ECOWAS calls for new strategies to confront threats to peace in West Africa
Dr Toga Gayewea McINTOSH, Vice President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has advocated more innovative and appropriate strategies to tackle new emerging security threats and challenges in the sub region.
He said it was imperative for ECOWAS member states to achieve the region’s security and development goals within “the aspirations of creating an ECOWAS of people by the year 2020”.
Dr. McINTOSH made the call at the opening session of the General Assembly of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) on Tuesday in Accra.
The General Assembly meeting was on the theme: “Strengthening the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework through National Architectures for Early Warning and Early Response”.
He said the meeting was timely since it related to issues concerning regional peace and security, which were discussed at the just ended ECOWAS Summit where major decisions towards moving the process forward were made.
Dr McINTOSH indicated that conflicts and crisis within the region existed since 1980s and 1990s hence the need for Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS to adopt the protocol establishing a mechanism for conflict prevention, peace keeping and security.
Dr McINTOSH noted the collective framework was supplemented by the 2001 protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and later by the 2008 ECOWAS conflict prevention framework.
He said the framework provided a comprehensive regional approach to dealing with issues relating to the entire conflict cycle thus prevention, management, resolution and peace building.
Dr McINTOSH said WANEP has being a strong partner of ECOWAS in developing and implementing the early warning system within the context of the framework.
He explained that there were six human security indicators which were regularly monitored by WANEP and Member States Focal Points, to isolate changes that could disturb the peace and security of members.
Dr McINTOSH mentioned that new and emerging threats to regional peace and security were escalating as the region moves towards Vision 2020, which were largely religious fundamentalism, terrorism, illicit drug and human trafficking, piracy and arms proliferation that were detrimental to the region’s peace and security.
He said the threats transcends borders by nature and pumps up tensions between governed populations and their governing authorities.
Dr McINTOSH commended WANEP for designing and developing national early warning system, that has added value to the strategy, which encouraged civil society organizations to be actively involved in the national monitoring of peace and conflict indicators to allow early conflicts preventive actions.
Madam Hannah Tetteh, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, indicated that effective engagement of people from the grassroots would help achieve the objective of the early warning system.
She said the platform to create a framework of ECOWAS of people within the sub-region would enhance and integrate member states properly towards the creation of a common zone for all in the sub-region.
Madam Tetteh said government was committed to working with ECOWAS and other stakeholders in their activities and partners of WANEP and expressed the hope that effective framework would be deliberated upon to translate the different member states.