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Sensitization Workshop for Media on the ECOWAS Early Warning

Apr 6, 2009, 8:17 AM

Sensitization Workshop for Media on the ECOWAS Early Warning

As part of the continuing efforts to enhance the effectiveness of its Early Warning System and, in particular, to boost media participation in the mechanism, the ECOWAS Commission held a two-day regional sensitization workshop for journalists from the public and private media from all 15 Member States at the Ivotel Hotel in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan.

The workshop was primarily to apprise the media about the work of the Commission's Early Warning Department in conflict prevention, and to solicit their cooperation in disseminating information provided.

Participants were also required to explore and recommend proposals on how the ECOWAS Commission could facilitate, not only the effective participation in the ECOWAS Early Warning and Response Network (ECOWARN), but more importantly, how it could do so creditably with information that is timely, accurate and reliable.

The workshop was formerly opened by the Ivorian Minister of African Integration, Mr Amadou Kone.

He underscored the importance of ECOWARN in providing the required environment for sustained development in the region.

The involvement in the resolution of numerous conflicts in our region distracts our community from its initial objective of economic development of member states through regional integration," he said, citing the cases of Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea Bissau and Cote d'Ivoire where ECOWAS had to deploy huge resources to maintain peace.

He stressed the importance of ECOWARN in generating and analyzing data to enable the authorities to take appropriate preventive measures against conflicts in member states.

For instance, Minister Kone said the signing of a political deal in Ouagadougou in March 2007 as part of the conflict resolution efforts, created a peaceful climate for the reconstruction of Cote d'Ivoire and that the country hopes to complete the peace process with elections this year.

He reiterated the obligation on the media to inform and educate citizens on issues relating to socio-economic development, particularly on security matters, because conflicts disorganize and hinder the entire system.

In his welcoming remarks, Colonel Yoro Kone, Director of the ECOWAS Early Warning Department (EWD) called for the prioritization and integration of peace as a natural phenomenon in the culture of the people, adding that peace cannot be imposed or forced on parties.

He called on non-state actors, including the media, to take ownership of the legitimacy of concretizing the political will of policy makers to ensure peace, security and integration among the people.

The Special representative of the ECOWAS President in Cote d'Ivoire, Ambassador Kehinde Olisemeka also underscored the importance of the workshop in creating awareness among the media, as necessary partners, on its role to contribute to public consciousness.

He urged the forum to examine challenges facing member countries and explore the extent to which the media has failed or succeeded in its responsibility of informing the people of certain volatile situations and flashpoints, both politically and socio-economically.