Addressing the regional character of conflicts in west africa


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Addressing the regional character of conflicts in west africa

  1. 1. ECOWAS BOOK Beyond the Rhetoric of Regionalism: ECOWAS and the Challenge of Deepening Institutional Change in West AfricaIntroductionChapter One: Deepening Regionalism in a Global EnvironmentChapter Two: The Challenge of Institutional Reform in ECOWASChapter Three: The Security ChallengeChapter Four: The Governance ChallengeChapter Five: The Developmental ChallengeChapter Six: An Integrated Agenda for Security & Economy in West AfricaConclusion 1
  2. 2. Addressing the Regional Character of Conflicts in West Africa: Towards a Framework of Human Security in a Region in Transition1 By J. ’Kayode Fayemi2IntroductionSince the end of the cold war, the desirability of shifting from a state- and elite focusedview of security to one that places regions and individuals at the centre of the securityequation has gained wide acceptance in Africa, and indeed in many parts of the world.While protecting the state and its citizens from external aggression remains high on theagenda, the most serious threats facing countries on the African continent at thebeginning of the 21st century tend to be those that either derive from internal causes orare trans-national and collective in nature. This broader conception that articulatessecurity in a manner that the individual, the group as well as the state may relate to itsfundamental objectives of promoting and ensuring the right to life and livelihood in anuncertain world underscores the importance of cooperative security arrangement inAfrica. Yet, given the popularity of the trend in international security, cooperativesecurity deserves a more nuanced analysis, one that brings out regional dimensions andcommon characteristics in order for it to be relevant to the security concerns of theAfrican continent.This presentation attempts to address the regional dimension of conflicts in West Africa,looking at nature of conflict in the sub-region, the record of Africa in the post cold wardecade, the context of regional cooperation, the challenges to regional securityarrangements, the prospects of cooperative security in West Africa and suggesting someideas for a research agenda on regionalism in the context of conflict and globalisation.Understanding the Nature & Character of Conflict in West AfricaWest Africa’s story has been one of reversal, stasis as well as progress in the last decade.The sub-region has witnessed significant changes during this period. Peaceful alternationof power in Benin, Senegal, Mali, Ghana, and Cape Verde, the emergence ofconstitutional governments in Sierra Leone, Niger, and the Gambia and the formal exitof the military from the political affairs of the region’s giant, Nigeria provide justificationfor some cautious optimism.In spite of the progress made on the civil and political rights front though, West Africaremains one of the poorest regions in the world and one of the most susceptible to crisisand violent conflict, placing a huge question mark on the sustainability of the region’selectoral democracies. With the re-ignition of conflict in Liberia, continued instability inCote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone emerging from a decade of civil war with great uncertainty,Guinea Bissau and Guinea hovering between coup d’etats and cold peace, not to mentionlarge numbers of refugees and internally displaced population creating a major1 Being paper prepared for presentation at the Conference on Governance and Insecurity in WestAfrica, at the Program of African Studies, Northwestern University, Evanston, Chicago, USA,November 13 – 15, 2003. Please do not quote without the author’s permission.2 Director, Centre for Democracy & Development (Abuja & Lagos, Nigeria) 2
  3. 3. humanitarian emergency in West Africa, it is clear that pro-forma democracies representedby ‘free and fair’ elections will not be enough and that the most paramount tasks facingthe region now include finding sustainable solutions to the current violent conflicts in theGreater Mano River Basin, stemming the ignition of potential conflicts by addressingfundamental political, social and economic root causes of the regional crisis.For example, in analysing the human security situation in West Africa, at least five roughthematic categories and four geographic parameters can be identified, ranging fromprogress to stasis, and in a few cases reversal, and requiring different responses fromdevelopment partners. It is possible to talk of: 1) States in the process of consolidating their democracy – Benin, Ghana, Mali, Senegal; 2) States in various stages of transitions to democracy – Cape Verde, Nigeria, Niger, Gambia, Burkina Faso; 3) States in conflict or emerging out of conflict – Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone; 4) States in relapse or remilitarisation – Guinea, Guinea Bissau 5) Authoritarian states – Togo & MauritaniaIn geographic terms, the four sub-systems can be roughly categorised as: • The Sahelian sub-system (land-locked states) – Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso & Mauritania (left ECOWAS in 2001) • The Coastal sub-system – Nigeria, Ghana, Togo & Benin • The Sene-Gambian sub-system – Senegal, Gambia, Cape Verde & Guinea Bissau; and, • The Greater Mano River sub-system – Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire.Without an exception, all the states continue to face various challenges to their humansecurity situation, and some of the central challenges they face include: poverty, weakpolitical and economic governance, education, youth crisis, small arms proliferation andtrafficking, manipulation of religion, citizenship and identity issues, gender,environmental degradation, migration, health crisis, especially malaria, tuberculosis andHIV/Aids pandemic.To understand the causes and nature of violent conflicts in West Africa therefore, it isimportant therefore to trace the historic roots and contemporary trajectories in a morenuanced manner that acknowledges a mixture of factors, rather than dwelling onsimplistic interpretation of causes based on notions of ‘greed’, ‘grievance’, ‘poverty’, or‘ethnicity’. The incontrovertible evidence is that West Africa’s conflicts share a commonbackdrop of economic stagnation and faltering democratic rule that undermined statecapacity and legitimacy in the 1980s. Yet each conflict has followed its own trajectoryshaped by political and policy choices partly made by the ruling governments and partlyimposed by the international context.33 No conflict has graphically demonstrated this better than the recent Ivorien crisis. Being the hub ofeconomic activities in the WAEMU (UEMOA) regional system, the collapse of the Ivorien economy inthe wake of crisis severely undermined state capacity in the seven other member states of UEMOA.Since many of them are landlocked(Mali, Burkina Faso & Niger) with almost total dependence on the 3
  4. 4. Triggered by both external and internal factors, the crisis of hegemony and legitimacy ofthe average African state found refuge in the attempt to seek a common response to theproblems at home. Whilst regionalism is not new in West Africa – given theleadership’s commitment to it as a political project since the mid-1970s, a number offactors seem to have promoted the virtues of regionalism amongst African leaders andpeoples in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The peculiar context of the 1990s, especiallyin the context of the factors outlined below, definitely redefined the nature of bothpolitics and conflict in a number of ways with significant bearings on regionalism. Africawitnessed in the period in review: • Shifts in global and geo-political power relations, in particular the end of the cold war and the retraction of the imperial security umbrella, allowed former client regimes to be challenged in ways unimaginable in the past; • The retreat of the superpowers placed greater prominence on the role of and competition between regional powers in conflict and conflict management; • Conflict parties (both governments and rebel groups) previously supported by superpowers had to turn to new sources of funding, including the exploitation of natural resources and criminal activity (drugs, etc) making them potentially less amenable to external pressure; • New particularistic forms of political consciousness and identity, often structured around religion and ethnicity, replaced the extant ‘universalistic’ debates between ‘capitalism’ and ‘socialism’ that had underpinned the Cold War, reinforcing the erosion of a sense of common citizenship fostered by state contraction and popular disillusionment with politics; • Erosion of the institutional capacity of the average African state, the most profound aspect of which was the decomposition of the security apparatuses, affecting the ability of the state to ensure the security of the state as well as that of the community; • Strengthening of regional collective mechanisms encouraged by the retreat of the superpowers, with regionalism taking much firmer root, crowned recently by the launch of the African Union and introduction of NEPAD. In this regard, regional and sub-regional conflict management mechanisms have assisted the development of autonomous capacity to handle local conflicts in spite of the inherent challenges faced by these institutions. This has placed greater prominence on continental responses and increased the role of and competition between regional powers in conflict prevention and conflict management as exemplified by ECOWAS, IGAD, SADC and EAC; • African states were subjected to multiple sources of pressure that eroded their sovereignty: from above, the cooption of crucial areas of policy initiative by the IFIs and a variety of donor agencies: from below – the activation of civil society and the increasing power and resources controlled by the non-governmental sectorIvorien ports, imports were hampered, exports severely delayed and the agricultural markets destroyed,all with serious implication for regional economic activities, and eventually regional security. 4
  5. 5. • Loss of centrality of the state as a consequence of contracting resources and capacity to deliver essential services, with various implications for its ability to act as the centre of social cohesion as well as for perceptions of citizenship; • State militarism, which became the progenitor of the psychology of militarism, loss of a culture of dialogue, implanting a culture of violence, and discouraging peaceful conflict-resolution and process of change. • The increasing availability and privatisation of the instruments of violence, transforming the military balance between state and society. Massive retrenchment and growing surplus of military assets globally, simultaneously with a breakdown in supply-side and demand side controls on global arms markets and (locally) recycling of decommissioned weaponry as most of the wars of the 1980s wound down. • An increase in cross-border interventions, multi-lateral as well as unilateral, and the rise of multinational armed coalitions, combining both regular and irregular armed forces. • The geo-strategic focus on international terrorism and its concomitant effect on the tendency to broaden notions of security in Africa. • New forms of violent national and trans-national crime.Regionalism in Africa – A Balance SheetGiven the context described above, while several African states are voluntarily embracingregionalism as a deliberate strategy to promote desirable political and/or fiscal ends;more frequently, however, regionalism has been foisted on other African states as part ofthe imperatives of rebuilding or sustaining societies in the aftermath of the loss ofexternal security umbrellas.While virtually every African state is involved in some sort of ‘regionalism’ in the postcold war era, the question is how and how much, and whether, indeed the type of ‘regionalprojects’ in question can be expected to gain wider currency and become ingrained in thelived experiences of communities and constituencies in Africa.To begin with, the nature and direction of regionalism is determined very much bycontext already highlighted above. Regional initiatives as opposed to state projects aretaking place in a diversity of terrains, and reflects particular kinds of regimes and politicaltransitions -: consolidating democracies (Senegal and Botswana), post-conflict peace-building scenarios (Sierra Leone, Mozambique, South Africa), transitions from militaryrule (Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Benin) or single-party dispensations (Tanzania, Kenya, TheSeychelles, Cape Verde), conquest of the state (Uganda, Ethiopia, Eritrea), contestedtransitions (Burundi, Rwanda, Cote d’Ivoire), and so forth. Further, within each of thesescenarios, sub-categories can be identified, limiting comparison and generalization.What constitutes ‘regionalism’ thus differs very much from country to country in termsof the following: 5
  6. 6. • The political, security or financial imperatives to be addressed. Regionalism may be embraced for a variety of reasons: post-conflict peace agreements or state re- building; fiscal reform, changes in the strategic environment or in military technology, attempts by regimes to restructure their security architectures (for political reasons).4 However, transitions away from conflict, control of crime, anti-coup strategy and economic imperatives seem to be the most recurrent reasons for embracing regionalism, more so than, say, strategic imperatives,5 or the desire to enhance governance, maintain civil control or promote human rights. . Sometimes regionalism has emerged as a by-product of other reforms or global trends, such as process driven constitutional reform(as in the entrenchment of automatic domestication of international instruments to which South Africa is a signatory as contained in South Africa’s 1996 constitution) or regional poverty reduction strategies, EU-ACP agreements and public expenditure management reforms. For instance, the introduction of MTEF has been important in mainstreaming African military budgeting within a regional context, bringing it into line with other state agencies, and making them at least somewhat more transparent than previously. SAP induced Civil service reforms may also have exerted some influence on regional trends. Governance programmes also seem to be facilitating openings into the security sector (for instance, the UNDP- sponsored National Police Reform Programme in Ghana, DFID’s supported Security, Safety and Access to Justice programmes). In spite of these diversities of context and direction, certain commonalities do seem to be emerging, though limited at this stage. For instance, in SADC ‘community policing’ has become the norm, even though the term appears to mean different things in different countries (by contrast, the concept is still rare in West Africa). Another commonality lies in the way that SADC militaries are named (the term ‘Defence Forces’ has become the accepted way of naming national military forces) The growing role of sub-regional bodies in norm-setting may eventually facilitate further convergence (at the moment, however, the requisite political will remains low); • The scope of regionalism, which has ranged from the broad, relatively co- ordinated doctrinal and institutional reforms in West and Southern Africa, to the piecemeal, ‘approaches that tend to be characteristic of other experiences in East Africa, Great Lakes and the Maghreb, and which are usually designed to respond to particular exigencies. ‘Full-scale’ regionalism is expensive in terms of resources, institutional capacity, and political will and leadership; thus programmes4 One example may be seen in how Rwanda used regionalism to shift the weight of its securityarchitecture from a ‘nasty neighbourhood’ in the Great Lakes (in which its relations with itsneighbours had become fraught to a wider neighbourhood in which it seeks to play a very activeand influential role in NEPAD and the new African Union by aligning with bigger players likeSouth Africa and Nigeria).5 By ‘strategic imperatives’, we refer here to reforms designed by the states to maximize thecapacity for regional benefits in the face of changing international and/or regional contexts.South Africa explicitly incorporated this into its Security sector Review, and Rwanda appears tobe headed in a similar direction with its ‘Threat Assessment’ (although probably greater emphasisis laid here on considerations of internal security). 6
  7. 7. deliberately designed to accomplish long-term transformation are the exception rather than the rule; • The extent to which Regionalism incorporates (or is governed by) formal principles, such as a strategic framework or fundamental law. Although protocols are regularly signed by Heads of State and Government at regular summits of these institutions, the extent to which these protocols and declarations are translated into a framework of implementation in regional institutions remains suspect.6 This lack of strategic plans inevitably make the institutions more susceptible to every new idea that is accompanied by resources, whether it fits into the larger goals of the institutions or not; • The processes involved: in a number of cases, regionalism has been preceded by negotiation and dialogue usually between state parties with little involvement from citizens. Broad and open dialogue that actually allows citizens to pronounce their views on regionalist projects (such as we have in the various referenda in the European Union) is non existent. Although the new leadership in ECOWAS7, SADC and EAC is beginning to embrace ‘civil society’ involvement, broadly defined, this is still the exception rather the rule. Correspondingly, regionalism differs in their degree of transparency (and hence researchability). ‘Open’ regional reform is almost always the result of a ‘political revolution’ which aims at broader political transformation; • The actors or players involved, in particular the context, extent and form of donor involvement. Regionalism in Africa has tended to be much more donor- dominated and multi-agency in character. Donors have been driven by different objectives and have utilized a variety of entry points. Donor interventions have tended to be characterized by lack of coordination, even between departments in the same government. However, this problem has increasingly been recognised and a broader inter-donor coordination is beginning to slowly emerge.8 On the whole, the role of external actors has been much weaker in shaping regionalism in Africa than in regions closer to hegemonic centres (East and Central Europe in relation to the EU and Nato, and Latin America in relation to the US), where regionalism has also tended to have greater strategic and normative coherence. In the area of conflict prevention, management and resolution, the role of donors has been limited in most cases to funding and facilitating DDRR (usually coordinated by the local UN Mission on the peace-building side or the UNDP and the World Bank on the development side). Direct donor engagement with security issues in regional contexts as such is still relatively rare. The few existing examples include DFID in Sierra Leone and now Uganda and Rwanda, on a limited scale. DFID has also been involved in police reform in several SADC countries (there was extensive donor involvement at several levels in the police6 As at 20th January 2003, 33 protocols and conventions have been entered into force in accordancewith the ECOWAS Treaty.7 ECOWAS recently established a Civil Society Unit, and drew up parameters for engagement withcivil society institutions in the region. The new African Union is also in the process of finalising theprotocol of the Economic, Cultural and Social Council.8 On ECOWAS, see for example, West Africa-European Community Regional Cooperation StrategyPaper and Regional Indicative Programme for the period 2002-2007 – 7
  8. 8. reform process in South Africa). The British were involved through BMATT in military integration and retraining in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and now Sierra Leone (actually IMATT). ‘Traditional’ bilateral relations in the military arena continue to flourish (the US maintains extensive links through IMET and other programs), much of it focusing on peacekeeping training (ACRI, RECAMP, BMATT again). In a number of cases, donor influence in or oversight of security sector reform (direct as in the case of Sierra Leone or indirect as in the case of Guinea-Bissau) has been almost total. In spite of this, donor impact in regional conflict issues has been determined very much by the political will and responsiveness of the regime involved (contrast Mozambique and Sierra Leone with Guinea-Bissau). In recent times, regional peacekeeping institutions have also received donor support. In West Africa, the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, the Zambakro Military Training Centre in Cote d’Ivoire and the Koulikro Military Academy in Mali, have all benefited from such support. Other military assistance to regional mechanisms include, for example activities of United States European Command in ECOWAS conflict prevention work and most recently – anti-terror activities in the IGAD zones. The effect of this is not necessarily very conducive to security sector transformation. If anything, the tendency is to emphasise ‘hard’ security issues in an ad-hoc manner instead of holistic security which ECOWAS has embraced as an institution.Ultimately, our position is that given the “glocal” nature of the conflicts afflicting many of thestates in Africa, state rebuilding and consolidation can only be reinforced in the context ofregional integration supported by global partnership. None of the countries in question canrespond to these problems on its own terms and traditional bi-lateral assistance’ only have alimited chance of sustainable success. Majority of the states are only sovereign in the juridicalsense, not in terms of making available basic provision to their citizens and the most realistic wayof addressing the problems they confront is by treating them as part of a regional system. If onewere to review the dire figures contained in the social and economic indicators below and recentfigures provided on official development assistance in West Africa (The Reality of Aid, AfricanEdition 2002), it seems evident that to continue to live under the illusion of juridical sovereigntyand westphalian logic is a vehicle for undermining human security in West Africa. Social and Economic Indicators 2002Country Population GDP GNP per Human Devt Life Expectancy Adult literacy (millions) ($bn)) Capita($) Index (%)Benin 6.0 2.4 380 147 53.6 39Burkina Faso 11.0 2.6 230 159 46.1 23Cape Verde 0.4 0.6 1,330 91 69.4 74Cote d’Ivoire 16.2 10.5 660 144 47.8 46Gambia 1.3 0.4 330 149 45.9 36Ghana 19.0 6.8 350 119 56.6 70Guinea 7.0 3.3 450 150 47.1 35Guinea-Bissau 1.2 0.2 180 156 44.5 38Liberia 3.1 NA NA NA NA NAMali 11.0 2.6 240 153 51.2 40Niger 11.0 2.0 180 161 44.8 15Nigeria 127.0 32.8 260 136 51.5 63Senegal 9.3 4.7 500 145 52.9 36Sierra Leone 5.0 0.6 130 162 38.3 32Togo 5.0 1.4 300 128 51.6 56Total 233.3 70.9 304(average)Sources: World Development Report 2002 & UNDP Human Development Report 2002.So, if human security provides the framework for achieving democratisation anddevelopment, regionalism is the basic institutional scaffolding that we ought to pay 8
  9. 9. particular attention to since the gains of a human security approach are best realisedwithin a regional context. The importance of the Economic Community of West AfricanStates (ECOWAS) can hardly be overemphasised in this context – which is whyelaborating on the place of regional institutions in accomplishing the twin goals ofdevelopment and democracy is crucial to the realisation of proper governance andsecurity in the region.Yet, acknowledging the importance and inevitability of regionalism is not tantamount tosuggesting that regional institutions are devoid of serious challenges. Indeed, in the caseof ECOWAS and as evident from the balance sheet outlined above, questions continueto abound as to the extent to which regionalism is grounded in lived experience and canact as a mechanism for promoting human security. Some of the challenges oftenhighlighted include amongst others: a) the enduring legacy of the Westphalian nation-state, b) lack of common core values driving the regional project; c) a perpetual resourcegap hampering progress and implementation of regionalism, d) the formalism of theregionalist project which tend to emphasise a wide array of institutions with little or nocapacity to manage them; e) issues of regionalism as leaderism in which people to peoplepartnerships take the backseat whilst regionalism is only happening at the Heads ofStates’ level and government realm, f) issues of regional hegemony – all of which tend togive the impressions of regionalism as an externally driven agenda, and not the productof the people’s lived experiences.If, as we have argued, the balance sheet of the 1990s conflicts in West Africa resides inthe severe economic and fiscal compression exemplified by the structural adjustmentshocks of the period, it is not in doubt that regionalism must respond to the erosion ofsocial capital, political legitimacy and institutional weakening of many African statesthrough a collective regional response to issues of governance, development andsecurity.9 In West Africa, ECOWAS has attempted to respond to these imperatives bybroadening the notions of security and developing multi-faceted responses, from being astrictly regional economic integration agency to a regional development, integration andsecurity institution. Although ECOWAS has responded to this with an inchoate agendaand in an incoherent manner, it is possible to discern and cluster its responses into fourcategories: 1) promoting human security as the bedrock for peace - The revisedECOWAS Treaty of 1993, the regional integration strategy and the Mechanism forConflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security play vital rolesin this; 2) democracy and open governance – The supplementary protocol on democracyand good governance of 2001 addresses this aspect; 3) transformation of violent conflictsthrough political processes – the raft of peace talks and agreements on Sierra Leone,Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea Bissau demonstrate ECOWAS’ commitment; and 4)collective security for all West African states – linkages with the African Union, the EU-ACP project and the links to the United Nations also demonstrate ECOWAS’commitment here.These protocols and mechanisms go a long way in contributing to norm building andvalues reorientation – an area in which ECOWAS has largely excelled, yet theirimplementation is still largely work in progress and the challenge for ECOWAS is one ofinstitutionalising these protocols and mechanisms over the long term.9 On this issue, see contributions to a recent volume, Nicolas Van de Walle, Nicole Ball & VijayaRamachandran (eds), Beyond Structural Adjustment: The Institutional Context of African Development(New York: Palgrave, 2003) 9
  10. 10. Institutionalising Regional Cooperative Security: Opportunities and Prospects forECOWASIt can be reasonably argued that ECOWAS represents to date the best example of aprocess of institutionalising cooperative security on the continent. Established in 1975 topromote cooperation and development in all fields of economic activities among its 15member states, ECOWAS entered into cooperative security from a primarily regionaleconomic integration objective in 1990 when it went into Liberia to restore peace.Although a Mutual Assistance in Defence Protocol was signed in 1981, ECOWAS’ firstforay into the collective security arena in 1990 was ad-hoc and capricious. Indeed, it is fairto state that the experience garnered in the first peacekeeping mission launched in Liberiain has enabled ECOWAS to pursue an institutional framework for cooperative securityfollowing the bitter lessons that accompanied a mission that was largely driven throughthe goodwill and commitment of a regional hegemon, Nigeria. The lack of clarity overmandate, political acceptance, composition, military capability and accountability of themission affected what was otherwise a well-intentioned regional project with little or nobacking from the international community.It is however a tribute to ECOWAS leaders that they drew strongly on the lessons ofLiberia and Sierra Leone and decided to institutionalise a conflict mechanism in thebroader scheme of things within the regional economic community. A raft of agreements- The ECOWAS Revised treaty of 1993, the Protocol relating to the Mechanism forConflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security approved in1999 and the Supplementary Protocol on Democracy & Good Governance endorsed bythe Heads of State in December 2001 all demonstrate the fact that a great deal of localthinking is propelling the institutionalisation of a collective security architecture in WestAfrica with assigned roles for governments and civil society.In spite of the changes that have occurred and the structures put in place, the product isstill a long way away from where it should be. If ECOWAS declarations of intent areindeed turned into substance as the Heads of Government and the Executive Secretariatare determined to achieve, it is possible for cooperative regional security to take a muchfirmer root in West Africa in time to come. In terms of institutions, the Mechanismestablished several institutions, organs and strategies, all with defined responsibilities andaims that address peace and security in the sub-region. The most critical institutions are:• The Mediation and Security Council – The Council operates at the level of heads of state and government, ministers and ambassadors, charged with the responsibilities of taking decisions that impact on peace and security, including authorising deployment of missions;• The Defence and Security Commission – Made up of Defence chiefs and security officials charged with the responsibilities of dealing with the technicalities of military intervention;• ECOMOG, the erstwhile ad-hoc force now formally established as a multi-purpose stand-by force ready for immediate deployment. ECOMOG is described as multi- purpose in the sense that it can assume one of several functions of observation, monitoring and peacekeeping. More significantly, it can be deployed for humanitarian intervention or the enforcement of sanctions. It can also undertake policing activities in order to control fraud and/or organised crime;• An early warning system, in the form of a regional observation network has been created. Established within the secretariat and also in four zones within the 10
  11. 11. Community, the observation centres are charged with collecting data on states ranging across economic, political, security and social sectors to be analysed with a view to detecting early warning signals that may signify potential conflicts which could then inform region-wide conflict prevention strategies;• A Council of Elders is also proposed as a mechanism for injecting traditional conflict resolution mechanism to assume a role in mediation, conciliation and negotiation. This is made up of 32 eminent persons drawn from within and outside the region with a mandate for preventive diplomacy and it is convened as and when required by the Executive Secretariat.As Figure 1 below shows, the Executive Secretariat plays a central role in ensuring thatthe Conflict Mechanism functions adequately. As stated above, the Executive Secretaryhas the responsibility to deploy the Council of Elders in any given situation. Moreimportantly, the newly created office of Political Affairs, Defence and Security (PADS)headed by a Deputy Executive Secretary is primarily charged with the implementation ofthe mechanism, supervision of the Early warning operations and the zonal observationcentres aimed at conflict prevention, servicing of the Defence and Security Commissionand policy formulation and implementation of all peacekeeping and humanitarianoperations.The Mechanism and its supplementary protocol on Democracy and Good Governancealso take a broader view of security, stressing the importance of human security anddemocratic governance in the security sector, including roles for civil society. TheProtocol also covers institutional capacity building in the community in order to providehumanitarian assistance in conflict or disaster area and provides a framework for actionby the community in the critical area of peace-building – a pioneer document in the fieldof humanitarian intervention. .Whilst the ECOWAS mechanism offers a good approach to designing a framework forcooperative security, its implementation in Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia have pointed tonoticeable gaps. Indeed, the experience in ECOMICI(the mission in Cote d’Ivoire) andECOMIL(Mission in Liberia) have both demonstrated the desperate need for anenhanced conflict prevention and management planning and operational managementcapability at the Secretariat whilst broadening the involvement of other criticalstakeholders. For example, the involvement of the ECOWAS Parliament in theimplementation of the Mechanism and the Supplementary Protocol on GoodGovernance and Democracy through the revision of the Protocol that established theParliament is one aspect of this review that ought to take place. The protocolestablishing the Parliament makes it essentially a forum, composed of delegations fromnational parliaments, whose ‘opinion may be sought on matters concerning theCommunity’ on a range of areas prior to their adoption by the Council’ with little or nosupra-national legislative powers. This system clearly suffers a ‘huge dose of democraticdeficit’ since parliamentarians are the only direct representatives of the citizens in theCommunity. Yet, true as this is, the history of trans-national legislatures the world overis one of evolution, usually from delegations from national parliaments to directly electedrepresentation. It is also the case that the powers of trans-national parliaments graduallyevolve from being largely consultative assemblies to genuine decision-making legislatures,both in scope and in powers. Circumstances dictate these inevitable transitions and theperformance of the parliament to date gives the impression that its powers will certainlygrow in consonance with the quality of representation in the Parliament. It is howevercommendable that the Authority of Heads of State and Government is now committed 11
  12. 12. to enhancing the powers of the Parliament and promoting the principles of co-decisionwith Council.10At the strategic level, even though a raft of mechanisms and protocols that very clearlyset the parameters for the effective functioning of the organization are in place, there isno coherent strategy for turning these declarations of intent into implementable actions(as events in Cote d’Ivoire and lately Liberia brought out in clear relief), leaving room foroften well-meaning, but usually misguided initiatives to occupy the time of staff.This problem is made worse by the operational inefficiencies within the organization as awhole. This is partly a capacity issue, with key positions left unfilled and theoverwhelming pressure that is placed on the few key officials recruited. In terms ofprofessional staff, the Executive Secretariat is currently heavily understaffed due to ahiring freeze caused by financial constraints. The middle management level within theSecretariat requires strengthening in terms of personnel and procedures so that is capableof functioning with greater automaticity. At the present time, decisions tend to require theleadership and the Secretariat’s leadership that is often absent on official business.The Secretariat currently consists of some 50 professionals; however, a recent assessmentindicated a need for 85 additional professional staff members – staff that are critical tothe smooth functioning of the organisation.11 At the time of the mission in May 2003, theimportant Political Affairs, Defence and Security (PADS) department formed in 2001,for example, only just recruited in September 2003 to three of its four departmentalheads. Meanwhile, other departments operate on the basis of temporary appointments.Though a first hiring round has been approved and several positions were recentlyadvertised, the Secretariat still faces financial constraints and at present time it isunknown how soon the additional positions will be filled.Box 2: Staff Situation in ECOWAS Secretariat in October 2003Administrative Unit Approved Current Staff Proposed Expected Organisation (2002) Organisation Consultants Chart (1999) Chart (2005) (short term)1. Cabinet 1 1 1 22. Legal 3 1 4 03. Internal Audit 2 1 3 04. Communications 3 2 4 05. Administration 21 10 26 06. Finance 4 4 8 07. Agriculture/Rural 7 4 12 1 Development8. Infrastructure and 5 7 12 2 Industry9. Human Development 4 1 7 110. Computer Centre 5 5 12 011. Trade and Customs 6 5 10 112. Economic Policy 8 4 14 213. Political Affairs 3 1 3 114. Humanitarian Affairs 3 1 3 015. Defence and Security 4 1 4 010 See paragraph 50 of the Final Communiqué issued at the end of the 25th session of the Authority ofHeads of State and Government held in Dakar, Senegal, on December 20 and 21, 2001.11 KPMG, Review of Organisational Development at the ECOWAS Secretariat, Abuja. 12
  13. 13. 16. Monitoring Centre 7 5 10 017. Financial Controller 0 0 2 0TOTAL 86 53 135 10Though the long-standing embargo on new appointments has ended, the speed ofrecruitment will be influenced by ECOWAS’ continuing financial problems.In a recent document linked to the NEPAD implementation process, a number ofcritical management issues were highlighted, together with the actions need to be taken inorder for ECOWAS to meet its future challenges12:• Consolidating its internal structure and simplifying the layers of decision-making required• Strengthening the Office of the Executive Secretary in order to better define the institution’s corporate strategy, business plan and corporate strategies and to align its programmes systematically with the NEPAD programme so as to have a systematic corporate view of the institution’s activities and key performance indicators• Developing an efficient information system, which requires equipment, new software, and a corporate framework to ensure that the subsystems are coherent and communicate easily with each other• Enhancing its communication capacity to inform civil society in the member states regarding the content and implementation of NEPAD• Developing more transparent and streamlined administrative and financial procedures• Developing an up-to-date management culture that will be action- and result-oriented• Revising the staff evaluation and incentive systems.While the above list was elaborated in a NEPAD context, the points made are also verymuch in line with what is needed within the Peace and Security area.Whilst the capacity gap is not in doubt, of more importance however is the lack of clarityover roles and responsibilities, absence of agenda-setting and proper supervision by theleadership and low level of prioritization in the organization. Some of these have beenhighlighted by the crisis in Cote d’Ivoire that has sapped the energy of the organizationand often dominated the agenda of its senior management, but many of the problems arethe result of the inherent weaknesses of the organizational structure which should elicitthe concern of the Authority of Heads of State and Government.13Although the current Executive Secretary came in with a commitment to effectivelyoperationalise the protocols and mechanisms that have emerged over the years and hiscommitment remains unwavering in my view, his focus has largely been overtaken byevents in short term reactions to emerging situations with all its attendant ramifications,and this has left him little time for effectively overseeing the affairs of the Secretariat. Hisfour deputies for (Political Affairs, Defence and Security, Integration Programmes, PolicyHarmonisation and Finance & Administration – see Organogram) are also occupied withother issues, leaving often a near total absence of leadership in the Secretariat, save for12 Institutional Capacity Building Programme: Short Term Action Plan, ECOWAS Secretariat,October 2002.13 The Executive Secretary is particularly concerned about this, and he has been organizingmanagement retreats for the senior professionals with support from USAID West Africa RegionalOffice in Bamako, Mali. 13
  14. 14. the Director of Cabinet in his office. Indeed, the situation is so bad that ECOWAS maybe losing a lot of goodwill it has gained from the international community, either fortardy responses to offers of support or inexplicable loss of opportunities.ECOWAS OrganogramTied to this is the donor dependency that is the bane of the organisation. Externalassistance, in and of itself ought not to be a problem, provided it is based on a processowned at least jointly with the recipients of external assistance, if not exclusively by them.With a lack of a strategic plan which will enable ECOWAS to assess external offers ofassistance in the context of how they fit into the overall plan of the institution, ratherthan on the basis of the purported benefit to ECOWAS by the purveyors of theseinitiatives, the organisation ends up depending on the received wisdom of the external‘do-gooders’ to the detriment of overall interest of security and stability in the sub-region.14 On the flip side, with improper briefing on developments within ECOWAS,many funders fall over themselves to support ECOWAS at the strategic, institutional andoperational levels with little knowledge of the organisational imperatives and needs. Inmost cases, ECOWAS is unable to respond due to demands for support due to its owncapacity problems and many of such funders become frustrated and speak ill of theorganisation at every opportunity, rather than see the problem as the result of a lack ofshared understanding and ownership. Consequently, weak institutional development anda lack of strategic direction probably represent equally serious problems in addition tocompeting donor agendas.1514 In the most egregious instances, donors insist on offering technical assistance to ECOWAS evenwhen this is not the most three desperate need of the organization. In one particular instance, threecountries offered ECOWAS technical military assistance and decided to send mid-career or retiredmilitary officers to work in the ECOWAS Secretariat. While some of the liaison officers are quitecompetent and committed to the goals of regional security, they have not been able to achieve a greatdeal because ECOWAS has refused to take ownership, arguing rather half-heartedly that they don’treally need these officers15 Although efforts are being made to address donor competition, I am not optimistic that the problemscan be overcome in the short-term because of the refusal to adopt regional strategies on the part ofdonors. Many donors still exhibit preferences for particular countries and specific projects regardlessof whether these contribute to an expedited overall regional strategy. Donors are meeting with 14
  15. 15. This obviously raises a fundamental question of accountability and strategic interestsespecially when those external interests conflict with local and regional imperatives.Again, the Executive Secretariat is exploring various innovative efforts such as the 0.5 taxon imports into member states to ensure ownership and address the implications ofdonor driven agendas, none to date has proved to be successful in getting states to meettheir assessed contributions to the Community, leaving the wealthiest and most populousState to underwrite the expenses of the organisation, with accusations of domination inits wake.A third, perhaps most critical problem with the ECOWAS framework is that of a lack ofagreement on a common understanding on security and stability. Although the protocolsreferred to above were signed with fanfare by most of the Heads of government andtheir representatives, nation-building peculiarities make it difficult for member states toexhibit a shared understanding of a common future. This is worsened by the politics ofpost 9/11 period which is returning ECOWAS and other regional institutions into hardsecurity issues, rather than maintaining the emphasis on human security issues that haverelevance to the wider community. It would be sad if the view were to gain widespreadacceptance that despotic peace is better than problematic democratic freedom andECOWAS leaders are demonstrating continued commitment to what matters to thepeople of West Africa, in spite of external pressures.16 The fact that the ECOWAS hasfaced various challenges in responding to the Ivorien crisis underscores the need for aframework that goes beyond the creation of institutions and structures, but one that alsopossesses the capacity and the credibility to act on the side of humanitarian interventionand restoration of order.Towards a Framework for Regional Human Security: RecommendationsAlthough what the West African experience demonstrates is that cooperative security ispossible, even among states that lack common values, the future success of cooperativesecurity depends not only on spreading values that promote human security, but also ondevelopmental regionalism that intensifies economic ties even in the quest to foster asense of a ‘security community’ that serves the interest of all its members. The closer theties among states and their citizens in the socio-economic spheres, the more they willfind ways to further their security cooperatively.Hence, given the context of regionalism described above and the challenges tocooperative security in Africa, a number of factors are, in my own view, central to thesuccess or otherwise of the process of entrenching cooperative security in any regionalbloc, if we are to move beyond the formalism of the moment. They include, but are notnecessarily limited to the following key elements:• Understanding the nature of the post-colonial state and the nation-building prospects in Africa and the prospects for reinforcing state-building through regionalism;• Subscription to and institutionalisation of core regional values and norms;ECOWAS in Accra, Ghana from November 13 – 15, 2003 to try and harmonise issues andprogrammes.16 The way the ECOWAS leadership has responded to the recent crisis in Guinea Bissau is a testimonyto its commitments to the values of democracies and good governance in the region. 15
  16. 16. • Focusing on deepening democratic and open governance and preventing violent conflicts through political processes;• Promoting long term conditions for security and development by using human security as a bedrock for peace;• Developing an integrated peacebuilding approach to human security – through the promotion of governmental and non-governmental approaches and treating peacekeeping, peacemaking and post-conflict transformation in a continuum;• Entrenching democratic governance of the security sector by establishing a clear role definition for security services whilst enhancing professionalism of the sector;• Building the capacity of African institutions for early warning, as well as enhancing their capacity to prevent, manage and resolve conflicts;• Strengthening developmental regionalism as a means of addressing the negative aspects of globalisation;• Establishing the parameters of genuine continental and global partnership – including role clarification between sub-regional bodies, African Union, United Nations etc.Whilst it is difficult to be prescriptive about the framework for human security in Africa,the outline above offers a research agenda to pursue in the post norm-building phase ofECOWAS development. In spite of the gaps highlighted in this paper, it is gratifying tonote that most of what I have stated here are fully reflected as the key vehicles forcooperation between the new African Union and the Regional Economic Communitiesin Africa’s quest for sustainable security and development. ECOWAS has been ahead ofthe pack in many respects in spite of its capacity limitations, and it continues to exhibitsthe best prospects for deepening regional conflict prevention and management projectsamong all of the RECs.The challenge is one of maintaining current gains, as well as achieving and promoting thevalues of ownership, participation, open and transparency accountability, fundamentalfreedoms and the rule of law and, to complement structures through people to peoplepartnerships. The overriding importance of responsible politics and responsiveleadership in building regional security cooperation is evident from the above. Until weget both, the move from hegemonic regionalism to developmental regionalism, whichmay keep the peace, but will hardly promote fundamental values of ownership andintegration, is bound to be slow. 16