The African Union (AU) has recently taken bold steps to integrate the continent further. In 2015 members agreed on a broad integration plan, the Agenda 2063.
We are pleased to announce that the 9th PEPA/SIEL conference will take place on 17-19 May 2020 at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Faculty of Law, in Jerusalem.
In my view, one simple and safe guiding principle for Caribbean states could be whether the proposals on the table advance or diminish the protections guaranteed by the rule of law. These protections include: supremacy of law, equality, accountability, fairness, separation of powers, participation in decision-making, certainty, avoidance of arbitrariness and procedural and legal transparency. Using this as the guiding principle, small states can meaningfully contribute to the debate.
Several Members still consider that a serious consideration of the Interim Arbitration Proposal weakens any efforts to strengthen the Appellate Body or the ongoing DSU reforms. In that context, and even if this proposal is only ad hoc in nature, several procedural and technical issues need to be addressed before serious deliberations can take place.
This new Continental Free Trade bloc is now entrusted with the competence to engage other FTA Blocs such as the European Union (EU), North American Free Trade Area (NAFTA) and Association of South Eastern Nations (ASEAN), on trade policy from an Afri-Centric perspective - the essence of Afri-Multilateralism. Hitherto, the various national governments across the Continent had engaged global trade from the prism of nationalistic interests but this new paradigm affords Africa, for the first time, an opportunity to engage on trans-Sahara, trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific negotiations on an equal footing, and not under the auspices of 'emerging countries' or LDCs.
In my view variable geometry is likely to further slow down the implementation of the AfCFTA because it is a way to accommodate less advantageous countries or countries unwilling to move as fast as others. Even if variable geometry is the only way to move forward in trade agreements of the 21th century as some have argued, it makes trade liberalization more complicated and slows down integration initiatives. More detailed research on variable geometry from an African perspective needs to be undertaken because the continent cannot afford the potential failure of the AfCFTA.
A proper assessment of Rudahindwa’s monograph on the subject of establishing the African Economic Community (AEC) is one that cannot exclude the currents of ongoing reform efforts and the extent to which they are able to move the continent faster towards the dream of achieving the AEC. This invariably raises some methodological questions that border on multidisciplinary approach to regionalism, and the issue of context. The author highlights these two imperatives in the monograph. By using the concept of “developmental regionalism” as an analytical prism, the author situates the discussion within a multidisciplinary paradigm.
Post-Cotonou approaches to innovation require the technocrats to go beyond the jargon of ‘partnership of equals’ and change their own modus operandi: the future relationship must be based on co-production and the case of GIs is a testing ground for this. This would involve dedicating technical teams to work co-productively with farmers’ groups – women, youth, community-based – to understand the local issues that will impact any GI scheme in the regions. But it also means looking at new and novel products, such as cannabis, especially given the drive to legalise cannabis and in particular ‘medical marijuana. By extension, it means recognizing the importance of a development focused approach to the ACP and extending the scope of GIs beyond its current remit which has long-been defined by European values.
Variable geometry is an operational principle under the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community (the EAC Treaty). Much like the European Union’s ‘enhanced cooperation’ provisions, the objective of variable geometry is to reinforce the integration process by allowing progression of cooperation among a group of partner states within the Community in chosen areas and at different speeds. The underlying principle of flexibility is seen in both the Union and Community contexts albeit with necessary procedural differences. Other similarities lie in the requirement that cooperation must be left open to any member state wishing to join later, and that such cooperation can only be invoked as a last resort.
As we approach the expiration of the Cotonou Agreement in early 2020, the time is now for the Caribbean to enter into the negotiating arena with our loins girded with belts of truth about our reality. A reality that is characterized by simultaneous integration and fragmentation; a reality in which we are physically small but geopolitically large; a reality where our small size must be seen as buoyant, agile, proficient strength as we navigate the global arena. A reality where our mature and battered regional institutions must now be renovated and become fit for our future purposes.