ECOWAS Should Overhaul Security Architecture – Experts

Experts on Security and Conflict Management have called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission to overhaul and reposition its anticipatory mechanisms to respond to complex emergencies.

The experts said the decision-making and response mechanisms which underpin the ECOWAS Peace and Security architecture should be made more effective and rapid to be able to respond to emergencies.

These were contained in a communiqué issued at Akosombo after a three-day review workshop on ECOWAS initiative and responses to the multi-dimensional crises in Mali.

The communiqué read by Professor Abdoullah Cisse, a Security Expert, called on ECOWAS to evaluate its legal instruments, frameworks, processes, organs and mechanisms against the backdrop of the Mali experience.

The Experts identified the need for ECOWAS to ensure that resources were ready, mobile, rapid and effective for the ECOWAS standby force to respond promptly to some of the complex crises in the region.

They charged ECOWAS and member states to employ staggered and calibrated development and governance policies towards eliminating the South-North inequality and opportunity gap as a means of forging political and social harmony.

The security experts also identified the need for a definite resolution of the “Tuareg Question” through enhanced and committed decentralization, since that held the key to lasting peace in Mali.

They noted that ECOWAS needed to adopt a more proactive stance towards democracy and good governance, which were deficits even in peaceful member states.

“There was need for ECOWAS to review its protocols to enhance super-nationality as well as pursue a more focused engagement with national stakeholders, especially Civil Society Organizations (CSOs).

They further stated that the absence of a clear entry and exit strategy on Mali and the marginalization of the Commission from the mediation process was a cause for concern.

They maintained that the absence of effective communication channels between the hierarchies of the Commissions of ECOWAS and the African Union (AU), as well as the absence of effective diplomatic presence at the United Nations (UN), affected the Commission’s ability to lobby the international community successfully.

The Security Experts said poor coordination among the multiple missions deployed in Mali and the practice of territoriality at mission headquarters posed problems to the whole exercise.

They, however, applauded ECOWAS for its unparalleled mobilization of international consensus with the AU through the United Nation Security Council (UNSC), as well as the support and follow up groups.

“The effort by the regional contact group on Mali to mobilize all stakeholders including political, civil society, religious and community groups around the transition needs to be commended,” the Experts noted.

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