“The East African Community [EAC] and the refugee question: The need for an EAC treaty of refugees and asylum seekers.”

Does the gradual emergence of regional blocs such as the EU, OAS, SADC, ECOWAS and the East African Community create another layer of governance with particular beneficial or negative impacts on forced migration?

This paper argues that regional blocs such as the EAC could potentially be central to the evolution of positive laws, policies and practice that guarantee the rights of forced migrants on the continent. While highlighting the variance in domestic laws, policies and practices applying to asylum seekers and refugees in EAC member states, the paper argues that the conclusion of an EAC law on refugees and forced migrant which is binding on member states is key to guaranteeing uniform treatment of forced migrants across a Community which generate and host refugees from within it. The paper also highlights the growing negative influence of Western asylum policies on member states of the EAC such as Uganda resulting in the shrinking of the asylum space in a country that had traditionally been hailed for it progressive asylum policies. The paper submits that there is urgent need for the formulation of an autochthonous EAC law on refugees and asylum. This law should reflect the peculiar realities on forced migration in the region rather than merely codifying asylum policies of the EU and the US, which are increasing influencing the asylum practices and policies of member states of the EAC. The paper concludes that a new form of proxy war is being fought in Africa with disastrous consequence on migration and forced migrants and only an urgent and robust discourse with a view to developing a progressive EAC instrument on refugees and asylum will stem its negative tide.

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