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Regional Enforcement of Credible Commitments by New Norms Entrepreneurs: A Survey of 3 Dimensions of Africa’s RECs’ Impacts

Regional Enforcement of Credible Commitments by New Norms Entrepreneurs: A Survey of 3 Dimensions of Africa’s RECs’ Impacts

by Dr. Stephen Magu (Hampton University, Virginia, USA)

Tue, June 15, 13 - 14:15, Zoom 683 2395 8657, Passcode: 839949 (RS Affiliations)


This research project examines the impact of state membership in Africa's Regional Economic Communities (RECs), African Economic Community (AEC) pillars and forums for regional and continental economic and future political integration, on 'three fundamental dimensions of societal-systems: (i) governance, (ii) conflict, and (ii) socio-economic development.' Essentially, it studies whether RECs have had a positive impact on members and the regions. Contemporary IR theory stems from western, Weberian States, yet Africa's RECs are explained by the assumptions of Decentralized Cooperation Theory, Regime Theory and neoliberal institutionalism. But in considering the history of Africa's regional and continental cooperation shows a more productive paradigm arising from Afrocentric concepts of 'humanism', e.g. Ubuntu, Ujamaa, Kagisano, Utu, huhnuism, harambee, among others. These hold that African ‘humanity,’ or communitarianism, is way of life that celebrates the norms of cooperation and is the foundation of African communities. Cooperation is more than a theoretical construct; it is African, albeit now as construed as nations. Cooperation arose from regional challenges and colonialism impacts (e.g. a balkanized Somali state with citizens in four countries), cooperation on shared economic issues (consolidation and integration), joint negotiations, marginal residual infrastructure and the issue of minority governments in southern Africa. Other RECs, e.g. the EAC, succeeded the colonial era but reinvented themselves somewhat. Other RECs had to evolve of necessity: IGADD started by addressing hunger and drought, and transformed significantly. It is not just an AEC pillar, but as IGAD, negotiated the Naivasha Accords (CPA) leading to South Sudan's secession, and then deployed a peacekeeping mission to Somalia (IGADSOM), later taken over by the AU and the UN. Data and case studies illustrate that RECs have had positive impacts on member nations and their region, ranging from increased trade, decreased conflict and more cooperation, but impacts on governance are more nuanced. 

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