COMESA - Peace, Security, Stability and Governance

The strengthening of peace, security, stability and good governance are stated as one of its aims and objectives in article 3(d) of the Treaty Establishing COMESA. The fourth summit of the COMESA Authority that was held in Nairobi, Kenya in May 1999 mandated Ministers of Foreign Affairs of COMESA member States to meet annually to deliberate on matters regarding the promotion of peace, security and stability in the regional economic community. The workings were aligned with the framework of the African Union’s Peace and Security Architecture that work with regional economic communities on issues relating to preventing, managing and resolving conflicts on the continent.

The Committee on Peace and Security, which is composed of high-level officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Member States, correspondingly serves to enhance accountability and promote good governance in the regional economic community. More importantly, the Committee makes recommendation for the decision-making organ, the COMESA Authority. Recognizing the complexity of the conflicts in the region the COMESA Authority decided on a three-tier system for faster intervention, including programmes to strengthen stability, prevention of conflicts, and post conflict programmes for member States. COMESA has also established a Committee of Elders to better pursue the objectives.

To strengthen peace and ensure stability, COMESA set up the structures for the engagement of both State and non-State actors, and also strategic stakeholders across borders. Its conflict prevention programme is one of the established mechanisms to avert conflicts from breaking out by dealing with structural and economic instigating factors. In this context, the three primary programmes are: COMESA Conflict Early Warning System that is a part of the African Union Continental Early Warning system; WAR Economy Component of the Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution Strategy for the Eastern and Southern Africa Region; and the Regional Political Integration and Human Security Support Programmes that aims to tackle post-conflict management issues for countries emerging from conflict not to relapse. An example is the current six Trade Information Desks that successfully serve the purpose of trading for peace and stability in conflicted border posts.[1]

COMESA has, together with the European Union, Intergovernmental Authority on Development, East African Community and the Indian Ocean Commission, established an action plan to ensure regional maritime security in the fight against piracy. COMESA is, for instance, in the forefront of combating money laundering and financial intelligence of piracy in its region.[2]

[1] United Nations, “Role of COMESA in Consolidating Peace, Security, Governance and Development within the context of Agenda 2063” (Africa Renewal, presentation given by Elizabeth Mutunga, Head of Governance, Peace and Security, 2014). Available from

[2] European Union, Programme to Promote Regional Maritime Security (Brussels, 2013). Available from