Ivorian minister urges harmonization of conflict prevention strategies in West Africa

Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire (PANA) - West African countries should harmonize their conflict-prevention strategies and instruments to enable them deal with various conflicts threatening peace and stability in the region, the Ivorian Minister of State in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Charles Koffi Diby, has advocated.

Opening a consultative meeting in Abidjan on Monday, on the establishment of National Early Warning Mechanisms in ECOWAS Member States, the minister said that as an instrument for anticipation and prevention, early warning capability will equip the states to respond adequately to developments with potential impact on peace and stability, thereby contributing to strengthening regional peace and security.

According to Diby, "This will also create a conducive environment for pursuing economic development and integration."

He blamed perennial conflicts in Africa, including the ECOWAS region, on “structural weaknesses, mainly poverty, inadequacies in our democratic practice and the lack of respect for human rights".

The minister said strengthening the prevention mechanisms would enable the region deal with the asymmetric and transnational crises experienced by the region most of which are rooted in domestic issues.

He said that as a country in the forefront of the promotion of peace and friendship, Cote d’Ivoire supports the creation of such a mechanism which would contribute to the reduction of conflicts and the institution of a culture of peace.

Earlier in an opening address, ECOWAS Commission’s Vice President, Dr. Toga McIntosh, described the timing of the meeting as “apt giving the prevailing security challenges in many of our countries”.

He cited the recent crises in Guinea Bissau and Mali, the insurgencies in Nigeria and the stabilization efforts in Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea and Liberia as reminders that ECOWAS needs to be constantly proactive in improving its strategies for creating the conditions required for peace, security, stability and development of the region.

“This is especially pertinent as newer security challenges such as transnational organized crime, including the phenomenon of terrorism, trafficking in persons, drugs and weapons as well as piracy and related maritime crimes confront our collective quest for collective human security,” Dr. McIntosh added.

He said the community had deployed enormous efforts to strengthen its peace and security architecture as evidenced by its strategic documents, including the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework of 2008, which represents the institutionalization of a paradigm shift from intervention to prevention.

This shift, the Vice President said, would enhance the instruments for anticipating and managing conflicts in a predictable, structured and effective manner.

He said that it was in response to the imperatives of this shift that the Commission’s Early Warning Directorate commissioned a pilot study in 2011 to “produce a draft policy proposal for the establishment and sustenance of conflict early warning mechanisms in Member States with linkages to the regional mechanism".

The study focused on strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities in three ECOWAS Member States, resulting in the recommendations for a bottom-up mechanism for enhancing national capabilities to engage in the prevention, management and resolution of low intensity conflicts that emphasize citizen engagement.

"ECOWAS driving principle is that sustainable conflict prevention rests with national actors,” the Vice President explained, adding that in the absence of pertinent structures in some Member States, the Commission seeks to stimulate the process by providing a draft policy framework for setting up Member States’ early warning structures.

The four-day meeting is being attended by 60 participants from Member States, the Commission, the African Union, the UN, and regional experts.
-0- PANA VAO 22Oct2013

22 october 2013 16:25:18

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