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25 juin 2024
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The ECOWAS Commission is laying the foundation for the establishment of an Economic, Social and Cultural Council in West Africa (ECOSOCC-WA) with a regional consultative meeting of civil society organisations, commencing on the 22nd of February 2024 in Abuja, Nigeria.

The two-day meeting, is meant among others, to re-awaken the civil society engagement in the region and leverage its unique position for the enhancement of citizens’ inclusion in governance, among others.  One of the remarkable provisions of the ECOWAS revised treaty of 1993 clearly states the need for the regional organisation to revitalise its commitments with Civil Society.

In his keynote address during the opening of the consultative meeting, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner of Political Affairs, Peace and Security Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah, outlined the focus of the regional consultative phase in establishing an enduring and sustainable citizens’ council.

Stating that the regional organization is witnessing an existential threat accentuated by a withdrawal decision by three ECOWAS Member States, he expressed the optimism that with the necessary strategic communication, an ECOSOCC-WA would be able to deal with the issues of shifting targets regarding regional programmes and vision.

Commissioner Musah reflected on the gaps in the relations between the governing elite and the people, in the face of decaying regional infrastructure. He also noted that the broad range civil society is inclusive of wide ranging citizens’ representatives’ platforms, traditional institutions as well as religious and community leaders just as it has become imperative to take a close look at the United Nations ECOSOCC and adapt its workable elements to ECOSOCC-WA.

We need to create the environment for our professionals to thrive and it is civil society that can help us to do this” He added.

Apart from the goodwill message from the African Union (AU) ECOSOCC secretariat delivered by its policy Officer Mr. Bright Sefah, other messages which encouraged synergies came from the ECOWAS’ Director of Peace keeping and Regional Security (DPKRS) Dr Cyriaque Agnekethom and his counterpart  from the Directorate of Humanitarian and Social Affairs Dr. Sintiki Ugbe.

On his part, the head, liaison office of the United Nations Office for West Africa (UNOWAS) Dr. James Aji also expressed optimism that through ECOSOCC, the dream of an ECOWAS of the people would become a reality with the support of the continental and global bodies.

The lead consultant for establishing the process and former Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission Toga Gayewea McIntosh presented the Framework of the ECOSOCC-WA as well as lessons learnt.

The consultative meeting is featuring intensive group deliberations on foundational framework and structures, budgetary requirements, membership, transitional arrangements, nature and contents of required documents, work programme as well as initial staff requirements.

The implementation roadmap and recommendations from the meeting which is being supported by the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), would be pushed through the ECOWAS hierarchy for endorsement and eventual launch by the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government.


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