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ECOWAS In The Process Of Setting Up The West African Economic, Social And Cultural Council.

ECOWAS In The Process Of Setting Up The West African Economic, Social And Cultural Council.

Princess-Ekwi Ajide

As part of the process of setting up the West African Economic, Social, and Cultural Council, experts from various ministries of the economy/finance, social affairs, culture, and the private sector, think tanks, governance, peace, and security from the ECOWAS Member States are meeting in Cotonou, Benin.

The meeting, aimed at examining and validating the relevant structures and processes to make the platform operational, is initiated by the ECOWAS Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security, as Civil Society Organisations, CSOs, and the private sector need the platform to play a more active role in the realisation of ECOWAS Vision 2050, “ECOWAS of the Peoples: Peace and Prosperity for All”.

The ECOWAS Vision 2050, aims to establish a solid foundation for achieving an “ECOWAS of the people” where civil society organisations (CSOs) play a fundamental role in conflict prevention and peacebuilding in the region.

ECOWAS, in 2021, in partnership with the United Nations (UNOWAS and UNDP New York), jointly implemented a project entitled “ECOWAS (Post) Vision 2020: Strengthening regional capacities for conflict prevention” which in part, recommended the need to speed up the establishment of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council for West Africa, ECOSOCC-WA, to make the ESCC-WA operational in West Africa, hence the meeting in Cotonou.

At the opening ceremony, ECOWAS Resident Representative in Benin, Ambassador Amadou Diongue, on behalf of the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musah, said that this initiative marks a crucial step towards achieving a shared vision of an integrated and prosperous West Africa.

According to Ambassador Diongue, the creation of ESCC-WA has never been more urgent than at a time when the ECOWAS region is experiencing democratic and security setbacks and to remain in tune with the deep aspirations of the people of the community, it must work to conquer new frontiers, reach out to the people and work to meet their basic needs

A former Vice-President of the ECOWAS Commission, who is a resource person and facilitator for the meeting, Toga Gayewea Mcintosh, gave a brief overview of the history of ECOSOCC-WA, whose creation was decided in 1993 when the revised ECOWAS treaty decided to set up the six key ECOWAS institutions, including the Commission, the Parliament and the Court of Justice.

The meeting was officially launched by the Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to ECOWAS, Ambassador Musa Nuhu, who in his address, stressed the importance of the Economic, Social and Cultural Council, saying: “The ECOSOCC-WA is designed to improve the participation of civil society in the decisions taken in Member States, because CSOs have today become essential players in dealing with the growing instability in the region”.

At the end of the two-day meeting, the group of experts on the establishment of ECOSOCC-WA is expected to among others things, adopt a basic framework and structures for the effective operation of ECOSOCC-WA, including the drafting of a charter, statutes, and other documents that will govern the work of the institution in line with the changes made at the regional consultative meetings; produce a three-year work programme that will guide and consolidate the establishment process; draft an indicative budget over three years that will enable the establishment of ECOSOCC-WA and the implementation of the work programme.

Participants are also expected to propose a better understanding of the comparative advantages and strategic importance of ECOSOCC-WA in addressing the current and potential political and socio-economic challenges and complexities facing the ECOWAS region, and produce concrete documents with recommendations on the way forward to be presented at the ministerial meeting involving the ministers in charge of the economy, social and cultural sectors of Member States for validation and appropriate recommendations to be submitted successively for consideration and adoption at the statutory ECOWAS meetings which are the Administration and Finance Committee, AFC, the Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the Authority of Heads of State and Government.


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