COMMUNIQUE ISSUED AT THE END OF A TWO–DAY POLICY DIALOGUE ON REGIONAL ECONOMIC COMMUNITIES AND PEACE BUILDING IN AFRICA AT THE INSTITUTE FOR PEACE AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION (IPCR), ABUJA, ON 1 – 2 SEPTEMBER, 2016
The Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR) in collaboration with the Nordic African Institute (NAI), in partnership with the Social Science Research Council-Africa Peacebuilding Network (SSRC-APN) held a two-day policy dialogue on regional economic communities (RECs) and peace building in Africa with special focus on lessons from the experiences of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). The Policy Dialogue examined the roles and performances of the ECOWAS and IGAD in peace building, and also explored new ideas on how to strengthen the RECs. The Policy Dialogue consisted of the opening session, six plenary sessions, and a concluding session. The plenary sessions addressed the following sub-themes: RECs and legal frameworks, peace and security architectures, state actors, their roles and influence, status and roles of non-state actors, challenges of regional security as public goods, and research agenda and way forward.
- About eighty persons from ten countries participated in the Policy Dialogue. They included researchers, policy makers, development practitioners, diplomats and representatives of civil society organizations representing such organizations as the Nordic African Institute (NAI), Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Nigerian Military, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF) the West African Peacebuilding Network (WANEP), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Social Science Research Council-African Peacebuilding Network (SSRC-APN), Obafemi Awolowo University, University of Ilorin, Plateau State Government, National Defence College (NDC), Office of the National Security Adviser, Nigerian Airforce, Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos, Makarere University, University of Jos, University of Oxford, Folke Bernadotte Academy (FBA), Addis Ababa University, University of Zurich, Conflict Management Initiative (CMI), Juba University, College of Art and Social Science, Asmara, McPherson University, among others.
- In his remarks, the chairman of the opening session, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, noted that it was unfortunate that after four decades of its existence ECOWAS was not yet a community despite its laudable achievements in the promotion of regional peace and security in West Africa. He advocated for a balance between ECOWAS mandate on peace and security and its original purpose which is the promotion of regional economic integration. He also drew attention to the growing importance of the civil society in growth and development of RECs. The keynote address was delivered by Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Minister for Mines and Steel Development. In his speech, titled “Two and a Half Decades of ECOWAS’ Peace Interventions in West Africa: an Insider-Outsider Perspective”, Dr. Fayemi pointed out that unfortunately the success of ECOWAS has resulted in complacency. He advised the ECOWAS Commission to undertake institutional reform, improve collaboration with civil society, and deliberately promote shared leadership within the Community.
- Other speakers at the Opening Session included the Director General of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Professor Oshita O. Oshita, Ms. Iina Soiri, the Director, Nordic African Institute (NAI), the Ambassador of Finland in Nigeria HE Ms. Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury, and Dr, Cyril Obi, Programme Director of the Social Science Research Council-African Peacebuilding Network (SSRC-APN). Professor Oshita drew attention to the transnational context of peace and security challenges in Africa and stressed the need for functional cooperation and collaboration to tackle them. Dr Cyril Obi provided a panoramic overview of the rationale and expectations for the policy Dialogue, highlighting the global context of peace, security and development. He pointed out that globalization has intensified conflict trends and dynamics by heightening the mobility of conflict issues across border thereby making transnational intervention network expedient.
- A total of twenty-two papers were presented on the roles, performance and challenges of both ECOWAS and IGAD in peace building. The presentations generated informed discussions and recommendations. The following observations were made; that
- increased role of regional organizations in conflict management, peacekeeping and peacebuilding are important features of the emerging post-Cold War system
- the growing complexity of conflict dynamics and security challenges in the post-Cold war world require greater cooperation and coordination among states within regions.
- although the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) were originally established to promote economic integration, their mandates have been expanded to include broad peacebuilding and regional security functions;
- the intrinsic linkages between peacebuilding and development underscore the importance social and economic dimensions heightening and sustaining the conflict dynamics in both ECOWAS and IGAD regions;
- ECOWAS and IGAD have been involved in peacebuilding, recording varying levels of success and failure;
- member states of ECOWAS and IGAD are still challenged by structural crisis of statehood, and are threatened by poor economic situation, youth bulge and incidences of youth unemployment and underemployment;
- the influence, power and geostrategic interests of the pivotal states in both ECOWAS and IGAD have implications for peacebuilding interventions in their respective regions;
- the challenges of internal insecurity and economic recession confronting member-states of ECOWAS and IGAD have largely impeded their performance in ensuring regional peace and stability within their respective regions;
- the involvement of member states of ECOWAS and IGAD in peacebuilding interventions has high cost and risk on national economies and regional economic integration programmes;
- current peace building initiatives by ECOWAS and IGAD have emphasized military approach over other soft approaches to peacebuilding;
- the ongoing peace building efforts in the ECOWAS and IGAD regions are largely influenced and affected by external interests;
- poor state of financial resource due to non-commitment of member states to their financial obligations has made ECOWAS and IGAD to be more vulnerable and susceptible to manipulation by external forces, which in turn affects the autonomy and performance of the two bodies; and
- research and documentation of the experiences of African RECs in peace building has not received adequate attention which in turn have implications for lessons learned and benefits for future planning, policy formulation and implementation.
- At the end of the two-day Policy Dialogue, participants recommended that;
- There is need for the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) to periodically review their guiding principles to address new realities and challenges at global and regional levels in order to be able to effectively promote economic integration and as well address structural crisis of statehood and other underlying causes of violent conflicts in their respective regions;
- ECOWAS and IGAD should develop legal and institutional frameworks for inclusive partnership and network for sustainable peacebuilding interventions in their respective regions;
- Peace building initiatives by ECOWAS and IGAD should include deliberate policies and programmes that address the problems of youth unemployment and underemployment;
- ECOWAS and IGAD should work towards effective harmonization of their mandates and programmes on regional economic integration and peacebuilding for sustainable development;
- Member states of ECOWAS and IGAD should demonstrate more commitment to the development of the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as well as active involvement in ensuring regional peace and security through prompt attention to their financial obligations and compliance with treaty provisions, protocols and resolutions;
- ECOWAS and IGAD should insist on the application of broad and integrative approach to peacebuilding before, during and after conflicts;
- ECOWAS and IGAD should accord research and documentation more recognition and as well recognize the link between research and policy formulation and implementation;
- ECOWAS and IGAD should work towards effective incorporation of the early warning signals into their peace building programmes;
- ECOWAS and IGAD should reinvigorate efforts towards effective partnership with credible civil society organization in the areas of peacebuilding and development;
- ECOWAS and IGAD should ensure adequate gender mainstreaming in all their peace building programmes and activities; and
- Organizers should involve other relevant governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental bodies in the dissemination of the outcomes and proceedings of the Policy Dialogue.
- Participants commended the organizers of the Policy Dialogue – Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution (IPCR), Nordic African Institute (NAI) and the Social Science Research Council-African Peacebuilding Network (SSRC-APN) for the successful conduct of the two-day Dialogue.
Adopted this 2nd Day of September, 2016
Prof. Oshita O. Oshita Ms. Iina Soiri
Director General, Director
Institute for Peace& Conflict Resolution (IPCR) Nordic African Institute (NAI)
Abuja, Nigeria Uppsala, Sweden
Dr. Cyril Obi
Social Science Research Council-African Peacebuilding Network
New York, USA
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