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Promoting conflict resolution in West Africa

Aug 30, 2016, 10:00 AM

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has had a very important workshop on conflict resolution and peace building in Dakar, Senegal, that ended last week.

The two-day convergence, which brought together more than 40 civil society organizations and ECOWAS officials, is dubbed ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF) and is held annually across West African countries.

Civil Society Organisations like the West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), the Kofi Annan International Peace-keeping and Training Centre (KAIPTC) and other institutions, were in attendance at the workshop, to look at issues of conflicts and how to prevent or tackle such eventualities in the region.

This conflict-prevention initiative would definitely not serve as a panacea to solving conflicts and ensuring peace in African countries. However, it would surely contribute substantially to finding solutions to conflicts, and putting in place preventive mechanisms that would help in reducing the incidence of conflicts in the region and on the continent.

The involvement of CSOs in the initiative makes it all the more viable, as they play very important role in conflict resolution and peace-building in the region.

Organisations like WANEP and KAIPTC are peace-building CSOs that are rendering essential service in preventing conflicts in Africa.

Teaming up with them, therefore, in a fashion as the ECPF is a logical step to alleviating the possibilities of regional, cross-border and internal strife or conflicts in African countries.

Founded in 1998 in response to civil wars that plagued West Africa in the 1990s, WANEP has over the years, succeeded in establishing strong national networks in every member state of ECOWAS with over 500 member organizations across West Africa.

WANEP “places special focus on collaborative approaches to conflict prevention, and peacebuilding, working with diverse actors from civil society, governments, intergovernmental bodies, women groups and other partners in a bid to establish a platform for dialogue, experience sharing and learning”, thereby complementing efforts at ensuring sustainable peace and development in West Africa and beyond.

In a similar vein, the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), established in 1998, in Ghana and started formal operations in 2002, provides training and research in peacekeeping and peace operations. It has ever since been expanding its courses to give meaningful and appropriate lessons on conflict resolution and peace building in the region.

ECOWAS has, therefore, taken appropriate steps in teaming up with the above-mentioned institutions to promote conflict resolution and peace-building in the sub-region.

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. ”

Dalai Lama