East African Community Regional Chapter Workshop: Countering Illicit Trafficking and Irregular Threats
Dr. Julius Rotich
Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community
3 September, 2012
Senior Staff ACSS
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I on behalf of the Secretary General, who would have wished to be with you here today, but for the call of duty couldn’t, welcome you to Tanzania and Arusha in particular, the seat of the EAC for this important workshop. This event is of special significance to the EAC, heralding partnership and cooperation between the EAC and ACSS in the quest for global Peace and Security.
The theme of this workshop addresses itself to issues of specific concerns to the EAC, particularly taking note of the stage of integration we are in, which provides for implementation of measures that would encourage free movement of persons, capital and other factors of production. The question of illicit trafficking and threats from irregular networks is thus pertinent and hence the timing for this workshop would not have been better.
Besides issues around the workshop, I am most thankful to ACSS for seizing the initiative to bring together the East African Alumni, a gathering that gives us an opportunity to share with you the EAC Security vision and also explore means with which this distinguished gathering, with deep understanding and appreciation of security dynamics regionally and globally, can be of relevance and use to shaping the regional security agenda.
While the EAC Peace and Security Agenda is nascent, having been shaped by the conclusion of the Regional Strategy for Peace and Security, and the establishment of a unit to coordinate the sector in 2006, the integration process as it shapes up today requires us to be ahead, in particular targeting threats that may derail or undermine our integration gains. Whereas movement of persons is positive in absolute terms, we must be alive to the windows it opens for illicit networks to thrive. Intergration thus also facilitate networking by criminal groupings!
The last ten years have witnessed rapid growth in integration related initiatives within the community. As the community expands, so are the threats to it. The region we are located in has a history of instability, with war economy fed by regional and global illicit networks taking root. Traffickers in persons, mineral resources, narcotics and SALW have all found enabling conditions to operate in the region. The recent tragic events in Tanzania where over 60 persons were found dead in transit containers is a pointer to challenges we must live to. Of serious concern is the exploitation of the hub status of the region by international cartels not just for transiting but also establishment of a growing domestic market for hard drugs, which threaten the gains the region has made over time. The perception that the region plays an important role in laundering of illicit proceeds from Piracy and other criminal acts does not augur well for our integration.
Today, more than at any other time before, the region is faced with the challenge of home grown terrorism, with extensive recruitment and radicalization networks developed by terror groupings operating in the region. This situation is compounded by structural issues that provide a fertile ground for these activities to thrive. The events in Kampala in 2010 and the recent events in Kenya are a constant reminder to the region on the need for vigilance and engagement of Communities in security. It is only through collective efforts that we as a region can confront terror.
The list is long and will continue expanding as globalization takes root and we continue being exposed to threats that have not been known to the region before.Cybercrime, counterfeiting, and environmental crimes are just some of those security threats that are gaining ground in the region.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The EAC is seized of all these issues and is addressing them in a number of ways, some of which we will share in the course of our deliberations within the next four and a half days. We welcome ideas and support from well meaning partners, and you as the owners of the region have homegrown proposals you can share with the community in overcoming these challenges. In so doing, we must also take note of the density of organizations with Peace and Security mandate operating within the region and interrogate how complementarity can be inculcated and comparative advantage along with technical competence can be harnessed to support collective gains.
Our partnership with ACSS is at a very nascent stage, but it has come at no better time. We at the EAC are looking forward to building on this initial activity through a structured process that will provide for long term engagement for the collective benefit of the region. I believe that as we walk along, with the help of this distinguished audience, we shall be able to develop strategies and action plans that will guide the EAC response to the threats.
Once again may I thank to you all for setting aside time from your schedules to come and share perspectives on regional concerns and look forward to insightful deliberations.