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ECOWAS seeks collective ownership of security sector reforms

Abuja, 19th of June 2016. The collective ownership of the ECOWAS-driven Security Sector Reforms and Governance (SSRG) by relevant Directorates and Departments as well as Sister Agencies of ECOWAS is key in the regional efforts aimed at creating a more stable and peaceful West Africa.

At the inaugural meeting of the Interdepartmental Working Group (IWG) on Security Sector Reform and Governance (SSRG) which held in Abuja, Nigeria recently, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security Mrs. Halima Ahmed urged stakeholders in this regard, to be conscious of the link between peace, security and development and support coordinated, cross-cutting efforts which ensure that the reform process ultimately belong to the citizens of West Africa and not just the States.

The Commissioner stressed that through knowledge sharing and coordination, the IWG plays an essential role as the engine room that is expected to throw up proposals and solutions to Management.

She told conferees that the inauguration is a milestone in the realization of ECOWAS objectives in promoting regional peace and security, through support of the reform of the security sector in Member States with the IWG intended as ‘a key catalyst and an enabler’

The Commissioner highlighted Human Security and Conflict Prevention as the two key components of the ECOWAS Policy Framework for SSRG. She also emphasized that being essentially proactive, ECOWAS does not have to ‘wait for crisis to erupt and for the capacity of our security sector to fall short before we take steps to improve it’ with an SSRG in place.

Having adopted the Supplementary Act, then comes the important task of disseminating its enshrined principles and elements as well as supporting Member States to improve their security sectors. But the outlined tasks, according to the Commissioner, ‘cannot be performed by a single Division, Directorate or Department of the ECOWAS Commission acting alone’

For maximum impact and in order to support Member States, ECOWAS is also collaborating with partners on the SSRG, also with a view to leverage further on capacities outside of the regional community.

Disclosing that support to SSRG has been identified and proposed as a component of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), the Commissioner expressed gratitude to the development partners including the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ) and its Danish counterpart (DANIDA) as well as the United Nations for the support to the critical aspects of the SSRG in the face of the current efforts at mobilizing resources to advance its cause.

The Commissioner was supported by Head, Regional Security Division, Mr. Dieng Abdourahmane and his Peace Support Operation Division Colonel Ollo Alain Pale both of whom gave insights into the fundamental issues of understanding the SSRG, its terms of reference as well as the attainment of the desired cohesion and implementation ramifications.

The meeting featured a presentation on the status of the SSRG. There were also critical inputs by participants who were profoundly thanked at the end of the Meeting by the ECOWAS Director, Political affairs (DPA) Dr. Remi Ajibewa.

The participants included Directors and Representatives of relevant Directorates as well as Development Partners.

By its comprehensive nature, the SSRG also seeks to improve efficiency and effectiveness of efforts in counterterrorism and countering violent extremism, maritime security, control of small arms and light weapons, border security and cross-border initiatives, humanitarian assistance, peace support operations, combating transnational organized crime, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR), peace education (the culture of peace), women and youth empowerment, and democratic governance.

In line with the provisions of the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF), The Commission developed a Security Governance Framework and an Action Plan that takes into account peculiarities of the region in improving security delivery.

The ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, in fulfillment of this mandate, adopted the Supplementary Act on SSRG in Dakar, Senegal during its 49th Ordinary summit in June 2016. The Act provides the ECOWAS Policy Framework for Security Sector Reform and Governance.

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