The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) hosted a delegation from the world renowned United Kingdom Royal College of Defence Studies (RCDS). The RCDS delegation was at the ECOWAS Commission in order to have a strategic perspective of the current position and future prospects for the preservation and enhancement of the security, stability and prosperity of the region.
The Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs Halima Ahmed was on hand to receive the delegation on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Alain Marcel de Souza. Mrs Ahmed stressed the importance of the RCDS visit to the Commission and cited the diversity of participants who come from across the world. She expressed delight in the composition of the delegation and felt as if the whole world is visiting ECOWAS.
During the session which took place on 16th May 2017, in Abuja, Nigeria, Mrs Ahmed briefed the visiting delegates about ECOWAS and its Protocols which have been put in place to ensure peace and security in the region.
She stated that, while ECOWAS was initially set up to foster economic integration, it became apparent that peace and stability was a prerequisite to economic integration, sustainable development and prosperity. These she stated, necessitated the addition of peace and security to the objectives of the organization.
The leader of the team from RCDS, Major General Craig Lawrence in his remarks, highlighted that ECOWAS plays a crucial role in the stability of the region through its peace keeping initiatives which has brought global accolades to the Commission. He expressed his team’s willingness to learn from the rich experiences of ECOWAS in terms of international peace and security. He also expressed hope that his team would gain insight into the workings of ECOWAS through the briefing session.
Members of the visiting delegation were also intimated about the structure, mandate and prospects of the ECOWAS Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security which includes the Directorates of Early Warning, Political Affairs and Peace Keeping and Regional Security.
The Department operates in line with several legal protocols such as the ECOWAS Revised Treaty (1993), the Protocol relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security (1999), Supplementary protocol on Democracy and Good Governance (2001), the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (2008) and the Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons (2009).
The visiting team from the UK RCDS observed through the briefing, the synergy between ECOWAS and other Regional Economic Communities/Regional Mechanisms (RECs/RMs) in Africa especially in the area of maritime security and safety in the Gulf of Guinea. They also applauded ECOWAS for its robust peacekeeping initiatives, its timely early-warning and response mechanisms and its often successful political and mediation missions.
Those in attendance at the meeting include Brigadier Charles Calder, Defence Adviser of the British High Commission and ECOWAS Director of Political Affairs, Dr.Remi Ajibewa, the Director for Early warning, Dr. Abdou Lat Gueye, and the Head of ECOWAS Peace Support Operations Division, Colonel Ollo Alain Palle amongst others.
The session concluded with a call for more interaction between the two institutions in order to foster a working relationship in the areas of peace and security.