National Security Strategies for ECOWAS

Salamatu Suleiman

Regional experts in security at a meeting in Banjul, The Gambia, urge members of the Economic Community of West African Community, ECOWAS, to develop national security strategies

By Maureen Chigbo  |  Jun. 9, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

IN the wake of increasing security threats in West Africa, a two-day inter-governmental experts meeting on the Validation of the ECOWAS Regional Policy Framework on Security Sector Reform and Governance, SSSR/G,  has urgently called on member states to develop national security strategies with developmental objectives where they do not currently exist.

The meeting which ended in Banjul, The Gambia, on May 23, also advocated “minimal political interference in the professional affairs of the security sectors of member states that have already initiated SSRG reforms to align such initiatives with the Regional Policy Framework proposed by ECOWAS once adopted.”

In its 17-point report, the meeting equally urged “ECOWAS to define strategies, priorities, timelines, success indicators or shortcomings on the implementation” of the reforms. The participants at the meeting also called on member states to “take into cognizance the need to consistently improve the remunerations/welfare packages of law enforcement agents/security providers as a prerequisite for effective implementation of SSRG processes as stated in Article 74(a) of the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework of 2008.” In addition, the experts called for exchange of best practices among member states on security sector reform.

In her address to the opening of the meeting, read by Abdourahmane Dieng, a colonel and head of division, Regional Security, Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, ECOWAS commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, said: “The role of ECOWAS has become crucial to assist our Member States to prevent, anticipate, prepare and respond better and faster to issues that could challenge security and stability of our region.”

The Commissioner recalled various regional instruments in place and efforts by ECOWAS “to redefine security as a subject that is not the exclusive preserve of the military and the political class, but also requires the participation of civil society as a common denominator in the process.”

Ousman Sonko, Gambia’s interior minister, who opened the meeting said the experiences of West African countries “emerging from conflict over the past two decades have shown that security is a prerequisite for economic and social development and regional integration and it is also acknowledged that security can only be ensured through democratic control of the security sector.”

Consequently, he urged the participants to critically review the ECOWAS document and make quality recommendations for its enrichment, with a view to reducing the potential for internal and external conflicts in the region.

The ECOWAS SSR/G Policy Framework, which has been under development since 2009 has been reviewed by the relevant ECOWAS Directorates and international independent experts and is now expected to be presented to the Mediation and Security Council for endorsement following the review by the Banjul meeting.

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