ABUJA, Nigeria, May 23, 2019,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/-The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is marking a decade of the operationalisation of the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF).
Addressing participants at the opening of the anniversary brainstorming session, President Jean-Claude Kassi Brou stated that the Commission attaches importance to the task of the work that is cut out for the ECPF, emphasising that employing conflict prevention as one of the means of entrenching peace and security is highly valued.
The President noted that within the decade of its adoption, the ECPF has provided direction for conceptualizing, developing, implementing and evaluating conflict prevention strategies, based on these fundamental principles of good governance, political pluralism, democratisation, and human rights, balanced equitable distribution of resources, free and fair and transparent elections, unconstitutional access to power as well as mobilizing the necessary resources to build capacities for the prevention of violent conflicts, resolving disputes and sustaining peace in West Africa.
The theme of the anniversary is: Assessing 10 years of conflict Prevention in the ECOWAS Region: “Towards Enhanced Structural Interventions and Sustainable Peace”. Referencing this, President Brou who was supported by Vice President Madam Finda Koroma stated that as the tempo of peacebuilding activities are being given a free rein, stakeholders must not overlook the scourge of the escalating trade in drugs as well as that of the ever-increasing rise in the manufacture and trade in small arms and weapons.
Citing several instruments raised by the ECOWAS Commission to facilitate conflict prevention including the establishment of the Mediation Facilitation Division he stressed that “every effort must be made to do even more to avail to the peoples of the Region, the social facilities like health and education as well as economic opportunities which provide them, including the youth and women, with sustainable livelihoods, thus reducing the risk of the recruitment of the youth in particular into terrorism”
The President also suggested a consideration of traditional methods of conflict prevention which were widely prevalent in our pre-colonial societies, such as dialogue, conciliation, and the use of elders and sages as counsellors, “a far cry from imported concepts of adjudication as to who is wholly right or wholly wrong”.
Making far-reaching remarks, the special representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas noted that through the work of the ECPF there exists today “a better understanding of the regional ecosystem in which we operate”
Chambas, who is a former President of the ECOWAS Commission, however urged participants to be mindful of the African proverb which says, ‘no matter how full the river is, it still wants to grow’ pointing to the fact that even with the successes recorded so far, opportunities for improvement as ECPF projects into the next decade of conflict prevention should be kept in view.
“The human security philosophy of the ECPF and its emphasis on inclusion and accountability are important reminders that ECOWAS is indeed a community of sates, as well as a community of peoples” Dr. Chambas added.
Importantly, while laying bare his six key messages, he called among others, for a celebration of the current alignment between ECOWAS and the United Nations on the strategic priority and approach while noting that “the comprehensiveness of the ECPF is indeed a call and a reminder of the opportunity and importance of a multiplicity of partnerships at various concentric levels and among a multiplicity of actors”.
Also welcoming participants, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, General Francis Behanzin (Rtd) held that it has become evident “that in order to achieve a lasting peace, we must ‘silence the guns’ with greater emphasis on conflict prevention, with practical actions aimed at addressing the causes of conflict”.
In his goodwill message, the Chair of the ECOWAS Permanent Representatives Committee, Ambassador Babatunde Nurudeen said the numerous security challenges confronting the sub-region calls for the strengthening of human security architecture to achieve the primary aim of economic integration and development in West Africa.
The Head of Programme, Deutsche Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Mr. Ludwig Kirchner traced the support of the German Cooperation agency’s support for the ECPF to 2005, noting that the partnership has continued, he endorsed the resolve to focus on conflict prevention by addressing the root causes of conflict.
The Danish Ambassador to Nigeria Mr. Jesper Kamp and the Deputy Head of Mission of the Embassy of Switzerland in Nigeria Mrs Anne Beatrice expressed the unflinching desire to continue with existing collaboration with ECOWAS in creating the kind of West Africa.
Some of the burning issues to be addressed by participants during the conference, are good practices and lessons learnt from structural prevention, reflection on ECOWAS support to Member States in strengthening good governance and promoting the culture of peace as well as shared experiences from regional and national conflict prevention approaches, among others.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission.