As part of its efforts to confront the threats to peace and security in a more decisive manner, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has resolved to undertake a more definitive approach towards conflict prevention in the sub-region, following a four-day international experts meeting on the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework.
Organized by ECOWAS, the meeting was aimed at mapping out advances, reversals and challenges in conflict prevention in the sub-region, as well as identifying priority areas for possible intervention.
The international experts meeting on the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework document, which is due to be presented to member states for their appreciation and eventual adoption, brought together experts from the sub-region and beyond.
The conflict prevention framework document is designed to create space and the right environment within the ECOWAS system, member states and the sub-region so as to promote and consolidate security.
Col. Mahamane Toure, ECOWAS Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, noted that the framework document should be able to facilitate the emergence of effective collaboration on the ground between the decentralised ECOWAS structures and community action, to intervene in internal hotspots such as the Niger delta, Cassamance, northern Niger and northern Ghana, to defuse tensions, ensure social justice and promote reconciliation. He added that the evolving conflict dynamics in the sub-region convinced ECOWAS leaders to adopt the 1999 Protocol on the mechanism for conflict prevention, resolution, management and security as a comprehensive framework for confronting the new threats to peace and security on a more permanent basis.
To enhance capacity and facilitate implementation, Col. Toure stressed the need to generate greater awareness of community initiatives among the broader population, designate clear roles and responsibilities to critical regional stakeholders and mobilise the necessary resources.
“We could have achieved more spectacular results if the community, in its interventions, had carried along its member states and citizens in a more structured and systematic manner,” he said.
For his part, former Gambian leader Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, who served as the Chairperson of the meeting, said that it is imperative that the sub-region consolidated peace by fashioning permanent mechanisms for the peaceful management of differences and preventing tensions from degenerating into open and violent conflicts.
He added that this would further develop ECOWAS’ strategic framework for conflict prevention and erect permanent people-oriented structures for the consolidation of democracy, peace and security in the sub-region.