Sovereignty and the 'United States of Africa': Insights from the EU

The concept of sovereignty and the extent to which states will be ready to transfer some of their sovereignty to an overarching institution

Member states of the African Union have proposed an ambitious integration effort designed to create a continental government. The success of such a bid will be dependent on the resolution of various legal, political and economic issues that are crucial to a government of this nature. One of the fundamental questions that states have to deal with is the extent to which they are willing to cede sovereign powers they currently enjoy to a continental body or government to enable it to achieve their common objectives. Comparable experiences from the European Union institutional framework illustrate that enhanced economic and political unity demands closer cooperation and self-sacrifice that sometimes conflict with traditional notions of state sovereignty. In this paper the concept of sovereignty is discussed as well as the extent to which states have been willing to and will be ready to transfer some of their sovereignty to an overarching institution in a bid to form a solid and effective supranational governmental body.

About the author

George Mukundi Wachira is a research fellow, South African Institute for Advanced Constitutional, Public, Human Rights and International Law and advocate of the High Court of Kenya. The author thanks Jakkie Cilliers, Tshepo Madlingozi, Sabelo Gumedze, Sanele Sibanda, Godfrey Musila and Solomon Dersso for insightful comments and suggestions on drafts of this paper. Any errors and omissions remain those of the author.

Development partners
This paper and the research upon which it is based was made possible through the generous funding of the Switzerland Embassy in Ethiopia, the Danish Embassy in Ethiopia and the Deutsche Gesellschaft fu?r Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ).
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