ECOWAS ministers tackle security, socio-economic problems

Dakar- Senegal (PANA) -- The ECOWAS Foreign Ministers meeting beginning Monday in the Senegalese capital, Dakar ahead of the Community's 25th ordinary Summit would be grappling with security and socio-economic problems such as trafficking in persons, corruption, democracy and good governance, confronting the sub-region.
Delegate sources told PANA the meeting to prepare the agenda for the 20-21 December Summit, would examine the security situation in the 15-nation Organisation, especially the implementation of the Protocol relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security.
The toddling peace process in Sierra Leone and the evolving situation in the restive three-nation Mano River Union, which also includes Liberia and Guinea, would figure, the delegates said.
Also on the agenda is the Plan of Action on trafficking in persons, detailing measures to be taken by member States for the 2002-2003 period "with focus on criminal justice responses" to a crime that has brought international disrepute to some members of the sub-region, where child trafficking is assuming a worrying dimension.
ECOWAS Foreign ministers are also expected to deliberate and recommend for the Summit's adoption, a protocol on Democracy and Good Governance prepared at an experts committee meeting held 22- 24 October in Lome, Togo.
The instrument, which is supplementary to the Protocol relating to the Mechanism on Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security, recommends devolution of powers, due electoral process, consolidation of the democratic process, human rights and the rule of law, as well as the independence of the judiciary as some of the measures required of Member States.
Others are poverty alleviation, defined role for armed and security forces in a democracy, status of the opposition and non- discrimination on the basis of sex, ethnicity, race, religion or region.
Another crucial topic on the agenda topic of the Foreign Ministers meeting is the Draft Protocol on the fight against corruption, a canker worm eating into the management of economic resources at all levels in many Member States.
Experts from ECOWAS and the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention/Centre for International Crime Prevention (UNODCCP/CICP) met in Accra, Ghana in October to draw up the 27- article protocol covering preventive measures, extradition and mutual legal assistance and law enforcement co-operation in dealing with corruption and related crimes.
Delegates believe the adoption and implementation of these instruments dealing with security, political and socio-economic issues by ECOWAS Member countries would boost efforts at sub- regional integration.
Meanwhile, ECOWAS Central Bank Governors and the Council of Ministers were expected to end their own deliberations Monday as part of the build up to the Summit, which would elect a new Executive Secretary and confirm President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal as chair of the Community for the next one year.

17 december 2001 16:33:00

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