The COMESA Treaty recognizes under Article 163 on Scope of Cooperation, that peace and security are fundamental prerequisites to social and economic development and vital to the achievement of regional economic integration objectives of the Common Market. The COMESA Heads of State and Government, at their annual Summit in 1999 also took a deliberate decision that COMESA must address the question of peace and security to facilitate regional integration and development.
The Authority mandated the COMESA Ministers of Foreign Affairs to meet at least once a year to address issues of peace and security. This landmark decision, which is in compliance with Article 3(d) on Aims and Objectives of the Common Market as read with Articles 6 on Fundamental Principles and 163 of the COMESA Treaty launched the COMESA Programme on Peace and Security.
Subsequently, COMESA has established a three-tier structure composed of a Committee of Officials, Ministers of Foreign Affairs and the Heads of State and Government at the top to address issues of peace and security. This structure is complemented by the Committee of Elders, in consultation with other stakeholders in the region including the business community, civil society organizations and parliamentarians. COMESA addresses issues of peace and security in co-ordination with the African Union and other sub-regional organizations to avoid duplication of efforts. The focus areas are; Conflict prevention, Conflict Management, Post conflict reconstruction implemented in countries emerging from conflict; Security (Anti Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism legislation and programmes) and Support for Democracy and Governance through election observation programmes.
The “Trading for Peace programme”, at the border areas of the Great Lakes region which is designed to use trade and investment as a mechanism for peace and stability is also implemented at the border areas.