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Joint Meeting of Sectoral Committee on Cooperation in Defence, Interstate Security and Foreign Policy Coordination Concludes in Arusha

East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, Tanzania, 11 August 2014: The Joint Meeting of the Sectoral Committees on Cooperation in Defence, Interstate Security and Foreign Policy Coordination concluded over the weekend at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.

The meeting was convened to consider the Concept Paper on the proposal to vary the mandate of the proposed EAC Peace and Security Council expected to be tabled at the 29th Meeting of the EAC Council of Ministers scheduled to take place on 25- 29 August 2014 in Arusha, Tanzania. 

The meeting was attended by Senior Officials drawn from the Ministries responsible for EAC Affairs, Defence, Home/Internal Affairs/Security and Foreign Affairs of the Partner States.

Addressing the delegates, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation, Mr. Charles Njoroge recounted the previous decisions and attempts to establish an EAC Peace and Security Council.  He exhorted the delegates to come up with a workable and practical proposal that mirrors the commitment to regional security, taking into account the need to accommodate the need for broader coordinated and approximated continental infrastructure. 

The Chairperson of the meeting, Kenya’s Ag. Director, Political Affairs in the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, Ms Alice Yalla noted that deepening integration and addressing environment through which liberal trade will thrive requires sustainable security arrangements.

She noted that the proposed Peace and Security Council had been on agenda for the last three years and it was important for the delegates to propose solid recommendations for consideration by the next level.

The meeting considered the concept paper and made amendments to ensure responsiveness to issues raised by the 2nd Extra-Ordinary Joint Meeting of the Sectoral Councils on Cooperation in Defence, Interstate Security and Foreign Policy Coordination that was held in March 2014.

However, a few issues remained outstanding for example some Partner States were of the view that the Peace and Security Council be established to advise the Summit on all Peace and Security matters while the existing Sectoral Council will continue to perform their current roles of guiding implementation of Sectoral Cooperation imperatives and Summit directives of cross cutting nature that would emanate from Peace and Security Council. Upon establishment of the Peace and Security Council, detailed operational modalities shall be developed by the Partner States.

Other Partner States  favoured a peace and security structure which shall be mandated to deal with comprehensive peace and security threats and felt that there was no need of establishing a new structure rather the mandate of the  current Joint Meeting of Sectoral Councils on Cooperation in Defence, Interstate Security and Foreign Policy Coordination be enhanced to execute the implementation of the Articles 4 -13 of the EAC Protocol on Peace and Security.

The Joint Meeting would be allowed to report to the Council on routine activities and whenever they meet to address urgent security threats then they should be allowed to report directly to the Summit which would solely convene to address urgent Peace and Security threats.

Furthermore, the Joint Meeting should be designated to Sectoral Council on Peace and Security as this would allow it to report straight to the Summit without attracting amendment of Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community. 

In that regard the Council would be advised to delegate and assign the Sectoral Council on Peace and Security to report straight to the Summit on Peace and Security matters that require Summit directive to respond to the evolving urgent security issues.

The Joint Meeting of the Sectoral Committees on Cooperation in Defence, Interstate Security and Foreign Policy Coordination recommended to the Joint Coordination/Consultative Committee to consider and give guidance on these divergent views. 

Notes to Editors
At its 2nd Extra-Ordinary Joint Meeting held on 29th March 2014, the Sectoral Councils on Cooperation in Defence, Interstate Security and Foreign Policy Coordination agreed in principle on the need to establish a Peace and Security Council with a comprehensive mandate.

That Extraordinary Meeting directed the EAC Secretariat to develop a concept note that must bring forth, among others; legal implications; the inadequacies of the existing structure and mandate; proposed realignment of functions to avoid duplication; and fate of the two existing Sectoral Councils established to handle Peace and Security Council.

The Secretariat developed the Concept Note and submitted to the Joint Meeting of the Sectoral Committees on Cooperation in Defence, Interstate Security and Foreign Policy Coordination for consideration ahead of the 29th Meeting of the Council of Ministers taking place on 25- 29 August 2014.

ENDS
Source: www.eac.int