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Research Report


Copyright Date: Oct. 31, 2006
Pages: 50
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 11-14)

    The seminar focused on the progress of ECOWAS’ evolving security architecture, as outlined in the 1999 ECOWAS Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security (commonly referred to as “the Mechanism”) and the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, which was adopted in 2001.

    The Accra seminar sought to assess the evolution of the ECOWAS Mechanism in the past seven years and to provide concrete policy advice on how best to support its institutions. The meeting took place at a time when ECOWAS, as an organisation, is in the process of institutional transformation, with the secretariat having...

  2. (pp. 15-16)

    First, a link was established between internal conflicts, caused in large measure by factors such as poor governance, inequitable distribution of resources and marginalisation, on the one hand, and inadequate development efforts on the other.11 Second, a new generation of internal conflicts were “regionalised”, meaning that they were no longer confined to the territorial boundaries of individual states.12 For ECOWAS, this meant that the mechanisms already in place to defend national sovereignty and protect member states from external aggression were grossly inadequate to meet the new challenges. Given the peacekeeping lessons from Liberia and Sierra Leone in the 1990s, the...

  3. (pp. 17-18)

    The Council of Elders consists of 15 eminent personalities – one from each member state of the Community – including women, traditional, religious, and political leaders. The current composition of the Council is 13 men and two women.16 The Council was officially inaugurated in March 2004 in Ghana by the then Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority, Ghanaian President John Agyekum Kufuor.

    The Council of Elders has been one of the instruments used by the ECOWAS secretariat and the Authority of Heads of State to help defuse potential conflicts in West Africa. For example, Council member General Abdulsalaam Abubakar, the former...

  4. (pp. 19-22)

    Moreover, by 2003, the human and financial costs of intra-state conflicts had become evident in their regional implications. In the May 2003 Declaration on a Sub-regional Approach to Peace and Security, ECOWAS leaders acknowledged that issues such as the use of child soldiers; uncontrolled armed militias and mercenaries; the movement of refugees; and coup d’états, called for the operationalisation of the ECOWAS earlywarning mechanism.22

    The core of the organisation’s earlywarning system is ECOWAS’ Observation and Monitoring Centre, which consists of the departments of Operations, Peacekeeping, and Humanitarian Affairs (DOPHA); and Political Affairs and Security (DPAS). The first department aims to...

  5. (pp. 23-24)

    In 2005, eight of the 17 UN peacekeeping missions in the world were in Africa (including in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Côte d’Ivoire), and nearly 90 percent of its personnel were deployed on the continent.29 The Ghanaian former UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, set up a High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change, which submitted its report in December 2004.

    In response to this report, Annan submitted his own report, In Larger Freedom, to the General Assembly in March 2005. Both reports called on donors to devise a 10-year capacity-building plan with the AU and advocated UN financial support for Africa’s...

  6. (pp. 25-26)

    The General Assembly Resolution establishing the Commission emphasises that “the Commission shall where appropriate, work in close consultation with regional and sub-regional organisations to ensure their involvement in peacebuilding processes in accordance with Chapter VIII of the [UN] Charter”.38 The details of this collaboration and co-operation are yet to be agreed upon. The Commission is backed by a Peacebuilding Support Office and “a multi-year standing Peacebuilding Fund” which marks a new level of strategic commitment to enhancing and sustaining peace after conflict.39 The core work of the Commission will be its country-specific activities. At the national level, a Peacebuilding Support...

  7. (pp. 27-29)

    In addition to its commitment to democratic governance, ECOWAS is also the lead sub-regional implementer of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) of 2001. Seven countries in West Africa – Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone – have acceded to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) process under NEPAD. Ghana was one of the first African countries to be reviewed in 2004, and the report from this review has been finalised.45 The leaders of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Senegal, Abdoulaye Wade (who withdrew in March 2007), were also founding members of the NEPAD implementation committee....

  8. (pp. 30-32)

    Africa’s human security frameworks have thus been defined, revised and articulated by a number of state as well as civil society actors within this new paradigm. The establishment of new security mechanisms and the advent of new actors coincide with an era in which three major diseases – HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis – are wreaking havoc in societies across sub-Saharan Africa. HIV/AIDS was not mentioned in ECOWAS’ security protocol of 1999. With plans to establish an ECOWAS brigade for an African Standby Force by 2010, it is important that sub-regional leaders devote sufficient attention to this important issue. While significant...

  9. (pp. 33-33)

    The establishment by ECOWAS of institutions to carry out mediation, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding will depend for their success on their ability to increase capacity; establish rapid-reaction multifunctional peacekeeping forces; and work effectively with West African civil society actors, the AU and the UN.

    However, as ECOWAS’ security architecture evolves, the organisation will continue to be confronted with conflict management challenges that span the areas of governance (elections and democratic transitions); development (gender inequality and HIV/AIDS); as well as security sector reform and post-conflict peacebuilding. Meeting these challenges effectively could largely determine whether West Africa is at peace or at war...