Ecowas meets on conflict, peace-building

Tuesday, July 1, 2008
A four-day Zonal Strategic Planning Meeting on Conflict Prevention and Peace-bulding, organised by the Ecowas Commission, kicked-off yesterday, at the Jerma Beach Hotel, Kololi.

The meeting seeks to strategise and plan the bottom-up approach to conflict prevention and peace-building. It was also designed to reflect and take practical steps towards consolidating human security in West Africa.

The meeting came barely a year after the first major consultative meeting on the draft Ecowas Conflict Prevention Framework, which took place in Banjul.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, Dr Abdel Fatah Musah, conflict prevention adviser to the Ecowas President, said the 2007 draft Ecowas Conflict Prevention Framework serves as a tool to facilitate cooperation between Ecowas institutions and organs, member states, civil society and external partners. In this collaboration, he continued, challenges of the intermediate and root causes of human insecurity and conflicts in the sub-region would be addressed.

"In January, this year, Ecowas member states adopted the conflict prevention framework at their summit in Ouagadougou. Over the years, Ecowas has amply demonstrated its status as a continental trailblazer in interventions to stop violent conflicts and to build peace. The Gambia is an example to all as a willing troop contributor in this regard, whether in the sub-region or beyond," he said.

According to Dr Musah, containment of conflict is not enough, as the sub-regional body is often constrained in its actions in circumstances of so-called "local conflicts".

“Several local conflicts have been festering in the region, while new ones are emerging. They [the people] need concrete solidarity and support in their efforts. We are gathered here to further strengthen synergy between member states, civil society and Ecowas resources on the ground, in order to accompany and complement the tireless efforts of our member states to resolve lingering local conflicts such as in Casamance, the Yenga dispute, the Niger Delta, northern Ghana, Mali and Niger,” he emphasised.

In her keynote address, Nafi Barry, the deputy permanent secretary at the Department of State for Trade, Industry and Employment, who delivered a statement on behalf of SoS Abdou Colley, said Ecowas member-states cannot achieve their objectives without collective collaboration with key stakeholders.

"Sustainable peace can only be forged, when the people unite, as it is a prerequisite to good governance and development,” Ms Barry noted.

Speaking earlier, Afi Yakubu of Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FSDA), expressed gratitude to the Ecowas Commission for its foresight and leadership, which has created the necessary space for more engagement.

"Across the West African sub-region today, we have come to realise that our governments need the input of civil society to grow in as much as civil society can play complementary roles. A strong civil society reflects a strong government and the opposite is true. That is why we place a great premium on this Ecowas Zonal Strategic meeting on conflict prevention and peace-building," she said..

Other speakers at the ceremony included Moussa Dabal, zonal bureau head and Carlos Salsamendi, the Cuban ambassador to The Gambia. The meeting is being attended by the 16 representatives from Ecowas member countries.

Author: by Sheriff Janko