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AN APPRAISAL OF THE CONCEPT AND PRACTICE OF ECONOMIC INTEGRATION UNDER INTERNATIONAL LAW: A CASE STUDY OF ECOWAS

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 Format: MS WORD ::   Chapters: 1-5 ::   Pages: 56 ::   Attributes: Reviews ::   127 people found this useful

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CHAPTER TWO

 

THE CONCEPT AND LEGAL FRAMEWORK FOR ECONOMIC INTEGRATION

UNDER THE ECOWAS TREATY

2.1   The Concept of Economic Integration

Asante S.,[1] in his introductory remarks to defining economic integration, states that the term denotes a state of affairs or a process involving the combination of state economies into larger economic regions.  As a process, it includes all measures aimed at eliminating discrimination between economic units from different countries.  It can also be considered as a state of affairs characterised by the absence of various forms of discrimination between countries.

In further examining the meaning of economic integration within the West African context, Asante,[2] quoting Mutharika B.,[3] stated that the peculiarity of the characteristics of the African economies and the evolution of political and other institutions, makes it unrealistic to apply the term in the same sense as used in the developed regions of the world.  He said the economic and political realities of the West African sub-region must be borne in mind, and in this respect, defined economic integration as a process whereby two or more countries in a particular area voluntarily join together to pursue common policies and objectives in matters of general economic development or in a particular economic field of common interest to the mutual advantage of all the participating states.  The essence of the definition is that any scheme of economic integration must be voluntary and that each state must demonstrate its willingness to pursue certain policies in close consultation with the other states.  

The expression ―economic integration‖ can be used in different ways. As Bourenane N.,[4] points out, it can be used generically in reference to growing economic ties among countries which may or may not be geographically contiguous — linkages between Africa and Europe, for example.  However, the term is most commonly used restrictively to refer to increased trade and factor flows between neighbouring countries, as a result of trade liberalization or the coordination of economic policies.

2.2       Legal Framework for Economic Integration Under the ECOWAS Treaty

Given the deepening globalization, and competition among nation states, cooperation has remained a sine qua non for development. This is reflected in the growing number of regional economic blocs, which seeks to foster cooperation and integration of their economies as a pathway to enhancing competitiveness and sustainable development.

For Africa, this realization is rooted in the fact that like other regional economic groupings such as the European Union, Africa‘s strength lies in Pan-African Cooperation.  Formal attempt at cooperation however, dates back to 1949 with the establishment of the Southern Rhodesia Customs Union.  Since then several other economic and political groupings have emerged including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Southern

African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC), the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Central African Economic and Monetary Community of Great Lakes Countries (CEPGL), the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CENSAD). 

The emergence of the regional groupings was mainly informed by the complexities and interrelatedness of the challenges being faced by African states on such matters as the environment, population growth, poverty, trade and development which no single state standing alone can handle effectively.  This made the initiative of promoting cooperation among African states highly relevant and pertinent.[5] 

When most African countries achieved independence in the late 1950s-60s, their governments were confronted with a wide range of political, economic, social and cultural problems; with vital implications for the development of the new states. 

Ladan T.,[6]  in an overview of ECOWAS integration and harmonisation efforts, states that the sub-regional body was founded by Law, based on the agreement of member states who reaffirmed the establishment of the union and decided that it shall ultimately be the sole economic community in the region for the purpose of economic integration and the realisation of the objectives of the sub-region. 

He further states that under Article 3 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993, the aims of the Community are to promote cooperation and integration, leading to the establishment of an economic union in West Africa in order to raise the living standards of its peoples, and to maintain and enhance economic stability, foster relations among member states and contribute to the progress and development of the African Continent.  In pursuit of these aims, Article 4 of the ECOWAS Revised Treaty provides for the declaration of the member states to adhere to the following fundamental principles;

a)      Equality and inter-dependence of member states.

b)      Solidarity and common defence.

c)      Inter-state cooperation, harmonisation of policies and integration of programmes.

d)      Non-aggression between member states.

e)      Maintenance of regional peace, stability and security through the promotion and strengthening of good neighbourliness.

f)       Peaceful settlement of disputes among member states, active cooperation between neighbouring countries and promotion of a peaceful environment as a pre-requisite for economic development.

g)      Recognition, promotion and protection of human and peoples‘ right in accordance with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples‘ Right.

h)      Accountability, economic and social justice and popular participation in development.

i)       Recognition and observance of the rules and principles of the community.

j)       Promotion and consolidation of a democratic system of governance in each member

state.

k)      Equitable and just distribution of the costs and benefits of economic cooperation and integration. 

These developments and concerns led to a new thinking on how best to fast track development within the deepening globalization of the world economy. In Africa, this led to the institutionalization of an Inter-African Convention Establishing an African Technical Cooperation

Programme by the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU) in 1975[7]. The Convention was aimed at ensuring the success of the various existing regional economic blocs, such as the newly created ECOWAS.  It was also to provide a facilitating legal springboard for the establishment of new economic blocs and relevant agencies where  need arises, such as the Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa with headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria, in 2001 , and the  Nigerian Technical Cooperation Fund (NTCF) domiciled in the African Development Bank, in 2004. 

2.3        Interstate Approach to Economic Integration 

West Africa is indeed endowed with abundance of human and natural resources, a coastal location coupled with an impressive and huge potential for economic growth.  Yet, it has realised very little of its potential, as a result of the combined effects of political instability, infrastructural deficits and poverty.  This necessitated the ECOWAS Commission to take a new dimension to development and integration of the sub-region by initiating the formulation of Community Development Programmes (CDP) which seeks to put greater emphasis on the participatory and inclusive approach to development through the active involvement of both states and non-state actors.  With the formulation of the CDP, the Commission aims at transforming the current ECOWAS of States into an ECOWAS of Peoples, which is part of its Vision 2020 that was adopted by the Authority of Heads of State and Government in June 2007. 

 


[1] Asante, S. K. B.  Regionalism and Africa‘s Development:  Expectations, Reality and Challenges. Ipswich Book Company Ltd., Suffolk, England, (1997) p. 18.

 

[2] Ibid

 

[3] Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of Malawi and immediate past Chairman of the African Union, who in his Acceptance Speech as AU Chair on 31 January 2010 reiterated that Africa is not a poor continent, but the African population are poor and called on Africans to develop Africa.

[4] Bournane Naceur.  Theoretical and Strategic Approaches to Regional Integration and Cooperation. Published by Africa World Press Inc. In conjunction with International Development Centre, Canada, (1997) at page 47.

[5] Bassi S. Y.  Director-General, Directorate of Technical Cooperation in Africa, Abuja Nigeria. At a Sensitisation Programme On Directorate of Technical Cooperation In Africa (DTCA): A Flagship Technical Cooperation Agency for Africa. Being a Paper Presented at the Federal University of Technology Akure, Nigeria, 8th July 2010.

 

[6] Ladan T. (2007)  Materials and Cases on International Law.  Published by Ahmadu Bello University Press Ltd, Zaria  p. 384.

[7] Bassi S. Y.   Op cit, p. 4

 


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