Safeguarding Human and People's Rights within the Agenda of the East African Community

International concern for human rights is not a novel concept. With the rise of regional integration through the establishment of Regional Economic Communities (RECs) came the motivation to establish regional human rights systems that would build on the human rights protections accorded in the international system. The East African Community (EAC), as part of its fundamental principles, requires member states to promote good governance including adherence to the principles of democracy, the rule of law, accountability, transparency, social justice, equal opportunities and gender equality. Ultimately, EAC member states are required to recognise, promote and protect human and peoples’ rights in accordance with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (African Charter). Yet, despite these various progressive provisions, the EAC is still encumbered by a concerning and chequered human rights record.  States have continued to act in ways that are antithetical to their human rights obligations, and this has in turn suggested the existence of deficiencies within the EAC’s human rights framework. A discourse highlighting the positive aspects of the various mechanisms within the system while also pointing out the challenges, be they of a normative or institutional nature, is therefore critical to any wider discussion of reforms. It is against this backdrop that the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) resolved to commission the development of this publication that analyses the EAC human rights framework, its interplay with the wider African human rights system and the experiences of practitioners in utilising the relevant judicial and quasi-judicial mechanisms in the system.  At 30 years of existence, the KHRC is one of Kenya’s and indeed the region’s premier non-governmental organisation (NGO). The KHRC’s mission is to root human dignity, freedoms and social justice in Kenya and beyond. The KHRC mandate is to enhance human rights centred governance at all levels. Therefore, the pursuit of an inquiry towards a rights-based and people-centred EAC falls well within the mission and mandate of the KHRC.
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