Building capacity to help Africa trade better

SADC Legal Texts and Policy Documents


SADC Legal Texts and Policy Documents

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SADC Legal Texts and Policy Documents



The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has been in existence since 1980, when it was formed as a loose alliance of nine majority-ruled states in Southern Africa known as the Southern African Development Coordination Conference (SADCC), with the main aim of coordinating development projects in order to lessen economic dependence on the then apartheid South Africa. SADC’s legal status is that of an international organisation which has the legal capacity and power to “enter into contract, acquire, own, dispose of movable or immovable property and to sue and be sued (Art. 3(1) of the SADC Treaty).

The main policy making organ is the Summit of Heads of State or Government. The policies are implemented through decisions adopted by the Council of Ministers. Since its inception, SADC has constantly engaged in developing policies and strategies in the different areas of regional cooperation and integration, aimed at achieving the objectives contained in its Common Agenda (Article 5 of the Treaty). These strategies and policies have been consolidated into sectoral strategy papers, Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and Protocols, which are key to the process of Community building. For more information, please go to the SADC website.

Member states

SADC has 16 member states that include Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar (that was suspended in March 2009 after a coup d’état), Malawi, Mozambique, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The 38th Ordinary SADC Summit in August 2018 noted that the Union of Comoros has deposited its Instrument of Accession, becoming the 16th full Member of SADC.

SADC Treaty

The Treaty, signed in August 1992 and amended in 2001, 2007, 2008 and 2009, is the constitutive document establishing SADC and the framework from which all subsequent instruments are derived. It sets out the main objectives of SADC – to achieve development and economic growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration. All the Protocols, Memoranda of Understanding, Charters and Declarations are subordinate to the Treaty, and derive their legitimacy from the Treaty.

  • Declaration and Treaty of SADC (PDF, 1.37 MB)

  • Consolidated Text of the Treaty of SADC, as amended - 2014 version (PDF, 350 KB)
    • Agreement Amending the SADC Treaty, 2001 (PDF, 923 KB)
    • Agreement Amending Article 22, 2007 (PDF, 88 KB)
    • Agreement Amending the SADC Treaty, 2008 (PDF, 193 KB)
    • Agreement Amending Articles 10 & 14, 2009 (PDF, 121 KB)
    • Agreement Amending Article 10A, 2009 (PDF, 110 KB)

SADC Vision 2050

By 2050, SADC envisions a peaceful, inclusive, competitive, middle- to high-income industrialised region, where all citizens enjoy sustainable economic well-being, justice and freedom. Leaders have resolved to consolidate SADC moving towards 2050 by leveraging areas of excellence and implementing priorities to achieve sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, through good governance and durable peace and security in the region as well as the removal of all barriers to deeper integration; and guided by the purposes and principles of the SADC Treaty and Agenda.

SADC Vision 2050 is expressed in three pillars: I. Industrial Development and Market Integration, II. Infrastructure Development in Support of Regional Integration, and III. Social and Human Capital Development; and built on a firm foundation of Peace, Security, and Good Governance.

  • SADC Vision 2050

SADC Protocol on Trade (including Annexes)

This protocol is arguably the most important legal instrument of SADC. It aims to enhance cross-border investment by liberalising intra-regional trade. The objective is the implementation of a SADC Free Trade Area; therefore, the Protocol contains all the obligations member states need to observe in order for the regional arrangement to be compatible with WTO rules. SADC amended the Protocol in 2000, 2007, and 2008, clarifying aspects of Rules of Origin for products to be traded between the Member States of SADC, safeguard measures, and incorporating new annexes on settlement of disputes and trade in sugar. The Annexes on SPS Measures and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) were approved in July 2014. Article 3 of the Protocol, which aims at the elimination of barriers to intra-SADC trade, was amended in August 2016. French and Portuguese versions of certain texts are available to download, as indicated.

  • Protocol on Trade, 1996 (PDF, 2.68 MB)

    • Annex I concerning the Rules of Origin (consolidated text) - revised 2008 (PDF, 2.58 MB)
    • Amendment Protocol on Trade in SADC, 2000 (PDF, 13 KB)
    • Agreement Amending Article 3, 2016 - updated August 2017
  • SADC Protocol on Trade (consolidated text) - July 2014 (PDF, 2.33 MB)

    • Annexes I to V (PDF, 102 KB)
    • Annex VI concerning the Settlement of Disputes (PDF, 30 KB)
    • Annex VII concerning Trade in Sugar (PDF, 25 KB)
    • Annex VIII concerning Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) Measures (PDF, 269 KB)
    • Annex IX concerning Technical Barriers to Trade (PDF, 477 KB)

  • Protocol on Trade in Services, 2012 (PDF, 1.39 MB)
    • Negotiating and Scheduling Guidlines for the 1st round of SADC Trade in Services Negotiations, February 2011

  • Protocol on Trade in Services - updated August 2016 [English, French, Portuguese]

SADC Protocols

Protocols are legally binding instruments necessary to ensure cooperation between Member States in implementing SADC’s agenda by providing codes of procedure and practise on various issues. They contain sets of guidelines and recommendations aimed at realising specific objectives of SADC. Currently, SADC has 26 Protocols, including those that have not yet entered into force. Several Protocols and other legal instruments were amended during the 36th SADC Summit which took place in Swaziland in August 2016.

  • Protocol on Finance and Investment (consolidated text) - August 2006 (PDF, 347 KB)
    • Agreement Amending Annex 1: Cooperation on Investment, 2016 [English, French, Portuguese]
    • Annex 12: Anti-Money Laundering, 2011 (PDF, 2.02 MB)
    • Annex 13: Cooperation on Financial Matters, 2016 [English, French, Portuguese]

  • Protocol against Corruption, 2001 (PDF, 32 KB)
    • Agreement Amending the SADC Protocol on Corruption, 2016 [English, French, Portuguese]

  • Protocol on Gender and Development, 2008 (PDF, 1002 KB)
    • Agreement Amending the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development, 2016 [English, French, Portuguese]

  • Protocol on the Tribunal, 2014 (PDF, 453 KB) 
    • Protocol on Tribunal and the Rules of Procedure Thereof, 2000 (PDF, 96 KB)
    • Agreement on Amending the Protocol on Tribunal, 2007 (PDF, 122 KB)

  • Protocol on Employment and Labour (PDF, 584 KB)
    • French (PDF, 687 KB)
    • Portuguese (PDF, 695 KB)

  • Protocol on Culture Information and Sport (PDF, 45 KB)
  • Protocol on Control of Firearms, Ammunition and other related materials (PDF, 33 KB)
  • Protocol on Combatting Illicit Drugs (PDF, 27 KB)
  • Protocol on Education and Training (PDF, 69 KB)
  • Protocol on Energy (PDF, 49 KB)
  • Protocol on Environmental Management for Sustainable Development (PDF, 668 KB)
  • Protocol on Extradition (PDF, 33 KB)
  • Protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of Persons (PDF, 599 KB)
  • Protocol on Fisheries (PDF, 53 KB)
  • Protocol on Forestry (PDF, 46 KB)
  • Protocol on Health (PDF, 41 KB)
  • Protocol on Immunities and Privileges (PDF, 25 KB)
  • Protocol on Legal Affairs (PDF, 22 KB)
  • Protocol on Mining (PDF, 30 KB)
  • Protocol on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (PDF, 32 KB)
  • Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation (PDF, 29 KB)
  • Protocol on Shared Watercourses (PDF, 42 KB)
  • Protocol on Tourism (PDF, 32 KB)
  • Protocol on Transport, Communications and Meteorology (PDF, 184 KB)
  • Protocol on Wildlife Conservation and Law Enforcement (PDF, 35 KB)

SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP)

Politically, SADC adheres to an agenda that extends well beyond the target of achieving a free-trade area that was agreed upon by the member states in the SADC Trade Protocol. These ambitious targets are set out in the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan of 2003. Although it is not a legally binding agreement, it enjoys political legitimacy. This strategic plan plots an integration agenda that includes the target of a free-trade area by 2008, a customs union by 2010, a common market by 2015 and an economic union by 2018. A revised RISDP (2015-2020) was published by SADC in 2017, and in early 2021, the new iteration for 2020-2030 was published.

  • SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030
  • SADC Revised RISDP 2015-2020: Summary (PDF, 1.04 MB)
  • SADC Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan, 2003 (PDF, 854 KB)
  • SADC RISDP summary (PDF, 175 KB)
  • Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan Desk Assessment, 2011 (PDF, 4.78 MB)

The Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ on Defence, Politics and Security (SIPO) is key the implementation framework for the Protocol on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation (1999). This Protocol is based on the overarching objectives and Common Agenda of SADC, and is directly linked to the RISDP, the blueprint for development in the region.

  • Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO I), 2004 (PDF, 308 KB)
  • Harmonised Strategic Indicative Plan for the Organ (SIPO II), 2010 (PDF, 954 KB)

Regional Policies, Strategies and Guidelines

SADC’s mission is to provide strategic expertise and co-ordinate the harmonisation of policies and strategies to accelerate regional integration and sustainable development. The Deputy Executive Secretary: Regional Integration is responsible for five Directorates that work in SADC’s main Regional Integration themes: Trade, Industry, Finance an Investment; Infrastructure and Services; Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources; Social and Human Develop and Special Programmes; and Policy, Planning and Resource Mobilisation.

  • SADC Policy for Strategy Development, Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, 2012 (PDF, 973 KB)
  • SADC Model Bilateral Investment Treaty Template with Commentary, 2012 (PDF, 779 KB)
  • SADC Financial Regulations, 2012 (PDF, 869 KB)
  • SADC Regional Agricultural Policy, 2013 (PDF, 207 KB)
  • SADC Customs Information Communication Technology (ICT) Strategy, 2013 (PDF, 540 KB)
  • Private Sector Involvement Strategy in Customs Matters, 2013 (PDF, 412 KB)
  • SADC Sub-Committee on Customs Cooperation Indicative Strategic Plan 2012-2016
  • SADC Industrial Development Policy Framework, 2014 (PDF, 412 KB)
  • SADC Procurement Policy, 2014 (PDF, 482 KB)
  • Guidelines for Cooperation in Excise Taxes in the SADC Region, 2016 (PDF, 1.30 MB)
  • Guidelines for Cooperation in Value Added Taxes in the SADC Region, 2016 (PDF, 1.23 MB)
  • SADC Regional Strategy for Development of Statistics 2013-2018
  • Regional Guidelines for the Regulation of Food Safety in SADC, 2011 (PDF, 1.43 MB)
  • Regional Guidelines for the Regulation of SPS matters in SADC, 2011 (PDF, 1.42 MB)
  • SADC Decent Work Programme 2013-2019 (PDF, 466 KB)
  • SADC Regional Strategy and Framework of Action for Addressing Gender-Based Violence 2018-2030 (PDF)

SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap

The SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) was approved by the Extra-Ordinary Summit in Harare on 29 April 2015. It aims at accelerating the growth momentum and enhancing the comparative and competitive advantage of the economies of the region. The Costed Action Plan was approved by the SADC Council on 18 March 2017, and proposes an approach that calls for very decisive actions by SADC Member States to promote investment, trade, and industrial regionalisation.

  • Action Plan for SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap (PDF, 1.51 MB)

  • SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap, 2015-2063 (PDF, 2.58 MB)
    • French (PDF, 2.36 MB)
    • Portuguese (PDF, 2.63 MB)

In March 2016, the SADC Council of Ministers agreed and endorsed the SADC Industrialisation Week to be held annually as a regional public-private engagement platform aimed at fostering new opportunities for intra-regional trade and investment.

The first Industrialisation Week was held on the margins of the 36th SADC Heads of State and Government Summit in Mbabane, Swaziland in August 2016. The Fourth Annual event was held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, from 5-9 August 2019.

  • Inaugural SADC Industrialisation Week: Esibayeni Declaration of the Southern Africa Business Forum, 2016 (PDF)
  • 2nd Annual SADC Industrialisation Week: Sunninghill Declaration 2017 - Private Sector Communiqué (PDF)
  • 4th Annual SADC Industrialisation Week: Dar es Salaam Declaration, 2019 (PDF)

SADC Regional Development Fund

The Agreement operationalising the Regional Development Fund was signed on 31 August 2016. The overall purpose of the Fund is to create a regional financing mechanism for economic development and sustainable growth in SADC.

  • Agreement on the Operationalisation of the Regional Development Fund (PDF, 316 KB)
    • French (PDF, 299 KB)
    • Portuguese (PDF, 374 KB)

Regional Infrastructure Development Masterplan

Signed at the SADC Summit in August 2012, the Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP) guides development in key infrastructure such as road, rail and ports, and also acts as a framework for planning and cooperation with development partners and the private sector. The master plan is in line with the African Union’s PIDA and will constitute a key input into the Inter-Regional Infrastructure Master Plan and TFTA.

  • Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan: Executive Summary, 2012 (PDF, 3.93 MB)
    • RIDMP Transport Sector Plan (PDF, 10.21 MB)
    • RIDMP Energy Sector Plan (PDF, 2.75 MB)
    • RIDMP ICT Sector Plan (PDF, 4.4 MB)
    • RIDMP Meteorology Sector Plan (PDF, 1.6 MB)
    • RIDMP Tourism Sector Plan (PDF, 2.45 MB)
    • RIDMP Water Sector Plan (PDF, 3.57 MB)

SADC Declarations

Declarations are manifestos dealing with a more specific subject than a protocol. It sets out the intention and commitment of the member states to improve certain areas of cooperation.

  • Declaration on Youth Development and Empowerment in SADC, 2016 (PDF, 98 KB)
    • French (PDF, 107 KB)
    • Portuguese (PDF, 104 KB)

  • SADC Regional Appeal for Humanitarian and Recovery Support, June 2016 (PDF, 8.97 MB)
  • SADC Declaration on Regional Infrastructure Development, 2014 (PDF, 178 KB)
  • Declaration on Regional Cooperation in Competition and Consumer Policies, 2009 (PDF, 2.97 MB)
  • Declaration on Poverty Eradication and Sustainable Development, 2008 (PDF, 214 KB)
  • Dar es Salaam Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, 2004 (PDF, 20 KB)
  • Declaration on HIV/AIDS, 2003 (PDF, 20 KB)
  • Declaration on Information and Communications Technology (ICT), 2001 (PDF, 14 KB)
  • Declaration on Productivity, 1999 (PDF, 13 KB)
  • Declaration on Refugee Protection within Southern Africa, 1998 (PDF, 262 KB)
  • Declaration on Gender and Development, 1997 (PDF, 12 KB)
  • Declaration on the Role of Information and Communication in Building the SADC, 1995 (PDF, 47 KB)

SADC Memoranda of Understanding

MoUs are preliminary legal documents describing an agreement between parties which will eventually lead to a protocol.

  • MoU on Cooperation in the Field of Competition Policy, Law and Enforcement, 2016 (PDF, 210 KB)
  • MoU on Macroeconomic Convergence, 2002 (PDF, 18 KB)
  • MoU on Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Metrology, 1999 (PDF, 3.22 MB)
  • MoU on Cooperation in Taxation and Related Matters, 2002 (PDF, 1.89 MB)
  • MoU on the SADC Standby Brigade, 2007 (PDF, 329 KB)
  • MoU on the new Headquarters of SADC, 2007 (PDF, 341 KB)
  • MoU between SADC and Associated SADC Chambers of Commerce Industry, 2000 (PDF, 810 KB)

SADC Charters

Charters usually incorporate an institution or collective by specifying its principles, rights, privileges and responsibilities.

  • Charter Establishing the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development (CCARDESA), 2010 (PDF, 2.95 MB)
  • Charter of Fundamental Social Rights in SADC, 2003 (PDF, 470 KB)
  • Charter of the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA), 1997 (PDF, 834 KB)

Tracking Regional Integration in SADC

Access to reliable and accurate information is essential to achieving regional integration and sustainable development in southern Africa. To this end, SADC has produced several publications, focusing specifically on energy, gender development, trafficking in persons, and managing economic transformation.

  • SADC Regional Economic Performance Report for 2020 (PDF)
  • Synthesis Report on the State of Food and Nutrition Security and Vulnerability in Southern Africa, 2019 (PDF)
  • SADC Statistical Yearbook 2015 (PDF, 2.87 MB)
  • SADC Energy Monitor 2016: Baseline Study of the SADC Energy Sector (PDF, 3.66 MB)
  • Efforts and Benefits of Mainstreaming Gender in the SADC Renewable Energy Sector, 2016 (PDF, 3.48 MB)
  • SADC Gender and Development Monitor 2016: Tracking Progress on Implementation of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development (PDF, 1.81 MB)
  • Trafficking in Persons in the SADC Region: A baseline report, 2016 (PDF, 13.62 MB)

The inaugural ‘SADC Success Stories’ publication was launched on the sidelines of the 35th SADC Summit held in Gaborone in August 2015. The publication presents some of the notable achievements of regional integration in various sectors such as trade, finance, tourism, energy, and political cooperation, among others.

  • SADC Success Stories | Volume 1, 2015 (PDF, 1.5 MB)

Country Tariff Phase-down Offers

This is the process by which tariffs are gradually reduced in order to achieve a certain threshold to liberalise substantially all trade in the region. Tariff phase-down offers are based on a variable geometry model, taking into account the asymmetrical level of development in member states.

  • Final SACU Offer to the SADC members states (PDF, 811 KB)
  • Final Differentiated offer of Mozambique to SADC (excl. RSA) (PDF, 371 KB)
  • Preliminary Differentiated offer of Malawi to SADC (excl. RSA) (PDF, 388 KB)
  • Preliminary Differentiated offer of Tanzania to SADC (excl. RSA) (PDF, 382 KB)
  • Preliminary Differentiated offer of Zimbabwe to SADC (excl. RSA) (PDF, 536 KB)
  • Final General Offer of Mozambique to RSA (PDF, 345 KB)
  • Preliminary General offer of Malawi to RSA (PDF, 374 KB)
  • Preliminary General offer of Tanzania to RSA (PDF, 358 KB)
  • Preliminary General Offer of Zimbabwe to RSA (PDF, 465 KB)

Status updates

Updates on the status of SADC Member States’ signatures, ratifications and accessions to the SADC Treaty, Protocols and other legal instruments.

  • Status of Protocols and Declarations in SADC - August 2012 (PDF, 344 KB)
  • SADC Treaty and Protocols, Status of Protocols in Force - August 2010 (PDF, 620 KB)
  • Status of Protocols not yet in Force - August 2010 (PDF, 95 KB)

National contact points

  • SADC National Contact Points - updated 23 May 2017 (PDF, 220 KB)


SADC-EU Economic Partnership Agreement

On 10 June 2016, the European Union and six countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland (BLNS), South Africa and Mozambique – signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the first of its kind between the EU and an African region pursuing the objective of economic integration. The SADC-EU EPA has been provisionally applied since 10 October 2016. Find out more.


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