Terrorism, kidnappings and cyber-crime are the new forms of insecurity threatening the five East African Community member states.
Addressing the joint meeting of the region’s councils on Cooperation in Defence, Inter-State Security and Foreign Policy Coordination at the Arusha International Conference Centre in Tanzania Monday, the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation Beatrice Kiraso said such threats undermine the proposed regional integration as well as the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
“Instability at our borders have negative spill effects on our people and economic integration as we face new set of menaces including money laundering, human trafficking, illicit drugs as well as fire-arms trafficking,” said Ms Kiraso.
She was responding to concerns raised by most of the delegates regarding the insecurity in Somalia and how it is likely to jeopardise the stability of EAC member states of Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda.
Representatives from Kenya were mostly concerned with the instability and lack of functioning government in Somalia, pointing out that their country which directly borders the Horn of Africa state is at risk.
The meeting is expected to sign a final draft of the EAC Protocol on Peace and Security on Friday.
According to Ms Kiraso, the draft Protocol was adopted by the EAC Council of Ministers and referred to the meeting for conclusion of policy guidelines on counter terrorism, piracy as well as detention, custody and rehabilitation of offenders.
The meeting is also considering the drafting of EAC Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution (CPMR) framework and progress on the development of the EAC early warning mechanism.
The CPMR framework includes initiatives on conflict prevention, making early warning an integral part. It also provides for mechanisms of managing and resolving conflicts, when they occur and establishes a panel of eminent persons, who will serve as peace envoys or mediators.
On the CPMR, Ms Kiraso says: "It is high time we, as Africans, develop our own home grown solutions instead of relying upon international agencies."
The four-day meeting is also expected to adopt the Eastern and Southern Africa and Indian Ocean Maritime Security Strategy and Action Plan designed to help combat piracy in the Indian Ocean.