COMESA Peace and Security Mandate
COMESA’s active engagement in addressing the conflicts in the region dates to 1999 due to concerns on what appeared then as widespread and persistent armed conflicts in the region. This was after a lengthy debate on the devastating impact of wars and conflicts on the COMESA integration agenda as noted in preceding sections. The Fourth Summit of the COMESA Authority, which was held in Nairobi, Kenya in May 1999 then decided for formal structures and modalities for COMESA engagement on matters of peace and security under the Article 3(d) of the COMESA Treaty. The Authority mandated COMESA Ministers of Foreign Affairs to meet at least once in a year to discuss modalities for addressing peace and security and to also monitor and advice the Authority on promotion of peace, security, and stability.
Peace and Security Decision Making Structure
The Authority, in 1999 directed that the activities of the Programme would have to work within the framework of the African Union, hence build towards the Continental Peace and Security Architecture. The Authority also decided on a three-tier system to enable faster intervention.
As articulated by the 2nd Meeting of the COMESA Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Authority consists of Heads of State and Government in accordance with Article 8 of the COMESA Treaty and it is the highest decision-making body in matters of peace and security. The Authority has power to delegate its functions to the Bureau which may carry out its functions of conflict prevention through preventive diplomacy in consultation with the Central Organ of the African Union Mechanism of Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution and other competent sub-regional organizations. The COMESA Authority considers and endorses the Ministerial Decisions.
COMESA Ministers of Foreign Affairs
The Ministers of Foreign Affairs meet at least once a year to consider modalities of promoting peace and security in the COMESA Sub-region. The Ministers also provide policy directives on programmes implemented by the Secretariat.
The Committee on Peace and Security
The Committee on Peace and Security comprises high-level officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Member States. They meet at least once every year to discuss the modalities of peace and security in the region and makes recommendations to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs.
The Secretariat (Governance Peace and Security)
The Secretariat under the general supervision of the Secretary General has responsibilities of initiating actions for conflict prevention through preventive diplomacy upon official request from a Member State. The 2nd Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs defined the role of the Secretariat as:
- To provide administrative logistical and technical support to the Bureau towards fulfillment of its functions;
- To convene meetings of the Committee on Peace and Security, and
- To endeavour to utilize information on States or conflicts when advising the Bureau of the Authority as well as establish a databank on conflicts in the sub-region
In the COMESA Organogram, the Programme on Peace and Security falls under the Office of the Secretary General as the Governance, Peace and Security Unit.