The 32nd Ordinary Meeting of ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council is underway in Accra with a call on Member States to ensure collective efforts in curbing terrorism, tension and conflicts in the region.
Opening the session, Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Madam Hannah Serwah Tetteh , said” maintaining peace and security in our region is a collective task and that the earlier we cooperate with each other in all matters of security, particularly in the intelligence and information gathering arena, the better it would be for us all”.
She bemoaned that conflicts and instability have negative effects on the socio-economic and political development of countries adding that political instability breeds economic disruptions, collapsed public infrastructures, pervasive poverty and poor life expectancy.
She further mentioned that political instability leads to the attrition of state governing institutions, proliferation of small arms and light weapons, hopelessness, human right abuses, human and drug trafficking amongst others.
Madam Hannah Tetteh expressed worry at recent security situations in northern Mali and Boko Haram’s activities in Nigeria , she said are threatening to derail the democratic gains in those countries. These she added, calls for a re-look at the West African security architecture.
” we need to place equal, if not more, emphasis on efforts at identifying threats to regional and national peace and security and nipping them in the bud” she urged.
To this end, she commended the ECOWAS Commission, particularly the Early Warning Directorates efforts to provide guidance for the establishment and operationalisation of Early Warning and Early Response Systems in Member States.
The Minister also entreated the Mediation and Security Council, to tae critical look at the draft policy framework for the establishment of the National Early Warning Mechanisms [NEWMs] to be presented at the gathering, in order to make informed recommendations to the West African Heads of States and Government who are scheduled to convey in Accra on 10th and 11th July 2014.
Madam Hannah Tetteh, who doubles as the Chairperson for the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council, further urged the West African security services to take advantage of the information to be provided by the National Early Warning and Response Systems and to find solutions to threats that could lead to disastrous consequences.
In his opening remarks, the Presdent of the ECOWAS Commission, H.E. Kadre Desire Ouedraogo, explained that the NEWMs emanated from the desire to prevent structural and operational causes of conflicts in Member States through the proactive actions of national institutions, working in close concert with the civil society.
Against this background, He said, the ECOWAS Commission commissioned a pilot study in 2011 on the Mechanisms in Niger, Ghana and Nigeria to examine the strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities and threats of existing mechanisms in order to inform policy recommendations towards instituting a harmonized and coordinated national approach to the early warning and response mechanisms with linkages with regional mechanisms.
The ECOWAS Commission President pledged the Commission’s commitment to support Member States in addressing recent security challenges in the region, especially in relations to the activities of terrorist and pirates.
He lauded the commitment shown by Member States in ensuring peace and stability in West Africa which has contributed significantly to the restoration of democracy in the region.
H .E. Ouedaogo expressed his appreciation to the government and people of Ghana for the hosting and warm reception accorded them.
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