A Flexible Approach to Enabling the Free Movement of People in Southern Africa
Keywords:regional integration, free movement of people, flexibility, opt-out, close cooperation, Southern African Development Community (SADC)
To intensify regional integration in the context of a common market, it is fundamental that citizens within a region are allowed to move with little or no restrictions. The Southern African Development Community (SADC) initially adopted a Draft Protocol on the Free Movement of People in 1995, which later failed when South Africa, Botswana and Namibia withdrew from the agreement. The Protocol on Facilitation of Movement of Persons (Facilitation Protocol) was adopted in 2005. The two-thirds majority needed for its enforcement has yet to be reached. Hence it has no legal effect. Several regional arrangements like the European Union (EU) and the East African Community (EAC) within Africa, have utilised an approach of flexible integration with binding legal provisions that facilitated progress in their integration schemes. Considering that little has been achieved towards the movement of people in the SADC, this article explores the feasibility of adopting flexible integration, advanced by African scholars to encourage a response in regulating the movement of people. This paper builds on existing scholarship by arguing for a clear provision defining the approach to flexible integration including the criteria for initiating and utilising flexible integration. This provision will allow member states with similar interests to move beyond the impasse towards the regulation of movement and promote the movement of people in the region or afford member states the choice to opt out of the regional arrangement.
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