Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and Regional Integration in the East African Community (EAC): A Literature Review
Kimutai Gilber, Ken Oluoch, Paul A. Opondo
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As part of a doctoral study, this review makes a case for the study of the influence of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on the integration of the East African Community (EAC). Beginning with philosophical postulations on the meaning and role of CSOs in governance to contemporary conceptions of their nature and anticipated influence, the article delves into scholarly work on their actual participation in the European Union (EU), the Americas, Asia, and Africa. Except for a few divergent observations, there is a general academic consensus on the significance of CSOs in governance facets such as policy making, enhancing citizen participation, transparency, and accountability. However, except for the EU where numerous studies on their influence exist, there is a dearth of the same in other parts of the world. In the EAC, treaty provisions for the anticipated role of CSOs in the integration process are explicit. However, more than two decades after its re-establishment, a lacuna exists on their actual influence on community policy processes. Further studies are therefore recommended to fill this practical and academic gap. Additionally, it will be important to unearth the determinants of their influence and the strategies they adopt in the unique African governance setting.