Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS)
Official Website – http://www.ceeac-eccas.org
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
At a summit meeting in December 1981, the leaders of the Central African Customs and Economic Union (UDEAC) agreed in principle to form a wider economic community of Central African states. ECCAS was established on 18 October 1983 by the UDEAC members and the members of the Economic Community of the Great Lakes States (CEPGL) (Burundi, Rwanda and the then Zaire) as well as Sao Tomé and Principe. Angola remained an observer until 1999, when it became a full member.
ECCAS began functioning in 1985, but was inactive for several years because of financial difficulties (non-payment of membership fees) and the conflict in the Great Lakes area. The war in the DRC was particularly divisive, as Rwanda and Angola fought on opposing sides. ECCAS has been designated a pillar of the African Economic Community (AEC), but formal contact between the AEC and ECCAS was only established in October 1999 due to the inactivity of ECCAS since 1992 (ECCAS signed the Protocol on Relations between the AEC and the Regional Economic Communities in October 1999). The AEC again confirmed the importance of ECCAS as the major economic community in Central Africa at the third preparatory meeting of its Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in June 1999.
Presided over by President Pierre Buyoya of Burundi, the 2nd Extra-Ordinary Summit of ECCAS was held in Libreville on 6 February 1998. The Heads of State/Government present at the summit committed themselves to the resurrection of the organisation. The Prime Minister of Angola also indicated that his country would become a fully-fledged member.
The summit approved a budget of 10 million French Francs for 1998 and requested the Secretariat to:
Obtain assistance from UNECA to evaluate the operational activities of the secretariat; to evaluate the contributions due by member states; and the salaries and salary structures of employees of the secretariat;
Convene an extra-ordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers as soon as possible to evaluate the recommendations of UNECA; the Council should then draw up proposals for a new administrative structure for the secretariat and revised contributions due by each member state.
The summit also requested countries in the region to find lasting and peaceful solutions to their political problems. The chairman also appealed to member countries to support the complete lifting of the embargo placed on his country.
During the inauguration of President Bongo of Gabon on 21 January 1999, a mini-summit of ECCAS leaders was held. The leaders discussed problems concerning the functioning of ECCAS and the creation of a third Deputy Secretary-General post, designated for Angola. Angola formally joined the Community during this summit.
The 10th Ordinary Session of Heads of State and Government took place in Malabo in June 2002. This Summit decided to adopt a protocol on the establishment of a Network of Parliamentarians of Central Africa (REPAC) and to adopt the standing orders of the Council for Peace and Security in Central Africa (COPAX), including the Defence and Security Commission (CDC), Multinational Force of Central Africa (FOMAC) and the Early Warning Mechanism of Central Africa (MARAC). Rwanda was also officially welcomed upon its return as a full member of ECCAS.
The 11th Ordinary Session of Heads of State and Government in Brazzaville during January 2004 welcomed the fact that the Protocol Relating to the Establishment of a Mutual Security Pact in Central Africa (COPAX) had received the required number of ratifications to enter into force. The Summit also adopted a declaration on the implementation of NEPAD in Central Africa as well as a declaration on gender equality.