Insecurity and Terrorism: Threat to EAC Integration

Published on 3rd November 2014

Today, terrorism continues to pose a grave threat to international peace and security. A couple of  days  ago  and  in  a  worrying  incident, terrorists  attacked  the Canadian  Parliament, considered  not  only  an unfortunate affront on democracy but an indication that no individual, institution or nation is safe. We stand by all Canadians in condemning this wanton act of violence against an institution that represents the will of the people. 

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.

This article has been read 2,571 times