandemic . I observe that these practices by EAC member states are enough to prove
the EAC’s failure or unwillingness to implement its Treaty. Therefore, I can conclude that
the EAC’s defeat in handling the COVID-19 crisis as a global problem is the most
indicative of the dysfunction in the region’s integration process.
ii) The Particular Role of the East African Court of Justice in the
Implementation of the EAC Treaty
In regional integrations’ courts of justice like the Court of Justice of the European
Union community law is an autonomous legal order in which partner states have
accepted to cede part of their sovereignty to the Community. In other words, unlike
international law, which houses it, community law has precedence over the municipal law of
the partner states, notwithstanding their constitutional philosophies . This principle is
different in EAC member states because Article 95 of the Constitution of the Republic of
Rwanda of 2003, revised in 2015, places treaties and international agreements that
Rwanda was ratified in the third place of the hierarchy of legal order. That is after the
constitution and the organic laws .
The case of the Eats African Court of Justice (EACJ) is different because it lacks
execution machinery of its own and relies on the procedure obtained in the country where
the Court decree or order is to be executed. In other words, the execution of the Court’s
the decision will be governed by the rules of civil procedure in the partner state in which the
execution is to take place .
Undoubtedly, the more East Africa gets integrated, the more disputes of a
transboundary nature are likely to happen. In that regard, the EACJ was expected to
constitute a unique opportunity for the EAC integration by being the principal judicial
organ of the Community, accessible, independent, and renders expeditious justice .
Furthermore, the EACJ rules of procedures require the partner states to work together to
address the region’s root causes of conflict and deprivation.
iii)Areas of Success in the East African Community’s Common Market
and Customs Union
The EAC has made some achievements, including interstate road transport
through reduced documentation for crews and vehicles at border crossings. This transport
facilitation has made transportation more accessible and encouraged traders from member
states, contributing to economic ties and strengthening the region’s financial position.
Additionally, it had harmonized immigration regulations, such as introducing an EAC
passport, free visas for immigrants within the Community, and Customs Union through
one border-posts system .
Tourism is one sector where the EAC has been strategic in its harmonization
endeavors. The EAC partner states signed necessary protocols to help promote East
Africa as a single tourist destination, attract more tourists and increase the tourism
industry’s contribution to the East African economy. A single East African Tourist Visa
for Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda EAC countries has been available since 2014 .
b) Areas of Failures in the Implementation of the East African
Only the Customs Union and common market succeeded among the four pillars
constituting the EAC treaty, though they still need improvement. Peace and security are
essential pillars of the EAC treaty, and political integration is still a distant dream. In this
present paper, I emphasize the aspect of peace and security. Additionally, I can observe
that the principle of full and effective regional integration exists only on paper and is not
in the organization’s actual practices. This failure of full and effective integration has
been the cause of many other failed projects, including rerouting major regional
infrastructure, railways, and oil exploitation in South Sudan. It pushes me to conclude
that these failures reveal serious difficulties in cooperation among the member states and
their commitment to previous integration initiatives.
i) Period-Long pending Monetary Union and Political Integrations as
Main Pillars of the Protocol Establishing the East African
The Customs Union was established in 2005, and the Common Market in 2010,
 while Monetary Union, expected to be done in ten years, and Political Federation are
still unfinished, despite long talks and negotiations. The Protocol on Monetary Union was
adopted under the EAC Treaty and signed in 2013. The period of ten years was a
progressive opportunity for the EAC partner to converge their currencies into a single
regional currency. From this plan, I see that the Political Federation is the final goal
of the integration process in this region. Regrettably, these two pillars constituting the
final integration phases are still a distant dream.
The political federation would allow them to conduct a standard foreign and
security policy and contribute to more effective implementation of the previous stages of
cooperation. In that sense, political collaboration would improve the region’s stability and
strengthen its position, especially in negotiations with other countries outside the
In addition to the failure of the Monetary Union and political federation, I lament
the lack of specific institutions in member states whose primary responsibilities would be
implementing the protocols in collaboration with all stakeholders, governmental
institutions, the private sector, and civil society. Furthermore, difficulties related to the
lack of capacity and resources to implement the protocols need particular attention.
From this discussion above, I can infer that EAC failed to implement its primary goals,
revealing significant delays in solving major regional problems. The delays in
implementing the protocols that failed some EAC goals show the organization’s
weakness, especially the concerned member states’ lack of engagement and
ii) The East African Community’s Failure to Safeguard Peace and
Security in the Region
Typically, regional integration is a standard policy or project aimed at increasing
links and economic, political, and social transactions, strengthening integration processes,
intensifying intergovernmental cooperation, and creating regional identity among the
Community. On the contrary, as the EAC’s size expanded, the conflicts and insecurity
areas also grew. Shockingly, EAC member states have been escalating political tensions
that existed between themselves into bitter disputes. For example, free trade has not
happened as stipulated in the protocols because there have been conflicting situations
between member states leading to the closure of the borders.
I can optimistically envision that accession to the EAC by South Sudan and DRC
should have given them an opportunity for economic and security stabilization.
Simultaneously, the rest of the member states should increase their profits related to the
oil industry in South Sudan and Uganda, natural resources, and the significant population
in DRC. I agree with Gibb that there has been no substantial change since its accession
by DRC, apart from becoming another complex security and political baggage. South
Sudan, which became a full member of the EAC in September 2016, is yet to add
value. I understand that when joining the Community, DRC committed itself
theoretically to be part of the Community and entering the various areas of cooperation in
all the sectors, programs, and activities that promote the four pillars of regional
integration, namely, the Customs Union, Common Market Protocol, Monetary Union,
and the Political Federation.
Regrettably, there are various peace and security opportunities that EAC did not
maximize adequately, thus causing persisting security issues in the region. Besides
exploiting local security and defense opportunities, EAC relied much on overdependence
on foreign security support. For example, The Africa Peace Facility (APF), which works
as a conflict management tool instead of a preventive tool, overemphasizes conflict
management and relies too much on Africa’s major donors, especially the EU, to fund the
African Standby Force. APF was established in April 2004 to strengthen peace and
security through support for African peacekeeping operations. Its leading principles of
partnership are African ownership, solidarity between AU member states to enable
cooperation with regional sub-organizations in Africa, and creating conditions for
development. Regrettably, it has not contributed to promoting peace and security in
the EAC because of many decades of struggles within this region.
3) A CRITICAL ANALYSIS OF PEACE AND SECURITY ISSUES AND THEIR
IMPACT ON THE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY INTEGRATION
Beforehand, I must recall that East Africa Community lacks an integrated conflict
prevention, management, and mitigation framework, which I see as a security
weakness for the East African region and a significant threat to the dream of effective
regional integration. Peace, security, stability, and good governance are prerequisites to
achieving sustainable economic development in any regional integration. Nevertheless, low-income states, with weak control combined with ethnic disputes, have been significant
characteristics of the EAC member states. In that same trend, a practical peace and security
safeguard process must consider the conflicts’ root causes.
a) Major Causes of Conflicts in the EAC Region
Conflicts in the EAC region, particularly in the Great Lake, have story-long
causes and consequences. They result from identity division, structural violence,
exploitation, the inability of the governments to manage multi-ethnic societies by
guaranteeing equitable access to natural resources, lack of the rule of law, and political
exclusion. Worse than that, conflicts in this region have always been complex because,
though they seem intrastate initially, they have often extended to threaten the entire
Additionally, the partner states’ sovereignty has been another cause of political
tension between member states. When establishing the EAC, member states reserved
some sovereignty to member states until they became a federation. Unquestionably,
reserved sovereignty is a crucial hindrance to the progress of the EAC because partner
states have more sovereignty than the Community. Worse than that, the Community does
not govern many vital matters; the member states govern them. This confusion causes
breaches of the EAC Treaty and tensions between the partner states.
For example, in the case East African Law Society versus Secretary General of
the EAC, the Court held that the EAC breached its duties to effectively investigate and
redress possible violations of the principles in the EAC Treaty that arose from the
allegedly illegal expulsion of Rwandan and Burundian immigrants from Tanzania in
2013. In other words, the EAC failed to take remedial actions to ensure that
expulsions conformed to regional legal standards and principles. This situation caused
political tension between Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi.
In that case, the EAC argued that it had fulfilled its duties and that the states
involved were responsible for remedying the situation, which they failed to do. Under
articles 29, 71(1)(d), and 71(1)(l) of the EAC Treaty, it is the EAC Secretary General’s
duty to both investigate possible violations of the EAC Treaty and to subsequently submit
the findings of that investigation to the EAC Council of Ministers, the governing organ of
the EAC. Therefore, it was the responsibility of the Secretary-General to investigate
the situation vigilantly, notify the Member State involved of its breach of the EAC
Treaty, and take subsequent action following the investigation.
b)The Status of Inter-state and Intra-State Security
Issues in the East African Community
For decades, the Great Lake Region states have been among the most affected by
vicious and armed conflicts. Violent conflicts in the Great Lakes Region, Rwanda,
Burundi and the DRC have caused massive damage to property and loss of lives. Under
the memorandum of understanding, the EAC partner states committed to take measures
to address the issues of defense, peace, and security through, among others. These
measures include ensuring the maintenance of peace and stability in the region, avoiding
and preventing conflict within the region, observance of good neighborliness, and
peaceful resolution of disputes. In doing so, they made it a community vision to address
the root causes of conflicts through observance of good governance, respect for human
rights, and cooperation in defense matters, including preparedness for common defense
and peacekeeping, conflict resolution, and disaster management.
c) The Impact of Inter-State Political Tensions on the East
African Community Operations
Beforehand, I must stress that the EAC cannot claim to achieve its mission of
having a prosperous, competitive, secure, and politically united East Africa. Its member
states do not adopt a structured security arrangement that can create the right
environment for integration initiatives and protect the gains the Community has already
attained. Unquestionably, political, ethnic, and other sources of civil conflicts, intra-state
and inter-state conflicts are significant challenges to regional integration and economic
development. Below, I have demonstrated how at least each EAC member state
entered into political tension with another member state.
i) Political tensions Between Rwanda and Uganda
The Rwandan-Ugandan political tension broke a period-long friendship for
countries with the same colonial history (both were colonized by Germany before
Rwanda was transferred under the Belgium trusteeship after the German defeat). Their
recent political tensions are based on accusations and counter-accusations between both
countries to support enemies of either country, specifically Uganda and other countries
providing training and army support to the Rwandan opposition groups. On another
side, Uganda charged Rwanda for making the Rwandan elements enter the territory and
killing civilians. Consequently, these accusations and counter-accusations escalated into
conflicts that caused border closure. This action breached the EAC Treaty, especially
on the security aspect and the free movement of goods and persons.
On the good side, these two countries made tremendous efforts to settle the matter
through mediation facilitated by their friend presidents, namely Joao Lourenco of
Angola, Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazza, and Felix Tshisekedi of DRC.
After these failed mediative efforts, direct, amicable, and friendly talks between officials
of these two countries successfully resumed diplomatic and business relations.
Unquestionably, the economic activities of these two countries rely on cross-border
commerce as an essential aspect of the EAC common market was negatively affected.
ii) Tanzania versus Rwanda and Burundi
Tanzanian President‘s decisions to expulse what Tanzania considered “illegal
immigrants” and “criminals” caused diplomatic tension with the Rwandan government
over the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was by the Tanzanian
presidential order issued on July 25, 2013, to expulse some 35,000 irregular migrants
from Rwanda, Burundi, and Uganda to leave Tanzania by August 11, 2013. The main
reasons that Tanzania advanced to justify expulsion include the complaints from villagers
over acts of armed robbery, bus attacks, and kidnaps attributed to illegal immigrants in
the area. The basis of the political tension was that Tanzania expulsed immigrants, fearing
that Rwanda might try to destabilize it in retaliation for its decision to send troops to
DRC as part of a new UN force seeking to disarm and neutralize the M23 rebel
iii)Political Tension Between Rwanda and Burundi
Burundi has its particular period-long political and civil crises and extreme
poverty. Since its accession to the EAC, Burundi continues to struggle with poverty,
insecurity, and poor governance, unresolved tensions that characterize the pre and postelections period, and issues of refugees who work to come back to Burundi, to name a
few. On another side, political tensions with Rwanda intensified in 2019, causing much
worry about the stability of the already fragile Great Lakes Region. However, the
attempts to restore relations by the presidents of both countries in 2020 have been fruitful
since they agreed to cooperate on border security issues.
From these points above, I realize that the Burundian political crisis and tension
with Rwanda are sensitive to intra-regional trade within the EAC, especially with
repetitive border closures between Rwanda and Burundi and killings of civilians who
cross the borders. All EAC member states should pay particular attention to the
dynamics of conflict in the Great Lakes Region to help new joiners fully integrate into
the EAC, especially as the region has already shown its vulnerability to climate change.
d) The Status of Intra-State Conflicts and their Impact on the
These conflicts in the EAC region caused loss of human lives, increased numbers
of displaced persons, and psycho-social and economic negative impacts on surviving
civilians, including increased hatred. The adverse effects of peace and security threats on
EAC integration are enormous. It includes extreme human rights abuses, loss of trust
among the member states, total failure of regional integration, negative public visibility,
and an impediment to the implementation of the EAC treaty. The repetitive border
closures have hampered inter-state trade and tourist activities and blocked the free
movement of goods and people.
Additionally, they destroyed public and private properties leading to an enormous
burden on the national economy. The intrastate conflicts had a negative regional impact,
affecting the EAC region. While I cannot make a detailed description of each country’s
conflict history, I will briefly present the status of the conflicts in these countries and
their negative impact on socio-economic development and regional integration in general.
iv) The Decades-Long Conflicts in the Great Lack Region
The Burundian security crises of 2013 and 2015 emanated from a disagreement
on election results and respect for the Arusha Agreement. These revolts and conflicts
caused the loss of many people’s lives, and others have been displaced. The same
happened with the Genocide committed against the Tutsi in Rwanda in 1994. During this
Genocide, more than 800,000 people were killed in less than 100 days, causing many
others to be displaced. The eastern part of the DRC did not escape this history of conflict
and insecurity because, beginning in 1996, violent conflicts involving internal and
external armed groups led to the death of more than 6,000,000 persons and forced more
than people to be displaced. Unsurprisingly, these conflicts result from social
identities, such as ethnic polarisation, the politicization of ethnicity, inappropriate
representation, too long leadership and domination, insufficient political systems,
democratic trends against political systems, inadequate handling of risky changes, and
proliferation of conflict into other countries.
v) The Democratic Republic of Congo’s Accession to the East African
Community: An Economic Opportunity or an Insecurity Extension to
The answer to this question is twofold because DRC’s accession to the EAC
benefits the DRC itself and expands the market EAC size. Secondly, it extended the
security burden to the region because these conflicts have existed for so long in this
country. When joining the EAC, the DRC expected to benefit from customs taxes
exemption at any of the region’s border points. The main reason is that most of the DRC’s
key markets, such as Bukavu and Goma, are geographically closer to the Kenyan port of
Mombasa than the Atlantic Ocean. Therefore, open borders via the EAC could reduce
shipping and receiving commerce time. Undoubtedly, this is a massive benefit to a
country that needs assistance with infrastructure projects.
On the dark side, the DRC’s membership in the EAC brings another set of
challenges, including insecurity and acts of violence in the Eastern region of DRC by
M23. Therefore, the EAC must double its efforts to integrate DRC and promote
peace between its member states to maintain bloc unity. Though member states of the
bloc agreed to deploy a regional security force led by Kenya to the Eastern DRC, their
productivity is still questionable. Above all, I realize that after two years of DRC’s
accession to the EAC, there has not been any significant change in cooperation between
DRC and other EAC member states; the tension between DRC and Rwanda increased
from allegations of Rwandan support to M23. Therefore, I see new accessions have
worsened the security issues instead of being an opportunity for the EAC to focus on the
full implementation of the EAC treaty, especially the monetary Union, ensure the
performance of the EAC Common Market Protocol, attain an EAC Single Currency, and
strengthen regional peace, security, and governance.
vi) The Problem of Decades-Long Insecurity and Terrorism in Somalia
Somalia presents a particular characteristic; this country has been a victim of
social, economic, political, and security problems for so long. Insecurity and terrorism are
significant problems that Somalia adds to the EAC’s list of issues. Somalia has been
facing and is still facing various social, economic, and political issues. Somalia has been
a victim of a drought threatening to cause famine in different areas for so long. Many
Somali people have been victims of acute food insecurity and need humanitarian
assistance. Additionally, the lack of funds to address the problems of drought, climate
change, malnutrition, and famine, is a critical concern.
Worse, insecurity resulting from Al-Shabab terrorism cannot allow the
government to focus on other socio-economic aspects. Al-Shabab has remained a severe
threat to the government and its institutions. Without being cynical, I can realize that the
delayed admission of Somalia into the EAC might have resulted from this decades-long
problems, but most importantly, its insecurity issue, while the regional standby security
forces failed to help the country restore its security.
vii) Pre and Post-Elections Insecurity in Kenya and Uganda and
Genocide in South Sudan
Chaotic reactions by citizens in opposition parties characterized the eve of the
elections in Kenya. The political crisis led to chaotic economic situations, including the
closure of factories, accumulation of delays in supplies, cancellation after cancellation of
the tourists’ travel, and even the collapse of the stock market. Unquestionably, these
crises caused the country’s impoverishment and the entire region because Kenya is the
gateway for supplies to many landlocked countries in East and Central Africa. In
other words, this Kenyan political crisis tarnished the country’s image and potentially had
short-term and long-term economic consequences for the country and its neighbors.
The conflicting situation in South Sudan has a different story of being repetitive
and implying civil war and Genocide. Typically, the first conflict peaked in the 1960s and
ended in 1972, but the second one, which began in 1983, lasted for twenty-two years.
The AU and the UN have documented part of the violence in South Sudan, labeled it as
ethnic cleansing, and have been reluctant to declare it a Genocide. In other words, the
international community did not escalate its rhetoric to describe the violence in South
Sudan as Genocide.
South Sudan, Africa’s youngest country, is still struggling to cope with an
the economic crisis caused in part by a recent civil war that has affected oil production, a
significant income stream for the government of South Sudan, which seceded from Sudan
on July 9, 2011. Regrettably, the country has been at risk of expulsion from
the EAC because it has been defaulting over membership dues of US dollars ten million
after its accession.
4) MECHANISMS FOR SUSTAINABLE PEACE AND SECURITY AS A
FOUNDATION FOR AN EFFECTIVE EAST AFRICAN COMMUNITY
The security issues and conflicts in the EAC region have particular features linked
with the countries’ pre-colonial racial and social class divisions and the colonial
divisionism legacy that prolonged in post-colonial periods. Briefly, these conflicts are
mainly connected to the nature and history of the concerned country, and thus, there is a
need for purely local mechanisms to deal with them and guarantee peace and security in
the region. Undoubtedly, any successful resolution of these conflicts must address their
root causes, involve collective efforts and collaboration between the member states, and
focus on their vision in the Dar-es-Salam Declaration on Peace, Security, Democracy,
and Development in the Great Lakes Region.
a) Addressing the Root Causes of the Conflict for
Sustainable Peace and Security in the East African
One among many possibilities to address the issues of conflicts and profound
the insecurity that continues to ravage the region is to deal with their root causes because they
escalate into complex forms. In other words, there is no single formula to deal with a
particular conflict because an apparent conflict has many other connected ones and is
story-long for each case. Though it is not easy to dress an exhaustive list of causes of
these conflicts, the main reason for recurring conflicts in EAC member states include
economic stagnation and poverty aggravation, mistrust, and suspicion between
governments, massive violations of human rights, and other policies of exclusion and
marginalization, and gender inequality. Additionally, the list of possible causes includes the
use of violence for conquering and conserving power, impunity of crimes of Genocide,
crimes against humanity, war crimes, illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons, a
proliferation of armed groups, organized crime, and illegal exploitation of natural
a) Focusing on Unity and Democratic Approach for Conflicts
Prevention and Resolution
More specifically, they should strengthen democratic institutions to emphasize
development and sustainable democracy, establish an effective early warning security
mechanism, and support domestic programs and activities to promote peace, security, and
respect for human rights. These include academic programs, community services,
training, and seminars. They should also strengthen inclusive and constructive internal
dialogue because an internal exchange facilitates the development of an exit strategy.
Finally, they should build more excellent uniformity of peace and security policy.
Considering the complexity of these conflicts, diplomatic efforts and other
conflict resolution attempts failed. These include negotiation, mediation, or coercive
diplomacy. As a solution, involving local people and using traditional African
experiences can be resourceful for conflict resolutions to achieve the best solutions.
For example, the Rwandan traditional Gacaca Courts played an unprecedented
role in trying the suspects of Genocide committed against Tutsi in 1994, eradicating the
culture of impunity and contributing to unity and reconciliation. Furthermore, all
EAC member states should effectively combat this problem of insecurity by cooperation
and putting their resources together rather than individual state actions.
i) Strengthening Diplomatic Conflicts Resolution Approach within the
When political violence in Burundi steadily escalated during 2015 in response to
the President‘s third term, the African Union mandated the EAC to that conflict. The
The Burundian political crisis was the first test of the organization’s ability to ensure its peace
and security mandate. I was surprised that internal divisions between EAC member states
prevented the organization from mediation in a concerted and determined way,
contributing to the mandate’s failure.
Member states appear to want to use the EAC framework to keep control of any
action to be taken in the region and prevent countries outside the region from interfering,
but peace and security evolvement have not been the EAC‘s mandate.
a) Maximizing the Security and Collective Defense
Opportunities Within the Region
As I introduced earlier, peace and security are critical pillars of the EAC Treaty.
Even with new accessions, maintaining peace and security is a theoretical commitment
among the EAC member states. In the EAC region, there are three most important
regional security organizations to note, namely, the East African Community (EAC), the
East African Standby Forces (EASF) and the Intergovernmental Authority on
Development (IGAD). Unsurprisingly, even these security organizations are subject
to many critiques due to the different challenges they encounter.
i) The Usefulness of Regional Security Organizations
First, in the Somali case, many security standby forces failed to restore security in
Somalia. These include the African Union (AU) itself, African Standby Force (ASF),
Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Eastern African Standby
Force Secretariat (EASFSEC). In restoring peace in Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda
were identified as the countries that would deploy troops under the IGAD Peace Mission
in Somalia (IGASOM). The other IGAD countries were to assist in providing logistics,
equipment, emergency assistance, and training for the Somalia Army and Police.
Beforehand, I must signal that EASF relies on funds from member and nonmember states. Member states fund the headquarters. Exercises, educational programs,
and real-life deployments are funded through friends of EASF; several states are willing
to fund and support EASF. It is a severe impediment to the functioning of a standby
security force. For the EAC, the main challenge is that it might prove difficult for EAC to
act on military security matters within member states.
On another side, IGAD missions depend on military capacities from AU nations
that are not members of IGAD. According to UN norms, states that border a country in
conflict is ineligible to deploy troops into that country. Considering these discussions
and challenges above, I will not be cynical to conclude that peace and security have
deteriorated since the establishment of the EAC. More specifically, this region does not
have a collective defense system to help reinforce security measures.
ii) Empowering the Security Standby Forces Within the East African
As I emphasized above, the existing security organizations have proven
ineffective in ensuring peace and security due to numerous organizational, financial, and
technical challenges. For example, the first deployment of the standby force declared full
operational capability was a deployment of the East African Standby Forces (EASF) in
Burundi in response to the political crisis caused by President’s third term in 2015.
However, it was eventually rejected at the AU level. Even EASF is subject to many
critiques. The organization lacks strategic airlift capability and capacity to provision
troops, funding issues, and adequate communications equipment that could enable
command and control.
In that regard, I understand that this organization should have the decision-making
power, financial capacity, and autonomous structure to be effective. Nevertheless,
contributing countries where these forces are drawn decide whether troops can be
Additionally, several factors contribute to the spread of conflicts within the
region. These include weak state institutional capacity in some states that constrain
frontier security cooperation, the presence of armed and region-destabilizing hostile
forces, mutual suspicions and low levels of trust among states, the multiplicity of
structures, and externally driven initiatives. These factors require strengthening the
standby force to ensure regional peace and security. In the discussions above, I
highlighted the challenges facing the EAC member states in ensuring peace and security.
From these descriptions above, I can infer that creating collective defense forces would
be a starting point, but having a trained national army and police force and ensuring
financial capabilities is a requirement.
iii)Improvement of the Role of the East African Cout of Justice in InterState Disputes Settlement
The East African Court of Justice (EACJ) plays the crucial role of interpreting the
Treaty and other Community laws and ensuring respect for the founding principles of the
Community. In that process, the Court tries to improve working relations with Partner
States. In its judicial works, the Court hears cases on the rule of law violations. It is one
of the fundamental and operational principles of the East African Community Treaty.
However, EACJ does not deal with substantive matters of the case but with rules of law.
It means that it oversees whether the action followed the rules and procedures provided
by the Treaty and domestic laws, while the substantive matters remain under the
jurisdiction of domestic courts. Additionally, the EACJ does not have human rights
violations jurisdiction. It pushes me to question the real work of this Court in
guaranteeing justice to people in the absence of human rights jurisdiction.
b) Learning From the European Community Model on Peace
The EU emphasized the development of competence in justice, home affairs, the
rule of law, and security by establishing and strengthening cooperation of police forces,
cooperation between prosecutors, and border control. Since the creation of the
European Community until its enlargement to the European Union (EU), security and
defense concerns have been of primary importance. In that respect, the Common Foreign
and Security Policy (CFSP) became the second pillar of the EU in the Maastricht Treaty
to coordinate EU member states’ foreign policies and the European Security and Defense
Policy (ESDP) was developed as part of the CFSP.
Therefore, the common security and defense policies constitute one of the EU’s
intergovernmental pillars, implying that member states are responsible for decisionmaking and policy output. However, the dark side is that while committed to the purposes
of the Union, they follow their national agenda. I understand that the role and
influence of the EU in peace and security aimed to strengthen the security and defense
capacity (institutional, material, human and operational, and financial), devote resources
to security and defense purposes, mainly driven by member states’ priorities, and accept
to play and internal and external role as a leading actor in peace and security.
The East African Community started with good intentions of forming a customs
union, a common market, and a political confederation. However, the reality of the
situation is far from the imagined utopia. In this paper, I have demonstrated how effective
regional integration in the East African Community is still a distant dream. In this paper,
I discussed the negative impact of conflicts within the East African Community (EAC)
member states, which undoubtedly affected the ordinary course of economic
interdependence, expansion of the free market, and overall development of regional
integration as well as its external relations with non-member bordering states. The spread
of conflicts in the EAC region from one country to another makes the conflicts complex.
Equally, I have proposed a few solutions that can guide the EAC to return to the regular
track of regional integration.
Unquestionably, the EU has been a regional integration model for many regional
integrations across the globe. Therefore, the EAC should learn policies and strategies for
peace and security from the EU but implement them according to the context and realities
of the EAC region. In the recent political tensions and conflicts discussed earlier, the
EAC member states have been trying to make efforts to create sustainable peace and
stability in the region, though their legal tools and competence to deal with existing and
possible problems do not lead to the expected results/ Efforts were vainly made to resolve
these conflicts. The EAC member states should address the root causes of the disputes to
reach a sustainable solution instead of the consequences of the conflicts.
Given the EAC’s people-centredness, it is helpful to promote public awareness of
emerging issues and galvanize public support instead of relying on the eccentric
judgment of a few officials that have proven to be defeating. They must involve and
empower local citizens and strengthen amicable and traditional conflict resolution
approaches to do so. Furthermore, the regional integration process cannot be separated
from internal and external security situations. Therefore, regional integration and
development can not be fully implemented without eradicating all sources of intrastate
and interstate conflicts. In that regard, Rwanda has been resourceful in the United
Nations and African Union peacekeeping missions in Haiti and South Sudan and
currently doing a great job in combatting terrorism in Mozambique. Thus, a sustainable
peace and security solution in the EAC region should involve Rwanda, which was
excluded from the EAC regional force.
Moreover, the EAC integration should be a reconciliation opportunity between
partner states. EAC partner state leaders should grab the chance of summits and other
official and unofficial gatherings to resolve any matter that might hamper the EAC
integration process, especially the peaceful neighborhood. However, this cannot happen
unless all EAC member states join efforts to fight the Genocide and Genocide ideology,
neutralize, disarm, arrest, and transfer to relevant local and international tribunals the
perpetrators of Genocide, including the forces that committed Genocide against Tutsi in
Rwanda in 1994.
Finally, the EAC member states should work excessively towards peace and
security in the region by preventing conflicts. They should also adopt common strategies
for combating criminal activities, drug trafficking limitation, information exchange
facilitation between member states for criminal intelligence, joint operations and patrols,
and border and interstate security communication facilities.
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List of Footnotes
 Salim Hitimana, Jaya Shukla, and Gaurav Bajpai, ―‗Regional Integration and
Evolving Security Issues in Africa: A Case Study of East Africa Community,‘‖
International Journal of Social Science and Humanities Research 2, no. 4 (October
 Sebastiano Rwengabo, Consensus and the Future of the East African Community, 36
(EAC, Arusha: ACODE Policy Brief, 2016), 20; Art.123, East African Community,
Protocol on the Establishment of the East African Community Common Market, 2010.
 G.M. Khadiagala, ―Pan-Africanism and Regional Integration,‖ An Introduction to
African Politics: Palgrave (2013): 6.
 D. Hyde, ―The East African Railway Strike, 1959-60: Labour‘s Challenge of
Inter-Territorialism,‖ Labor History, 57, no. 1 (2016): 23.
 David Booth et al., ―East African Integration: How Can It Contribute to East
African Development?,‖ Overseas Development Institute (February 2007): 3, http://cdnodi-production.s3-website-eu-west1.amazonaws.com/media/documents/126_xPznIT8.pdf. Accessed March 31, 2023.
 Njeri Mwangi, ―East African Community Integration: One Step Forward, Two
Steps Back,‖ The Africa Report.com, August 26, 2020, accessed March 31, 2023,
https://www.theafricareport.com/39264/east-african-community-integration-one-stepforward-two-steps-back/. Accessed March 30, 2023.
 Booth et al., ―East African Integration: How Can It Contribute to East African
 Mwangi, ―East African Community Integration.‖
 Augustus Mbila, ―Implementation of East African Community Law by Partner
States: A Review of Relevant Laws,‖ Strathmore Law Review 5, no. 1 (August 1, 2020):
 Ibid., 21.
 Dr. John Eudes Ruhangisa, ―Role of East African Court of Justice in the
Realization of Customs Union and Common Market‖ (A Paper for Presentation During
the Inter-Parliamentary Relations Seminar (Nanyuki-V) to be Held at Burundi National
Assembly presented at the EACJ in Customs Union and Common Market, Bujumbura,
Burundi, January 27, 2010), 7.
 Ibid., 3.
 K. Lyimo, ―EAC Does Not Need Fast-Tracking Committees,‖ The East African
(December 4, 2006): 14, http://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/oped/434748-252376-
16nfvpe/index.html. Accessed February 27, 2023.
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 East African Community, Protocol on the Establishment of the East African
Community Common Market.
 Lyimo, ―EAC Does Not Need Fast-Tracking Committees,‖ 28.
 Degefe Gemechu, Evaristo Haulle, and Arkadiusz Zukowski, eds., ―The Impact Of
Intrastate and Interstate Conflicts on the Development of Regional Integration Process:
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Security and Conflicts Management, 2 (Mkwawa University College of Education
(MUCE): University of Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) : Institute of Political Science.
University of Warmia and Mazury (Poland), 2018), 119.
 Busse and Shams, Trade Effects of the East African Community: Do We Need a
Transitional Fund? 6.
 P. Protas and T. Romward, ―Reflections on ‗People-Centered Principle‘ in the East
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<https://doi.org/10.1080/01436590902867136>. Accessed March 1, 202.
 Kenneth Mpyisi, ―How EU Support of the African Peace and Security Architecture
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Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Stockholm (2009): 7.
 Ibid., 8.
 Koffi Sawyer, ―Can the East African Community Stabilize Eastern DRC?,‖ Institute
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 Patrick Knyangara, ―Conflict in the Great Lakes Region: Root Causes, Dynamics
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