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Regional Economic Communities in Africa

The African Union has recognized eight Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as officially representative regional associations of African states. These eight RECs have been set up pursuant to the Treaty Relating to the Establishment of the African Economic Community of 1991. While there are actually even more regional cooperation frameworks, only the following have been recognized by a decision of the AU’s Assembly of Heads of State and Government:

  • Arab Maghreb Union (AMU)
  • Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
  • Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD)
  • East African Community (EAC)
  • Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
  • Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
  • Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD)
  • Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Several African countries are members of several RECs at the same time. Therefore, there is a possibility of overlap and conflict of competences. Still, RECs such as ECOWAS and SADC are instrumental to promote regional integration in Africa.

Out of the eight official RECs, three dispose of systems to promote and protect human rights. ECOWAS, EAC and SADC have (or soon will have) sub-regional courts of justice that are expressly or implicitly vested with jurisdiction to pronounce human rights violations:

Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

East African Court of Justice (EAC)

Tribunal of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)

Last change: 12.01.10 - 16:35