Law Links - November 2014

Visiting Fulbright scholar focuses on economic development and cooperative security agreements in Africa

Visiting Fulbright Scholars Kennedy Gastorn with fellow visiting scholars Jing Heng, and Spencer Sydow.

Visiting Fulbright Scholars Kennedy Gastorn with fellow visiting scholars Jing Heng and Spencer Sydow.

"You cannot have economic development without security,” says Kennedy Gastorn, whose nine-month term at SUNY Buffalo Law School as a visiting Fulbright scholar ends in December.

That hard truth, and how it applies to his native Tanzania and other nations in East Africa and across the continent, is the focus of Gastorn’s research in Buffalo, under the sponsorship of the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy.

This sojourn in Buffalo is his first visit to the United States. “For a scholar, this is the place to be,” he says. “People here know the value of democracy and the value of giving equal opportunities to people. And there is a very friendly faculty in Buffalo, which enriches my study.” He cites scholars he has met through the Baldy Center, including SUNY Buffalo Law Professor David A. Westbrook and political science Professor Claude E. Welch, both of whom share his interest in human rights issues. He’ll also present on his current and past work in seminars for Law School faculty members.

Gastorn’s research project grows out of three years of study on the East African Community. The EAC, which comprises the nations of Tanzania, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda, is a treaty-based regional government, one of several overlapping alliances of African nations.

His research asks how effective the EAC has been at ensuring public safety against both internal strife and international hostilities. “Most conflicts in Africa are trans-border,” Gastorn says. “We have come to realize that good neighbors are the basis for the future. And there is no way to achieve peace alone, because the insurgents will be planning from another country.” He points out that geography makes cooperative security agreements necessary: Tanzania shares a border with eight neighboring countries.

The EAC was formed in 1999, with Rwanda and Burundi joining in 2007. Gastorn says the agreement provides for all three branches of government – an executive branch in the Council of Ministers, a parliament that makes transnational laws and a justice court.

Much of the EAC treaty involves economic development, such as free trade agreements. But, Gastorn says, providing for peace and security in the region is a vital underpinning of economic progress. He cites “cooperation in disaster management, intelligence exchanges, joint military operations against piracy and terrorism, standardization of training, joint military exercises to build confidence and trust. ... The plan is to have mutual defense pacts, so that an attack on one is an attack on all.”

In 2012, he says, the EAC produced two agreements on this front, the Protocol on Cooperation in Defense and the Protocol on Peace and Security. They have been signed by the respective heads of state but not yet ratified by their legislatures, and Gastorn says his research is looking at “what can we expect when these protocols are put in place. I’m trying to investigate, why has it taken so long? Also, where are the contentious issues?” Toward that end he’s researching other economic development and security agreements, such as those in the European Union and between the United States and Canada. He expects to publish the results of his inquiry in book form.

“I really needed some international experience and exposure to world-class research institutions,” says Gastorn, who teaches in the Department of Public Law at the University of Dar es Salaam School of Law, where he co-founded the Tanzanian-German Centre for Eastern African Legal Studies. He says he heard several U.S. scholars speak highly of Buffalo and decided to make that the first choice on his Fulbright application.

And once he arrived, he says, he found two small-world coincidences. He discovered that he had met Joseph E. Schneider, SUNY Buffalo Law’s director of post-professional and international education, at a previous conference in Vancouver. And he learned that a star student at the University of Dar es Salaam happened to be in Buffalo as well – Dean Makau W. Mutua.