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Research Report

West Africa:: Governance and Security in a Changing Region

Abdel-Fatau Musah
Copyright Date: Feb. 1, 2009
Pages: 32

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. None)
  2. (pp. None)
  3. (pp. i-ii)

    IPI is pleased to introduce a new series of working papers on regional capacities to respond to security challenges in Africa. The broad range of United Nations, African Union, and subregional peacekeeping, peacemaking, and peacebuilding initiatives in Africa underscore a new sense of multilayered partnership in the search for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in Africa. As the total number of conflicts on the continent has been significantly reduced in the past decade, there is widespread recognition of the opportunities for a more stable and peaceful future for Africa. But there is also a profound awareness of the fragility of...

  4. (pp. 1-1)

    This paper addresses the challenges to human and regional security in the territory covered by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).¹ It examines causal factors and their effects, profiles the actors shaping the security environment, and describes the nature and impacts of their interventions. Finally, it projects possible future scenarios based on the current security dynamics. The paper examines the geopolitical environment of West Africa, with emphasis on the strategic importance of the region and the vulnerabilities emanating from its location. Within this context, it discusses the roles of local, regional, and international actors in the evolving regional...

  5. (pp. 1-4)

    West Africa’s complex security challenges are a function of three broad factors. The first set incorporates the region’s natural resource endowments, the vulnerabilities inherent in its geographical location, and environmental and demographic factors. The second source of insecurity relates to internal and international governance processes. Finally, regional and external geopolitics exert distinct pressures on the region’s security architecture.

    The West Africa region, 4.7 million square kilometers in area, is more than twice the size of Western Europe. Its 6,000 kilometer coastal arc, which stretches from the upper reaches of Angola in south-west Africa to the lower reaches of Western Sahara...

  6. (pp. 4-14)

    There is no gainsaying that internal politics, regional power-plays, and bad governance nurture the acute insecurity in West Africa. Richly endowed with human and material resources, the region remains one of the most impoverished in the world for reasons related mainly to a dearth of leadership and poor political and resource governance capacity.14 Also, the notion of “territorial integrity,” so jealously guarded by member states, sounds hollow when tested against the fact that all the countries in the region are stuck in a stage of incomplete statemaking, with national borders and internal enclaves constantly under contestation from within and without....

  7. (pp. 14-19)

    The ability to project legitimate power, preserve territorial integrity, and assure the welfare of the people is the cornerstone of any sovereign state, and the UN rightly places primary responsibility for peace and security with member states. In the developing world of incomplete state formation, weak institutions, and competing demands between regime and human security, the state has often failed in this cardinal responsibility. Collective responsibility by diverse actors has often been called upon either to complement national efforts or to defend and promote human and regional security. In this regard civil society and humanitarian agencies, as well as regional...

  8. (pp. 19-20)

    Predicting the future of human and regional security in West Africa is fraught with risks. Impressed by the relative progress that the region has made in the areas of economic growth, democracy, and human rights, local and international observers are urging countries to stay the course. More cautious critics applaud the advances but urge greater efforts to consolidate the gains. The pessimists are not convinced about the security situation and predict a new cycle of doom and gloom. The realistic outlook lies somewhere between these prognoses.

    There is no denying the fact that West Africa has made steady progress in...

  9. (pp. 20-22)

    West Africa faces daunting security challenges and, against the backdrop of the region’s weak internal capacities and its peripheral status in the global market, the prognosis for the state of human and regional security over the next two decades appears grim. However, through properly coordinated and calibrated measures aimed at incrementally strengthening democratic institutions, expanding infrastructure, and creatively transforming the myriad of other negative indicators enumerated in this paper, the security environment could witness significant improvement in the coming years.

    Success in these endeavors will be predicated on the effective division of labor and greater coordination, cooperation, and sensitivity among...

  10. (pp. 23-25)
  11. (pp. 26-26)