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N°: 009/2014
5 February 2014 [Akosombo-Ghana]


The President of the ECOWAS Commission, His Excellency Kadré Desire Ouédraogo has called on partners and stakeholders to undertake a “sober reflection, healthy debate, and open self-criticism” of the ECOWAS interventions in Mali with a view to helping the organization and the region “to improve their conflict management and resolution capacity.” “Within this context, the criticisms leveled against parties are not meant to slight them or to diminish the immense contributions they have made, and continue to make towards the stabilization of Mali and the preservation of regional peace and security” but intended to “elicit an open and frank debate towards the formulation of workable recommendations,” he told an experts’ review meeting which opened in Akosombo, Ghana on Tuesday 4th February 2014, on ECOWAS’ initiatives and responses to the recent security, political, and institutional crises in Mali. The main objective of the meeting, which is being attended by experts on regional political and security matters, social and humanitarian affairs, diplomacy and communication, as well as representatives of partners, Civil Society organizations, research institutions and Centers of Excellence, is to dissect ECOWAS’ multifaceted interventions before and during the Malian crises with the purpose of drawing appropriate lessons for the future. President Ouédraogo said the meeting organized by the ECOWAS Commission in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, is not intended to “celebrate our achievements in Mali,” but rather to engage partners and stakeholders” with a view to improving the anticipatory and response postures of the ECOWAS system to current and emergent crises in the Region. While noting that the preliminary conclusions of an ECOWAS internal review held in November 2013 in Lagos had “revealed considerable shortcomings in aspects of the Community’s strategic, political, diplomatic, military and institutional approaches and arrangements to the crises in Mali,” the President said the After-Action Review exercise, should come up with recommendations to “strengthen and operationalize the ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture in the areas of Early Warning, Preventive Diplomacy, and particularly in the operationalization of the ECOWAS Standby Force.” In her keynote address, Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Mrs. Hannah Serwah Tetteh, said that Mali “provided us with a wake- up call with a mixed bag of experiences.” “As we work through a conflict-free Africa by 2020; as the UN prepares to mainstream peace, rule of law and governance into the post-2015 development agenda, this critical exercise of after crisis review on Mali should be made to generate synergies towards building resilience in our respective local communities, countries and the region as a whole,” the Minister affirmed. To this end, she called for the “sharpening of relevant coordination mechanisms,” including a strategic communication strategy, relevant incentive mechanisms for individuals and institutions (champions or partners for peace) in our states and at the ECOWAS level.” The minister charged the experts to consider for instance, the establishment of “an award system in any of our Member States or at the ECOWAS level for human and institutional enablers of peace and development,” saying this is as an area where the private sector and civil society or strategic partners “can help deliver to our peoples as an incentive to stay on tract and encourage others to emulate.” The Chairman of the opening ceremony, Prof. Amos Sawyer, former President of Liberia’s Interim Government of National Unity, said “Mali is a success, but not without challenges,” using the opportunity to commend ECOWAS for its interventions supported by the international community in resolving the crises. Moving forward, he called for proper interrogation of the regional initiatives and responses with a view to ensuring that the region availed itself of the abiding lessons for the future. In her welcome address, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, said the Akosombo meeting “comes at a time when it is universally accepted that ECOWAS has achieved measurable successes in consolidating democracy and human rights, and stabilizing the peace and security environment in the West African region over the past two decades.” While acknowledging that “the peace and security situation in the region and Africa as a whole remains fragile,” the Commissioner expressed optimism that the experts “will come up with a realistic and sustainable framework for enhancing cooperation and coordination with Member States, the African Union, and other critical stakeholders in the service of peace and security in Africa.” The Akosombo workshop, whose outcome is expected to feed into the meeting of the Technical Committee of Political Affairs and ECOWAS Ambassadors in Accra, 10-11 February 2013, received goodwill messages from the African Union, the European Union, the United Nations and the West African Civil Society Forum, among others.

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