Strathmore Center for Law and Policy Roundtable on the East Africa Community
On Thursday 19 September 2019, the Strathmore Center for Law and Policy (SCLP) organised a roundtable discussion on the East African Community (EAC). It was under the theme ‘An East African Political (Con) Federation: Legal and Political Considerations for a Rule-Based Polity’. The roundtable was attended by students of law and international relations, lecturers, judges, economists and members of various EAC organs. The aim of the round-table was to trace the historical evolution of the EAC and, looking at its political and economic objectives, to see the lessons that it could learn from the experiences of its sister community, the European Union. This was captured in the opening remarks of Prof. Borja Lopez Jurado, the Acting Dean of the Strathmore Law School.
After his opening remarks, Justice Lenaola of the Supreme Court of Kenya and former judge of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) started off the discussion with a keynote speech. The Justice emphasized the kind of institutional capacity and public participation that would be required to guide policymakers to create new arrangements to spearhead the political confederation, that the EAC is meant to be. He also highlighted that one of the main challenges faced by the EAC is that some Partner States have not been willing to meet their obligations under the EAC Treaty. There has also been, he added, a lot of political interference with the EACJ, the judicial arm of the Community. These challenges have posed serious drawbacks, he stated, to the implementation of the objectives of the Community, which are to come up with a common market, a monetary union and to guarantee the free movement of people and goods. Despite these challenges, he concluded, there is still a sliver of hope in having a strong EAC.
This keynote speech set the tone for the discussion that followed, which were structured in three panels. Discussions included the road map to political integration, the challenges of a confederation as a system of governance for the EAC, and constituting institutional balance in an East Africa Federation.
The final session of the round-table realized the need for a hub for research and development of the EAC to see how the participants can contribute to building a strong EAC.
This article was written by Nciko Arnold
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