Chapter 8: Regional and international conventions and protocols

8 Regional and international conventions and protocols


Enhancing the Delivery of Security in Africa


African Human Security Initiative

Monograph No 159, April 2009


Regional protocols Zambia has signed

This section presents and discusses regional protocols and agreements Zambia has signed and ratified, as well as regional organisations it belongs to and the ones to which it should belong. It also shows protocols and agreements Zamia must ratify. Next international protocols and treaties signed by Zambia and those it needs to ratify are presented. It also shows international organisations that are aimed at combating crime and mitigating its impacts and that are likely to stabilise the country’s internal security and that the country should join for that reason.

Zambia is an active member of the AU and also belongs to several other continental organisations. The regional protocols and agreements Zambia has signed and ratified dealing with crime, security and law enforcement are presented in table 11.


Table 11: Regional treaties and protocols signed by Zambia


Table 11 shows that Zambia has signed several regional protocols and treaties aimed at fighting crime. However, the country is still at various stages of processing the regional protocols that it has decided to ratify and implement. Out of 15 regional protocols that Zambia has signed in this category, only 6 have been ratified. This could be interpreted as a lack of commitment by Zambia because some of the protocols and agreements not yet ratified had signatures appended as far back as 1992 and 1998.

The table also shows the time it took the country to sign some of these protocols. For instance, the SADC Protocol Against Corruption which Zambia signed in August 2001 was only ratified almost two years later, in July 2003, while the SADC Protocol on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Other Related Materials in SADC was signed in August 2001 and only ratified in January 2003.

Delays in signing and/or ratifying protocols and treaties have led to situations where several important treaties have been signed by some states, but cannot be put into force because a quorum is lacking. This generally occurs when several states who have already signed the document have not yet ratified it. For instance, although Zambia signed the SADC Protocol on Extradition, which is critical in the fight against crime, in 2003 and ratified it a year later, the protocol has not yet entered into force because many SADC member states have not ratified this instrument.

The country’s capacity and efficiency in processing regional protocols need to be enhanced. Furthermore, the slow or poor responses from the relevant ministries, especially the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with regard to requests for information on protocols and treaties do not make the best impression. Yet the country deserves a high rating, given its highly active role in the sub-region and Africa.

Other regional treaties and protocols that Zambia Should ratify

Apart from the treaties and protocols that Zambia has ratified or that are at various stages of being processed, there are other important treaties and protocols dealing with crime, law enforcement and internal security where the country would benefit from ratification. These protocols are listed below:

International treaties Zambia has signed

Apart from the need to collaborate and cooperate with regional institutions dealing with security, crime and law enforcement, Zambia also needs support from international organisations outside the African continent. It is therefore not surprising that Zambia is a member of the UN as well as several other international organisations. According to the Department of International Law, Treaties and Agreements of the Ministry of Justice, Zambia has signed several international conventions/protocols. The conventions dealing with security, crime and law enforcement to which Zambia is a participant and/or signatory and deposited with the Secretary General of the United Nations are set out in table 12.

Table 12 International conventions and protocols ratified by Zambia

Table 12 shows that Zambia is a participant and signatory to 24 international conventions/ protocols related to the fight against crime and security. These instruments are currently at different stages of being processed. However, the table also shows that Zambia has not completed the processing of a number of important conventions and protocols on which it has sent notification to the United Nations. For example Zambia has not yet signed the UN Convention Against Corruption, despite sending notification of interest in this protocol to the UN on 11 December 2003. There other treaties and conventions which Zambia has not yet signed either.

In other cases Zambia has signed international treaties and conventions, but has not yet ratified them. These include the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961), and there are others in the same category which cannot be fully processed because they have not been ratified. In order to obtain the benefits accruing from these treaties and protocols, Zambia needs to ratify them. As in the case of regional protocols and treaties, Zambia seems to lack the capacity to process these important protocols and conventions in a timely manner, if at all.

International conventions and protocols that Zambia should ratify

Although Zambia is currently processing various international protocols and conventions related to crime and law enforcement, there are a number of other conventions and protocols that the country should ratify as a matter of urgency. These are listed below:

The ratification of these conventions and treaties will without a doubt benefit the country’s fight against crime and improve the security and law enforcement situation. It will be complimentary to the benefits derived from the existing protocols and conventions as well as those still being processed.

Participation in activities of law enforcement organisations

The government of the Republic of Zambia realises that the fight against crime is an international one and that to succeed it needs to cooperate with other countries and organisations that have experience and expertise in this area. Furthermore, these countries may have evidence about criminal activities committed by the same suspects that the country may be investigating or prosecuting. For this and other reasons, Zambia belongs to and participates in meetings of the organisations that fight crime, deal with security issues and issues such as narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, human rights violations and corruption. The organisations of which Zambia is a member include the following:

Although it has not ratified all the protocols, Zambia is an active member and participates in the activities of other regional and international organisations and agencies involved in crime and law enforcement. Through institutions such as the Zambia Police Service, Drug Enforcement Commission and Anti-Corruption Commission, Zambia enjoys support of regional and international communities in its efforts to fight crime, corruption, drug abuse and trafficking in narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.

At the regional level, Zambia is credited as being among the first countries in the Eastern and Southern African regions to establish an independent, autonomous and professional organisation with the primary aim of fighting the drug problem and money laundering. It was therefore not surprising that Zambia is reported to have played an active role in the setting up of a drug desk at the AU Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Membership of these professional organisations dealing in crime and law enforcement enhances the country’s capacity for networking and exchanging ideas and information on crime and crime prevention. It also facilitates bilateral arrangements for apprehending and even extradition of criminals and enhances its efficiency and effectiveness in fighting sophisticated criminal activities.


The outcome of the study indicates that Zambia needs to undertake major reforms in its criminal justice system to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. Many important protocols in this area have not yet been ratified, while the country’s capacity to process these instruments seems to be inadequate. In addition, not all the signed instruments have been ratified and a further weakness in Zambia’s capacity to process these instruments is the country’s failure to domesticate some of the ratified treaties. While the positive impact of ratifying these instruments cannot be questioned, it should be emphasised that domestication is critical. Unless the instruments are domesticated, the country will be unable to prescribe and impose penalties on offenders irrespective of where the crime has been committed, as the instruments would not be part of the laws of the land.