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ECOWAS, Civil Society meet on strengthening regional capacities for conflict prevention in West Africa and the Sahel

Focal Persons of the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF) began a two-day consultative meeting with Civil Society Organizations (SCOs) on modalities to strengthen regional capacities for conflict prevention in West Africa and the Sahel.

At the opening of the meeting in Abuja, on the 12th of July, 2021, the ECOWAS Commission’s Director, Political Affairs Dr. Aderemi Ajibewa stated that the forum’s objectives are geared towards the creation of a more politically stable and economically integrated region, mindful of the impacts of democratic reversals on peace and security processes alongside its implications for the formulation and operationalization of the new generation ECPF Plans of Action.

Represented by Dr. Onyinye Onwuka, Head, Mediation and Coordination of Regional Political Affairs, participants who were joined remotely by officials of ECOWAS institutions, diplomats, stakeholders, and partners, were charged to work out a more sustained partnership framework between CSOs, ECOWAS, and UN, to advance in-country implementation of conflict prevention, including the promotion of inclusive peace, constitutional and electoral processes.

Stressing that the more agreeable way to address the roots causes of conflict is set out by the ECPF, he, however, noted that the Framework should be a guide to actions that must be constantly adapted to the changing security dynamics while incrementally promoting and consolidating peace and security, development, and human rights in West Africa.

“We believe that by raising this platform for exchange between CSO representatives and ECPF focal points, the implementation of the ECPF through a more active, systematic and sustainable partnership, is better served” He added.

For Dr Chukwuemeka Eze of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), the realization that several countries still struggle with partisan security forces, judicial partiality, and dependent electoral Commission including the increased cases of identity, ethnicity and religiosity, calls for a collective assessment of roles in strengthening the integrity of democracies, elections and political transitions in fulfilment of a broader agenda of sustainable development where no one is left behind. 

The representative of the Director, Political Affairs, United Nations Regional Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Dr. James Aji disclosed the readiness of the UNOWAS to partner with Civil society and all stakeholders by enhancing regional and sub-regional partnerships to address cross-border and cross-cutting threats to peace and security in West Africa and the Sahel.

The Director, West African Division, United Nations Departments of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs and Peace Operations Mr. Abdel-Fatau Musa, in his guiding intervention, averred that there is a need to urgently examine rising unemployment in the region, stressing that challenges that stare the civil society at the face would not be effectively addressed if governance is weak. He called for the implementation of the numerous ECOWAS frameworks while ensuring that traction is gained by the already developed plans of action.

The meeting featured presentations on democracy and security challenges as well as gaps and lessons learned in the operationalization of ECPF plans of action in Member states, using case examples. Participants will also be looking at the outcome of the earlier Accra consultations on the engagement of civil society as partners in preventing and responding to political and electoral conflicts as well as findings of the ECPF Plans of Action evaluation.

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The set of outcomes emanating from the meeting is also expected to inform broader policy discussions on strengthening civil society’s meaningful participation in conflict prevention, inclusive peace, and political processes in West Africa and the Sahel.

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