The East African Community: Intraregional Integration and Relations with the EU

Edited by Jean-Marc Trouille, Helen Trouille and Penine Uwimbabzi (Routledge 2021).

This book brings together African and European experts from a variety of disciplines to examine the origins and current state of the East African Community (EAC). Over the course of the book the authors analyse the rich tapestry of intraregional relations in East Africa, the EAC’s similarities with the European Union, and the future challenges faced by the organisation.

Widely regarded as the most advanced and successful regional integration scheme in Africa, the EAC is an intergovernmental organisation consisting of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, and, since 2016, South Sudan. It is the oldest among Africa’s regional economic communities, and among the continent’s most promising growth areas, with a long history of integration, punctuated by several false starts and traumas that have profoundly affected its body politics. When initially set up, the EAC model bore a striking resemblance to the process undergone by the European Union. Now, as the EAC continues to establish its own identity, this book argues that whilst Europe’s history may provide useful insights for EAC member states, the EAC experience could in turn also offer lessons for the European Union.

Helen’s chapter ‘Regulating the EAC: the origins, jurisdiction and authority of the East African Court of Justice’ explores the origins of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), the judicial body responsible for ensuring that East African Community Partner States respect the obligations laid out in the EAC Treaty (Article 23, EAC Treaty). It examines its roots as an appellate court serving certain communities in parts of Eastern Africa during colonial times, its retention as the Court of Appeal of East Africa after independence and upon the establishment of the first East African Community in 1967. It then considers the evolution of the earlier court into the EACJ of today – no longer a court of second instance ruling on appeals relating to domestic issues, but a fully-fledged international institution with a significant role to play both in furthering the integration process in the region and in bringing about change in the practices of Partner States at national level. In doing so, it reflects on some of the challenges which the Court has faced as it seeks to establish its authority in the EAC. It concludes that, despite these challenges, the EACJ has built on the successes of its predecessor in harmonising EAC law and in bringing a valuable contribution to the EAC’s principles of respect of the rule of law, democracy, good governance and human rights, principles which are also deeply embedded in the European project.