ECOWAS has organized the fourth (4th) retreat of the ECOWAS Permanent Representative Committee (PRC) under the theme “Peace and Security Challenges in a Changing Region”.
The one-week event, which was held in Lagos, Nigeria from the 6th – to 11th of June 2022, was attended by representatives of the ECOWAS Commission as well as the ECOWAS Permanent Representative Committee (PRC).
In his opening remarks, the President of ECOWAS Commission, H.E Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, who was represented by the Director of External Relations, Mr. Kouassi Jerome Boa, welcomed all to the 4th Retreat of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) held in Lagos, a city of significant importance to ECOWAS being the location where the Treaty that established ECOWAS was signed on the 28th May 1975.
He also expressed his appreciation to H.E Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the Executive Governor of Lagos State for graciously agreeing to host this meeting and the Chair of PRC from the Republic of Ghana, H.E Rashid Bawa, for his sterling leadership for the past two years.
Commending the theme of the retreat “Peace and Security Challenges in a Changing Region” as apt given the political and security challenges that our region is currently facing. He states “As the storms of Covid-19 were tailing off, the region began to witness coup d’états in some Member States, in particular, in Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso.
With a view to resolving these issues, and ensuring that these countries return to constitutional democratic order, the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government not only imposed sanctions on Mali, Guinea-Bissau and Burkina Faso, the Authority also embarked on diplomatic initiatives and appointed Special Mediators to these countries”.
He urged members of PRC to identify issues of regional concern, discuss policies to address these political crises, reflect on best practices on regional and national peace initiatives and mechanisms and chart a clear direction for the inclusion of PRC in the ECOWAS Institutional Reforms and Programmes.
On the overview of the 3rd PRC meeting and its accomplishments, the committee recommended that continuous dialogue should be encouraged between PRC members and the ECOWAS Commission; regular evaluation of the trade liberalization scheme should be pursued and country reports should be made available to PRC Members to enable proper follow-up.
While discussing security sector governance and reform in the region, the Committee noted the conduct of peaceful and transparent elections in the Republics of the Gambia and Cabo Verde while decrying the reversal of democratic gains through coup d’etat in Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso.
They however recommend that the proposed reforms on the 2001 supplementary protocol on Good Governance should be expedited and adopted by the Authorities and concerted efforts must be made to address root causes of instability and insecurity in ECOWAS in order to consolidate peace and prevent relapse into violence.
They also encouraged a combination of transformation change and political leadership in the region to achieve sustainable growth and development.
On the implications of lack of good governance in the region, the committee extensively discussed the causes and recommended that Member States should encourage good governance through the setting up of mechanisms to combat corruption and nepotism; encouraged the ratification of the revised ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance; prevented attempts of constitution manipulation and tenure elongation while promoting freedom of expression; tackled hate speech and misinformation; promoted inter-political party dialogue and mediation during elections among others.
During the discussion on ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, the Committee recommended that PRC members should sensitize their respective national governments on the supplementary protocol; review the effectiveness of the sanction regimes and PRC Involvement in the mediation efforts of Member States that witnessed coups.
Other recommendations of the Committee include the recognition of PRC as an advisory organ in the ECOWAS decision-making process; the involvement of PRC in the monitoring and implementation of ECOWAS activities and devolution of more powers to the PRC in the agenda process of Statutory meetings.
The week-long retreat ended on Thursday, June 9, 2022, with closing remarks by the High Commissioner of the Ghana High Commission and Chairman of the PRC, H.E. Rahid BAWA, who expressed gratitude to all the participants and staff of the ECOWAS Commission who worked hard to make the event possible.