REGIONAL COOPERATION AS A PILLAR TO COMBAT CRIMES WITHIN A REGIONAL BLOCK. A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS BETWEEN THE AFRICAN UNION AND EUROPEAN UNION
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The concept regional cooperation is simply for one or more units of local government to agree to collaborate to provide or share some public service, to operate a public facility, or to plan for their joint futures. Organized crime is regarded as a major threat to human security around the world. Organized crime retards global social, economic, cultural, and democratic development, wreaking havoc on developing and fragile states in particular. Because of the high presence of fragile states serving as potential breeding grounds for such activities, the threat and challenges of organized crime in Africa in general and West Africa in particular, are enormous. Drug trafficking, advanced fee and Internet fraud, human trafficking, diamond smuggling, forgery, cigarette smuggling, illegal manufacture of firearms, firearms trafficking, armed robbery, and oil theft and smuggling are all examples of organized criminal activities in Africa. Using the comparative data methodology, we have established that the influx of narcotics, cyber-crimes, human trafficking has been able to flourish due to lack of regional cooperation. Hence, we recommend that a needs assessment be Conducted for effective implementation of relevant regional, continental and international legal instruments. The conclusion of this thesis is based on findings and challenges affecting regional cooperation. Findings reveals that irrespective of the principles, legal and institutional framework put in place to warrant effective cooperation, states still face some challenges such maintaining a strong collaboration and will power to cooperate, keeping to the terms and agreements of their cooperation and even acquiring the efficient resources for their cooperation. Hence, recommendation is put forth to water down such challenges, such as developing a common platform to address cyber security since cybercrime crosses borders and cannot be fought by one country, states must begin to cooperate to deal with crime threats at national and regional levels, establishing a body to monitor and report crimes across borders.
The approach should also involve governments, industry, civil society organizations and to a large extent security agencies. The fight against crime requires coordinated effort among all stake holders such as government bodies, educational institutions, business organizations and law enforcement authorities.
Lawmakers must be well trained and sensitized to help implement legislation that addresses cyber threats at all levels.
“Regionalism” is a polysomic term that represents both a subfield of international relations (IR) that studies regions of the world and a process of formation of regions themselves. Its meaning and content have evolved substantially from its inception in the 1940s to its most recent contributions in the early 21st century. More precisely, the field of regionalism was severely marked by neo functionalism theory and an economic reading of international relations in the years of the Cold War and then embraced new contributions from post-positivist and critical theories and methodologies from the 1990s onward, which featured not only different manifestations and causes but also different normative meanings. Regionalism has progressively moved away from Europe over the years (both as a site of production of research and as an empirical case study) to explore non-European and, more widely, non-Western and postcolonial domains, challenging Eurocentric theoretical and epistemological assumptions in IR. In addition, the two subfields of comparative regionalism and inter regionalism have become prominent. The field of regionalism is more dynamic than ever, developing, self-innovating, and becoming more conceptually aware, while at the same time being susceptible to weaknesses, blind spots, and potential for further improvement and deeper dialogue with IR theory. Regionalism can therefore be defined as a political ideology which seeks to increase the political power, influence and or self-determination of the people of one or more subnational regions. Regionalism refers to formal economic cooperation and economic arrangements of a group of countries aimed at facilitating or enhancing regional integration.
Regional cooperation on the other hand simply means one or more units of local government agreeing to collaborate to provide or share some public service, to operate a public facility, or to plan for their joint futures. To better understand the concept of regional cooperation, a broader view of regionalism is very important.
Regional cooperation promotes dialogue amongst partners and builds bridges between the European Union (here after referred to as EU) and six Eastern European countries themselves. Regional programs complement national assistance programs and support the priorities of the Eastern Partnership. Regional programs, also support rule of law, policy dialogue, border management, higher education, civil society, youth and culture. The main financial instrument supporting cooperation with the six Eastern Partnership partner countries is the European Neighborhood Instrument (ENI). It replaces the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument, which funds programs and projects currently being implemented.Judicial cooperation in criminal matters was the third of the three pillars of the European Unions. It was named Justice and Home Affairs before 1999. The pillar existed before 1993 and 2009, when it was absorbed into a consolidated European Union structure and became the area of freedom, security and justice. The pillar focused on cooperation in law enforcement. The EU is a geo-political entity covering a large portion of the European Continent. It is founded upon numerous treaties and has undergone expansions and secessions that have taken it from 6 member states to 27, a majority of the states in Europe.
Apart from the ideas of federation, confederation or customs union, the original development of European Union was based on supranational foundation that would make war unthinkable and materially impossible, and reinforce democracy amongst its members. This principle was the heart of the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and later the Treaty of Rome.
It is however vital for this research to bring out the fact that, the EU has a spill-over effects when it comes to combating crimes within its regional blocks. The EU has taken steps to sign treaties, implement laws, and even establish courts which all aim towards combating crimes within their regional blocks. For example, steps were taken towards establishing a Single Council and Single Commission. On April 8th 1965, the institutional set up of the communities was simplified by the Merger Treaty, and a single commission of the European Communities. It entered into force on July 1st 1967. Until that date, there were three councils and commission and a single court of justice.
The EU signed treaties such as the Maastricht Treaty, which was signed on February 1992 and came into force in July 1st1993, and it contained 7 parts.
The idea of Africa unity, that is African states coming together to cooperate can be traced as far back as the nineteenth century, when the idea of Pan-Africanism first gained traction. The establishment of the African union in July 2002 began the third phase in the project of forging pan-African unity; the first phase was the institutionalization of Pan-Africanism through the six pan-African congresses held between 1900 and 1945, and the second phase was the inauguration of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) in May 1963. The African Union is the continental champion on political cooperation and economic integration in Africa. Within the 54 member states, the AU is the largest and the most diverse regional organization in terms of member income levels, population and geographical features. Its diversity and size give an indication of the profound challenges the AU faces in carrying out its mission of promoting regional cooperation and integration in Africa. Further, the states face a range of intricate and persistent security threats and organized violence, as well as economic, development and governance challenges.
The African Union has taken many steps to ensure the prevention and even combating of crimes within its regional block. In 2019, the AU established the African Union Plan of Action on Drug Control and Crime Prevention. It has taken steps in bringing out plans of actions, programs of action, standard minimum rules, principles, guidelines, safeguard procedures and many others to assist fighting against and preventing against crimes such as drug trafficking, human and fire arms trafficking, terrorism, corruption, economic and financial crimes within its regional block. Despite these steps taken by the EU and AU, the problems still continue. There’s a mass wave of crimes perpetuated by faceless individuals despite a suitable legal framework, international and regional cooperation and national laws. It is based on the aforementioned grievances that this research has embarked on this study to find out the root causes of this problems and to make policy recommendations to address the issues raised.
All through the course of this study and from the statement of problem given above, this work will attempt to exhaustively provide answers to the following questions which act as realm of this research. This question shall be divided into the main and specific research questions.
Main Research Questions
To what extent are the cooperation mechanisms put in place by EU and AU effective to curb crimes within both regional blocks?
Specific Research Question
What is the concept of regional cooperation, with emphasis to combating crimes?
What are the nature and forms of combating crimes within the EU and AU?
How effective is the regional cooperation in both blocks with regard to combatting crimes?
Which policy recommendations are necessary to facilitate the fighting against crimes within a regional block?
The overall purpose of this study is to examine if the cooperation mechanisms put in place by the EU and AU are efficient to curb crimes within both regional blocks.
To achieve the above goal, the following objectives must be addressed;
- To examine the concept of regional cooperation to combatting crimes
- To explore the nature and forms of regional cooperation within the EU and AU with regard to cooperation to combat crimes.
- To analyze the effectiveness and drawbacks of regional cooperation.
- To propose recommendations that will facilitate full cooperation in combating crimes within regional blocks.