The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadré Desiré Ouedraogo has called for the harmonization and coordination of the disparate conflict prevention and management efforts at national levels and their linkage to regional and continental architecture in order to maximize effectiveness and the benefits.
“Our individual and collective initiatives to stabilize the Region are an indispensable component towards sustainable development and human dignity of our people,” the President said in an address in Accra, Ghana on Monday 9th September 2013 at the opening of a two-day Regional Conference on “Building National Peace Infrastructures: Strengthening National, Regional and Continental Coordination in Conflict Prevention.”
Co-organized by the UNDP, the African Union Commission (AUC) and ECOWAS in consultation with the Government of Ghana, the Accra meeting is a follow up to the June 2013 consultation in Addis Ababa by the UNDP, AU and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on the enhancement of RECs capacities for conflict prevention and mediation.
President Ouedraogo, represented by the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, noted that while efforts accorded to peace and security by national and regional stakeholders, have succeeded in increasing the resilience of the region to wanton human rights abuses and violent conflicts, much more remains to be accomplished.”
He said “the continuing disputes associated with electoral processes and the new forms of emerging threats call for a careful review of existing mechanisms,” adding that while “existing regional and national mechanisms tend to emphasize Track I conflict management
methodologies,” greater focus should now be placed on local and alternative dispute resolution.
“Conflict management should be less compartmentalized and show structural and organic links between the local, national and the regional efforts,” the ECOWAS chief added.
He expressed the hope that through consultation, ECOWAS Member States should be exposed to the initiatives, tools and opportunities available in constructing viable infrastructures for peace at the national, regional and continental levels. These should include modalities for extending best practices and opportunities to build national peace and security architectures, where they do not exist, and to broaden and further strengthen existing infrastructures
There should also be “synergies and collaboration between national and
regional infrastructures at the national level; modalities and roadmap for linking national conflict prevention, resolution and peace building initiatives to the regional and continental architectures; and development of a Plan of Action around concrete initiatives and activities for cooperation between the Member States, ECOWAS and the AU on a mutually reinforcing and organic peace and security architecture.”
In this regard, the President noted that a pilot study commissioned by the ECOWAS Early Warning Directorate on National Early Warning and Response Mechanisms has generated a draft Regional Policy Framework, which will be discussed with Member States, starting in October, 2013 at the expert level for eventual adoption by the regional Mediation and Security Council.
Speaking in the same vein at the opening, Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama, noted that the “complex challenges emanating from the changing nature of violence can no longer be met with the old Law and order Concept.”
While security forces could be deployed to enforce peace, “such peace is not sustainable so long as the root causes of the conflict are not addressed,” the President affirmed in the speech delivered by Mr. Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
As a solution, he suggested the Community Security and Social Cohesion approach, which seeks to “create platforms for various actors in conflict contexts to engage constructively and to help develop coherent interventions to enhance peace, security, development and
cohesion at the community, regional and national levels, thereby building resilient societies with the capacity to promote tolerance and dialogue.”
According to the Ghanaian leader, “the advantage of this approach is that it facilitates engagement on common analysis to understand the drivers of violence and insecurity and to develop effective response strategies based on the characteristics of the conflict.”
The UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, Ms Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, reiterated the UN system’s continued support to ECOWAS, AU and their Member States “to promote peace infrastructures in the region.”
“Indeed, the United Nations,” she said: “has a duty to help nations develop their own capacity to peacefully resolve their differences and disputes.”
Ghana’s Interior Minister, Kwesi Ahwoi explained that “Constructive conflict management is as much a science as an art,” adding that developing a national infrastructure for peace in every country’s context “offers national governments the opportunity to acquire transformative approach to conflict management and peace building, in a manner which resolves the issues and maintains or even strengthens relationships.”
The chair of the opening ceremony Dr. Susubribi Krobea Asante, a member of Ghana’s Council of Chiefs and National Council of State, toed the same line in his speech in which he urged countries should to be more proactive in peace building as this would help nip potential conflicts in the bud.
The two-day meeting brings together key partners in the West African region to consult on how best to strengthen linkages between national, regional and continental initiatives on conflict presentation and mediation. Participants include representatives from the AU, ECOWAS, Ministers of Interior or their representatives, as well as representatives of national peace infrastructures, and similar regional structures and representatives of UNDP Country offices.