Nigeria: ECOWAS seeks reform of regional security sector, governance

Abuja, Nigeria (PANA) - The ECOWAS Commission has called for profound and urgent security sector and governance reforms at national and regional levels for effective response to emerging security threats in the region.

“Governance and human security are at the core of the regional strategy which aims at making security a regional public good and an essential service for citizens, as well as a vital element in achieving sustainable development,” Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman said in Banjul, The Gambia, Thursday.

PANA reports that Commissioner Suleiman spoke at the opening of an Experts Inter-governmental Meeting on the Validation of the ECOWAS Regional Policy Framework on Security Sector Reform and Governance (SSSR/G).

In the address read by the Head of Division, Regional Security, Col. Abdourahmane Dieng, the Commissioner said “the development of this document is timely, given that our region is facing many political, security and humanitarian challenges resulting from internal conflicts.

“The role of ECOWAS has thus 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.”

She said the objective is also to establish a tripartite social contract involving the political class, the defence and security sector and the people through several security oversight mechanisms and institutions.

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.”

She emphasised that the ECOWAS Vision 2020 strategy which seeks to transform the region for an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of people “clearly identifies security governance as one of its building blocks,” adding that this vision and the goals of regional development and integration “can be achieved only in an environment of lasting peace, security and political

Declaring the two-day meeting opened, Gambia’s Interior Minister Ousman Sonko 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”.

Describing the ECOWAS 2001 Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance as the “bedrock for civilian control of the armed forces and security services in the region,” the Minister explained that “democratically run, accountable and competent security sectors help to reduce conflicts, enhance security of citizens, and in the process help to create the necessary conducive
environment and sustained peace and stability.”

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 has been under development since 2009 with the support of German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ), the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), the International Security Sector Advisory Team (ISSAT), the Regional Office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), experts from the African Security Sector Network (ASSN) and the West African Network for Security and Democratic Governance (WANSED).

The document has been reviewed by the relevant ECOWAS Directorates and international independent experts and will later be presented to the Mediation and Security Council for validation after the Banjul meeting.
-0- PANA SEG 23May2014

23 mai 2014 09:33:04

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