By Temitope Ponle
The United Nations has described the West African region as shining example of peace consolidation and democracy on the continent making the positive role of ECOWAS recognised.
Mr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General said this at the 54th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS of Heads of State and Government in Abuja on Saturday.
Chambas, who is also the Head of the UN Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), said significant progress had been made in the ECOWAS region.
“The past months have witnessed the successful conduct of elections, contributing to the progress the sub-region is making in consolidation of democracy.
The envoy, however, called on member states to intensify efforts to address “contentious issues” to prevent and mitigate election-related violence, human rights abuses and promote respect for the rule of law.
“Peace and security remain under threat, including an increasing number of terrorist attacks, the consequences which have a direct impact on development.
“We must intensify our efforts to reverse the trend. Conflicts between farmers and herders are among threats to peace and stability in the sub-region.
“The implementation of measures taken at the ECOWAS ministerial meeting of April 26 on this issue, will prevent and peacefully resolve these conflicts,” he said.
He also urged member states to strengthen efforts to ensure greater representation of women and youth in decision making positions across the region to harness its full human resources potential.
Chambas further called for enhanced collaboration to implement regional strategies to promote peace and stability in the region.
“Other significant challenges in the sub-region, for which concerted efforts are required, include Security Sector Reform, maritime piracy, drug-trafficking and transnational organised crimes,” he said
He reiterated the commitment of the UN in the promotion of inter-regional cooperation.
In his address, President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Brou, lauded the efforts made in the development of the region.
Brou further urged member states to consolidate efforts to address challenges and promote peace and security in the region.
“Despite these undeniable advances, our community faces significant challenges.
“It is for us to continue to consolidate our Customs Union and common market, to deal with extremism and terrorism and to fight effectively against the effects of climate change on our economies.
“Employment, especially for young people, remains a priority for each of our member states. As in the past, these challenges will be overcome only in the solidarity and cohesion that have characterised our organisation since its creation,” he said.
The summit would consider the reports on ECOWAS Single Currency, the political situation in Guinea Bissau and Togo and any other business.
The Heads of State would also sign Community Acts and Decisions and consider the Annual Report of ECOWAS, reports of the 41st Ordinary Meeting of the Mediation and Security Council and the 81st Session of the ECOWAS Council of Ministers.