We all also recall the tragedies that have befallen the region over the years, the latest incident, being the attack on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi leading to loss of lives, maiming, destruction of property and citizens’ peaceful co-existence. We can flash back memories to several similar attacks in Kampala, Uganda and the simultaneous episodes on the Embassy of the United States of America in Nairobi and in Dar es Salaam.
In effect, such unwarranted attacks should be a wake-up call that as a region we need to be vigilant at all times and that containing terrorism and ensuring peace must assume greater importance and significance in the agenda of Regional Economic Communities. Peace and Security have been acknowledged as critical to creation of the right environment upon which to foster regional integration in line with objectives of the Community as envisaged in Article 5 of the EAC Treaty.
Partner States have further agreed to foster an atmosphere conducive to peace and security through co-operation and consultations to prevent, better manage and resolve any outstanding disputes between them. This is anchored on Article 124 of The Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community spelling out wide-ranging approaches promoting a stable and secure environment and harmonious co-existence of East Africans.
I wish to congratulate the Partner States for appending their signatures to the Protocol on Peace and Security. I am informed thus far that, the Republics of Rwanda and Uganda have already ratified the Protocol. I call upon the rest of the Partner States to speedily follow suit.
I urge Partner States to take it upon themselves to look inwards and to enhance good governance systems as envisaged under Chapter 23 of the Treaty. I say so because I believe that there is clear correlation between security and governance interventions in terms of cause and effect. Of essence hereunder are: a number fundamental areas including:
a) Promoting rule of law and access to justice
b) Adhering to democratic principles and strengthening of electoral processes,
c) Protection and promotion of Human Rights
d) Strengthening Anti-Corruption, Ethics and Integrity institutions.
Legislation is another area and we need not spare any efforts to tighten laws that make the region secure. In May 2012, EALA passed the East African Conflict Management Bill, 2011. The object of the Bill (which is still undergoing assent) is to establish a Conflict Prevention Management and Resolution Mechanism responsible for identification of potential sources of conflict and devising response options. It further seeks to ensure provision of pre-emptive measures to address conflict situations, develop capacity for mediation and negotiations to forestall and diffuse conflicts and to propose modalities for intervention and stabilization of conflict resolutions.
In August this year, EALA in collaboration with the African Leadership Centre (ALC) held a conference on East African Societies and Regional Security. The conference was indeed the foundation for the institutional teamwork strategy to address security matters in the region.
Ourwork as legislators is cut out – that of enacting laws, appropriation, oversight and representation. It is time for the region to develop instruments that effectively respond to terrorist attacks besides instituting mechanisms such as Crisis Coordination Arrangements which aim at coordinating responses to crises and exchange of information.
No single nation, let alone, institution, possesses all the necessary means for effective security management. Be that as it may we live in an era where security challenges have become multi-dimensional, and in such regard, our responses should also be multi-dimensional. This calls for concerted approach and instituitionalisation of instruments in our operations.
By Rt. Hon (Dr) Margaret Nantongo Zziwa,
Speaker of EALA.