The Economic Community of Western African States, also known as ECOWAS, was established on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos. It is a regional group that includes 15 countries - Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’ Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo. It aims at promoting economic integration in all fields of activity of the constituting countries. The countries making up ECOWAS are considered to be one of the pillars of the African Economic Community and aims at achieving “collective self-sufficiency” for its member states. It also creates a single, large trading bloc through economic cooperation. The Vision of ECOWAS is to create an open region where people have access to its plentiful resources and can use these resources for creating opportunities under a sustainable environment. Its mission is to promote economic integration in all fields of economic activity, particularly industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial questions, social and cultural matters to raise living standards and promote economic development. It has created an integrated region where the people have access to efficient education and health systems. The people of this region also engage in economic and commercial activities while living in an atmosphere of peace and security. Constant efforts are being made to harmonize macroeconomic policies and promote the private sector towards achieving economic integration.
There are two sub-regional blocs of ECOWAS; First, The West African Economic and Monetary Union is an organization of eight, mainly French-speaking states. Second, The West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), established in 2000, comprises six mainly English-speaking countries. ECOWAS is meant to be a region governed by the principles of democracy, rule of law and good governance. It has also addressed some security issues by developing a peacekeeping force for conflicts in the region. Today, it is globally acknowledged as a successful regional body.
Recently, ECOWAS is in the news as it is helping to solve the crisis in Mali.
Mali gained independence from France in 1960. Since then there have been five coups, but only one peaceful transition from one democratically elected president to another. President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita was overthrown in the wake of mass anti-government protests. The army has now detained the President and the Prime Minister as the announcement of a new cabinet excluded two key military leaders. After a second coup by the military of Mali, ECOWAS has suspended the membership of Mali. All the nations had held a summit to discuss the situation of Mali, which was followed by the suspension of Mali. This suspension takes immediate effect till February 2022. The people of Mali have been warned to elect a new civilian Prime Minister within this time of suspension. The former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will be serving as a mediator during this period. The collaborators of ECOWAS are also lending a helping hand to Mali for a successful transition to the civilian government.
This article has been written by Sharon John for The Paradigm.
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