The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) says peace and security is a collaborative responsibility of all citizens therefore tasks journalists to domesticate its protocols in their respective countries as a show of ownership in the region.
At the opening of the three-day workshop for journalists from across ECOWAS member states, the Commission encouraged journalists to remind and ensure that member states are engaged in the domestication of the Protocols that have been signed.
Some of the protocols include the 2001 Supplementary Protocol on Democracy, 2006 Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, 2008 Conflict Prevention Framework amongst others.
Addressing journalists from the 16 counties within the Community at a three-day meeting which started on Monday June 25, 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria at the headquarters of the ECOWAS Commission, Stefania Marrone, an EU representative said ECOWAS can boast of taking the lead in sustaining peace through the monitoring and negotiations of successful conduct of elections regionally yet the region still suffers threats.
Making her points on behalf of the head of operation of EU delegations to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms. Marrone outlined some of the threats as radicalization leading to terrorism, farmer-herds conflicts, instability and insurgency, climate change, gender disparity, insecurity in the maritime sector, piracy, trafficking as well as migration amongst others.
Madam Marrone said, in order to curb these menaces, the root causes must be addressed as well as other associated threats to peace and that will require considerable resources and to that end, solidarity among international partners is vital.
She disclosed that some 27 million euros is being pumped in through a Peace, Security and Stability Project over the periods of 2016-2019 pointing out that the underlying reason for the EU support to ECOWAS remains urgent with its satisfactory progress in enhancing democracy in West Africa.
The EU representative then urged the media to build solidarity with international partners to promote peace and security in the region. Making presentation on behalf of the communication directorate of ECOWAS, Arthur Obayowana, encouraged journalists to engage in peace reporting and added that journalists being the social conscience of the society cannot be overlooked; as they need to assume their social responsibility to keep the peace in the region.
He said journalists should not take peace for granted reminding them that the establishment of durable peace and the prevention of the recurrence of conflict lie in the hands of journalists noting, |”Resist the temptation of being the first to break the news because being the first does not always mean that you are saying the truth” Mr. Obayowana told journalists.
He emphasized that good journalism involves selections and not compression denoting it is that not everything a journalist sees that should be reported thereby encouraging them to use their human judgments in the line of their duties; a demonstration that they are sensible in their gatekeeping roles.
Journalists were also encouraged by Dr. Remi Ajibewa, Director of Political Affairs, ECOWAS, to report on ‘ECOWAS Conflict Response Mechanism,’ which he says aimed at making member states understand what ECOWAS does in mediating conflicts, supporting credible election, and deepening democratic governance.
Dr. Ajibewa further mentioned how journalists could report on early warning signs of conflict using ECOWAS conflict tracking mechanism which includes three early warning pillars which are the early warning system Analysis, System Management and Warning and Communication using the alert-response method to fill the gap for information sharing.
Meanwhile, being cognizant that member States of ECOWAS have a vast maritime space that is ungoverned; an issue highlighted was how journalists can create awareness around how ECOWAS member states could develop a comprehensive maritime strategy to guide the territorial maritime space, among other issues.