11.8.2020 : 12:35 : +0200

General Information | Point of Contact | PoA initiatives & activites | Instruments & documents | Members


Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)


Lusaka, Zambia

Web site

Short description

COMESA works to attain a fully integrated, internationally competitive regional economic community. It promotes economic prosperity and peace to achieve political and social stability, and a high standard of living for its people.


COMESA receives its funding from its member states, with fees calculated on the basis of their relative wealth and population size. External partners fund the Programme on Peace and Security. The European Commission has been the largest external contributor, either directly or through the AU, with additional support from USAID and DFID, among others.

COMESA consisted of 21 member states when the 1993 treaty establishing the organization was ratified in 1994. It replaced the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA), which had entered into force in 1982. Five of these founding members have since left the organization and three others have joined, the most recent being Libya. In April 2012 South Sudan was preparing the relevant instruments to attain membership. (Somalia, a PTA member, lacked a functioning government when COMESA was established and it was therefore not eligible to join the new organization.)


19 members (all UN member states)

  • Current members*: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, DRC, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe (Bold: founding member, Grey: suspended member)
  • Former members: Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania
  • Membership pending: South Sudan

Overlapping memberships with other ROs

COMESA members represent:

  • 4 of 5 COI members (France is not a COMESA member)
  • 4 of 5 EAC members (Tanzania is not a COMESA member)
  • 6 of 8 IGAD members (Somalia and South Sudan are not COMESA members)
  • 10 of 15 RECSA members (CAR, Congo, Somalia, South Sudan, and Tanzania are not COMESA members)

*Information accurate as of 15 June 2012

PoA Point of Contact

  • Brian Chigawa
  • Director, Legal and Institutional Affairs/ Acting Coordinator, Peace and Security


PoA-related activities

Peace and security is central to the COMESA regional integration agenda and it is highlighted in the COMESA Treaty as one of its six broad objectives (Chapter Three, Article 3). COMESA actively turned its attention to addressing armed conflicts in 1999 when it established its Programme on Peace and Security, which became operational in 2000. The programme focuses on the economic dimensions of conflicts, including the illicit trade in small arms. Respective authority decisions have expanded the organization’s peace and security architecture to include various programmes and structures such as the Inter-Parliamentary Forum for COMESA, the Committee of Elders, and a body of accredited civil society and private sector organizations to assist COMESA in its preventive diplomacy and conflict resolution work. (As of April 2012 the Programme on Peace and Security had accredited 20 such bodies from ten COMESA member states.) In 2010 at the organization’s 14th Summit in Swaziland, COMESA members decided to task the Secretariat to ‘undertake a comprehensive and results oriented DDR programme … craft a tailored strategy to address [small arms] proliferation … including a survey on Transport of SALW across borders … [and] consider both supply and demand side of SALW in its programme on Peace and Security’. Moreover, COMESA’s Post-conflict Reconstruction and Development Agenda covers numerous PoA-related activities (e.g. addressing legislation to control the arms trade).

PoA-related programmes and initiatives

PoA-relevant cooperation with other ROs

COMESA, through the IRCC, collaborates with the COI, EAC, and IGAD on several programmes (including DDR concerns, brokering legislation, and cross-border cooperation to reduce armed violence and illicit small arms proliferation). RECSA supported COMESA’s Inter-Parliamentary Forum in 2006 on sensitization to the problem of illicit small arms proliferation and the importance of legislative oversight to counter this threat.

Legally binding regional instruments

  • COMESA Treaty (1993)

Other official documents of interest

  • Report of the Second Meeting of COMESA Ministers of Foreign Affairs (2001)
  • Report of the Seventh Meeting of COMESA Ministers of Foreign Affairs (2006)
  • Report of the Eighth Meeting of COMESA Ministers of Foreign Affairs (2007)
  • Decisions of the Fourteenth COMESA Summit of Heads of State and Government (2010)


This profile is also available in other languages:


Share this content
Share this content: