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ECOWAS, once an assertive power in West Africa, reduced to a paper tiger?

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  • Kohnert, Dirk

Abstract

Economic integration among West African member states was the original mandate of ECOWAS. Threats to development, peace and security led the community to expand its mandate to include conflict management. ECOWAS has established a commendable record in peacekeeping. Its intervention in Liberia ended the conflict. In Sierra Leone, it provided the necessary support to the legitimate government, but in Guinea Bissau, it failed to stop the violence. In 2004, ECOMOG was replaced by the ECOWAS Standby Force (ESF), made up of military, police and civilian personnel. As part of its missions, ECOWAS has implemented conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms outlined in its Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF). However, the organisation relies on its member states to achieve its objectives. Unfortunately, the latter is mostly characterised by a lack of political and financial commitment. In recent years, ECOWAS has focused on counter-terrorism strategies. However, these too have been hampered by capacity constraints, the persistence of a socioeconomic environment increasingly conducive to religious fundamentalism and extremism, and varying levels of political will and commitment. The ECOWAS institution's conflict prevention tools are currently stronger than its conflict management tools. At present, the ESF lacks the logistical and financial capacity for military deployment. Nigeria, the main troop and financial contributor, was supposed to provide more than half of the pledged ESF troops. But it has internal security challenges of its own. It is therefore doubtful that it could spare its pledged troops for an ESF mission. All this suggests that ECOWAS, once a force to be reckoned with in West Africa, has been reduced to a paper tiger. It's warning to intervene, by military force if necessary, in the current conflict in Niger, where a coup has overthrown the legitimate government, was reckoned as an empty threat. Especially since the coup leaders in Mali, Niger and Guinea have been backed by Russia.

Suggested Citation

  • Kohnert, Dirk, 2023. "ECOWAS, once an assertive power in West Africa, reduced to a paper tiger?," MPRA Paper 118191, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:118191
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kohnert, Dirk, 2022. "The impact of Russian presence in Africa," MPRA Paper 112554, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Kohnert, Dirk, 2024. "Prospects and challenges for the export of rare earths from Sub-Saharan Africa to the EU," MPRA Paper 119745, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    2. Kohnert, Dirk, 2024. "Perspektiven und Herausforderungen für den Export seltener Erden aus Afrika in die EU [Prospects and challenges for the export of rare earths from Sub-Saharan Africa to the EU]," MPRA Paper 119844, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Kohnert, Dirk, 2024. "Perspectives et défis pour l'exportation de terres rares d'Afrique subsaharienne vers l'UE [Prospects and challenges for the export of rare earths from Sub-Saharan Africa to the EU]," MPRA Paper 119767, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    ECOWAS; ECOWAS Standby Force; coup d'état; governance; sustainable development; post-colonialism; informal sector; ODA; Sub-Saharan Africa; West Africa; Mali; Niger; Guinea; Nigeria; France; African Union; EU; African Studies;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F15 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Economic Integration
    • F35 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Foreign Aid
    • F51 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Conflicts; Negotiations; Sanctions
    • F52 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - National Security; Economic Nationalism
    • F54 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Colonialism; Imperialism; Postcolonialism
    • H12 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - Crisis Management
    • H56 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - National Security and War
    • K42 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior - - - Illegal Behavior and the Enforcement of Law
    • N47 - Economic History - - Government, War, Law, International Relations, and Regulation - - - Africa; Oceania
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

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