The First International Conference on Regional Integration Issues and SADC Law was organized by the Faculty of Law, Eduardo Mondlane University (UEM) in Maputo from 23 to 25 April. It was held in cooperation with the Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Mozambique.
More than 280 participants attended the conference, featuring speakers such as H.E. Tomaz Augusto Salomao, Executive Secretary of SADC, who made a very strong presentation on the vision, mission and development prospects of SADC in the region.
The international conference was part of a wider program for institutional and human capacity building initiated by UEM aiming at the mainstreaming of the implementation of regional integration policies and the harmonization and unification of the legal frameworks of SADC Member States so that the integration process can bear real benefits to all members.
The regional integration process is progressively recognized as an important factor for a more sustainable and more equitable development in the developing world. As SADC is launching the free trade area (FTA), there is a need to initiate an institutional capacity building program, promoting knowledge development and a more inclusive SADC integration agenda.
"The UEM Project was recognised as a key component of this process and could serve as a model for SADC countries and other regional integration communities on the African continent," reported the conference.
From the overall statements, it was recommended that the international conference become a permanent event and that a second international conference on regional integration issues and SADC Law be scheduled as soon as possible.
The conference also endorsed the establishment of a Regional Academic Partnership Network linking universities and research institutions within the SADC region, as well as with international partners and donors.
In addition, a Regional Centre of Studies on Integration and Law will be created in partnership between UEM, the Faculty of Law and other regional and international partners, which will work to implement the mainstreaming agenda on regional integration through collaborative research (by the Regional Network members and other universities) and to work on the harmonization and unification of SADC law as a priority. UEM will also draft a proposal for the creation of a Masters degree on Regional Integration Law.
Conference participants included representatives of universities from Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, South Africa, Zambia, China and Belgium. All national government departments, academic and research institutions were also represented. Participating regional and international institutions included: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Southern African Trade Competitiveness Hub, Trade & Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS), Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa (TRALAC), and the African Development Bank.