The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) have pledged to intensify their existing collaboration on peace and security.
The commitment was given when the Commissioner for Peace and Security of the AU Commission Ambassador Bankole Adeoye paid a working visit to the ECOWAS Commission’s Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) on the 29th of October, 2021, in Abuja, Nigeria.
Conferring with the ECOWAS’ Commission’s PAPS team, Ambassador Adeoye highlighted areas where relations between the two entities should be on the ascendancy, to include full operationalisation of the African Standby Force (ASF), harmonization and promotion of peace and security initiatives, increased experience sharing as well as building a more integrated capacity through peace support operations training.
Calling for the creation of inter-regional knowledge exchange on early warning and conflict prevention, Amb Adeoye stressed the need for its collective ownership by all Regional Economic Communities (RECs) from conception, facilitation and implementation.
“If we invested in early warning for instance, we will not be going to Guinea to fire fight. As each REC faces challenges, we can cross learn. All we need to do is build synergies that are strong, durable and sustainable. I strongly believe in subsidiarity and the comparative advantage we can derive from it. ” He added.
Responding, the ECOWAS Commission’s Director for Political Affairs Dr. Aderemi Ajibewa who stood in for the Commissioner for PAPS Gen Francis Behanzin noted that the evolving peace and security landscape calls for closer collaboration with the continental body. Citing instances of collaboration with the AU, he stressed the need to leverage institutional memory even as the commitment to subsidiarity, complementarity and comparative advantage remains unwavering.
During the meeting, Dr. Ajibewa took note of the submissions by political officers on the need to rethink better ways of navigating sensitive waters having to do with certain principles such as those of sovereignty, adjudged to be negatively affecting mediation efforts.
The meeting also featured presentations from the Directorates of Early warning, (knowledge sharing on early warning), Political Affairs (conflict prevention and mediation) and Peacekeeping and Regional Security (Operationalisation of ASF and Deployment of 3000 troops to Sahel)
Amid pertinent questions raised and elaborations, there were also interventions by the Directors of Early Warning and Peacekeeping and Regional Security Dr. Lat Gueye and Dr. Cyriaque Agnekethom respectively, who coordinated the presentations of their Directorates.