Regional Organisations in the Horn of Africa: From State-Centred to People-Centred Integration?

Zeray Yihdego, Harry Verhoeven*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In the post-1945 world, and particularly so after decolonisation, states have sought to advance their interests by organising themselves through intergovernmental bodies at global, regional and sub-regional levels. The Horn of Africa is no exception. Its constituent countries have joined a variety of regional organisations, including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the East African Community, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development. These bodies have variable, often overlapping, membership and mandates, and are all nominally committed to advancing regional integration through economic cooperation and the peaceful settlement of differences. Despite this ostensibly wide-ranging and dense set of institutional mechanisms and formal legal ties, the Horn of Africa continues to be divided by violent conflict, hampered by poor levels of infrastructural connectivity and regulatory coordination, and held back by its peripheral role in the global political economy. This raises the question of how to explain the disconnect between the stated commitment to regionalism and the reality on the ground of division and antagonism in which the regional often serves as a source of conflict rather than of collective pursuit of common interests. After historicising the complex relationship of Horn of African states with international organisations and reviewing the legal instruments through which these might further impact on regional cooperation, the chapter argues for a human-centred approach that involves expanding citizens’ participation in regional governance and undertaking short- and long-term institutional and normative reforms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationContemporary Governance Challenges in the Horn of Africa
EditorsCharles Fombad, Assefa Fiseha, Nico Steytler
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)9781032207926
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Publication series

NameAfrican Governance


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