40 Years of ECOWAS (1975-2015)

Year : 2014

The book provides a very illuminating insight on the ECOWAS; its programmes, achievements, challenges and prospects within 40 years of its establishment. From the findings, it is clear that ECOWAS has made moderate progress on the accomplishment of its objectives. The authors, however, contend that the achievements could have been more substantial if the Heads of State and Government of the Community had the political will to implement agreed decisions, protocols and programmes. This issue of weak political will straddles nearly all the programmes of the Community as a militating factor. Thus, the book further posits that if the goals of the Community are to be realized in a significant way, the political leaders must muster the will to implement agreed protocols and programmes. The States must also be willing to cede part of their sovereignty to ECOWAS as a supra-national regional body seeking to promote integration and development of the sub-region. A substantial transfer of sovereignty to the Community will enable it to truly achieve regional integration by giving priority to the Community interest. The fact that the numerous attempts at formal regional integration have not resulted in significant results and impact is due, in part, to the reluctance of Member States to agree on how best to maintain their sovereignty within the organization. This issue will need to be adequately addressed in favour of ECOWAS. The book is structured into four sections and nineteen chapters contributed by accomplished researchers and policy makers.


Keywords: ECOWAS, political leadership, protocols, sovereignty, regional integration and development

Subject Area: ECOWAS and ECOWAS Parliament

Regional integration is now widely accepted as indispensable for expanding economic opportunities in Africa. African nations are vigorously pursuing an integration agenda in order to participate effectively in the globalization process. The 1993 Revised ECOWAS Treaty (ECOWAS Revised Treaty, 1993) requires, among others, the pursuit of economic integration for the realization of the AEC objectives, a movement towards a common market and an economic union [ECOWAS Revised Treaty, 1993: Article 2 (1)]. There is however, a huge information deficit in the ECOWAS region, regarding this ambition among Community, individual and corporate citizens. It is against this background that this chapter seeks to achieve the following objectives: to provide conceptual clarification of the following key terms: “economic integration”, “ECOWAS Community Law” and “Harmonization of laws”; to examine the nature and scope of the legal regime establishing ECOWAS as an institution to achieve regional economic integration; to highlight some successes in the implementation of the ECOWAS Establishment instruments; and to conclude with the way forward.

The main goal of the ECOWAS Commission is to implement the vision, mission and objectives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well as decisions arising from Community Acts and other legislation (ECOWAS Commission, 2015). This Chapter examines the importance of the facilitative role played by ECOWAS Commission within the broad contexts of regional integration, economic cooperation and peace building. This is undertaken within the context of the aspirations of the regional body (ECOWAS) as well as the circumstances under which the Commission rose to its present level of institutional prominence and position as the administrative engine of an increasingly complex, multilingual, multicultural intergovernmental bureaucracy. Significantly too, the Chapter equally scrutinises the role of the ECOWAS Commission in regional integration taking into cognizance the regional peace architecture along with the philosophical and strategic circumstances under which the Commission evolved.

This Chapter examines the centrality of boosting cooperation among states. Specifically, it looks at economic integration as a dynamic process that grows with time. It looks at best describes the process of integration, provides an overview of ECOWAS and then examines different aspects of the activities of the ECOWAS parliament including the challenges it has faced.

This chapter looks at Community Parliament as a critical institution of ECOWAS and provides an overview of its scope and powers which are largely consultative and advisory. Noting that ECOWAS Parliament does not have legislative powers that characterise normal parliaments. However, moves and efforts have been made since 2006 to empower the Parliament to make laws and perform oversight functions. In view of the historical evolution of the parliament and the steps that have been taken to date to enhance its powers from advisory to co decision-making, this chapter, therefore, seeks to examine the challenges of the proposed legal framework for the enhancement of the Powers of ECOWAS Parliament and provide a better understanding of political challenges within the institution. To this end, the chapter interrogates and answers the following questions: what are the main obstacles to the implementation of the recommendations of enhanced Powers of the ECOWAS Parliament; are the proposals for the enhancement of ECOWAS Powers realistic; who stands to lose if this proposal is implemented; wow can the fears of those sceptical of the enhanced powers of the ECOWAS Parliament be allayed; and what strategies should be devised to address this issue more effectively.

Based on popular accounts of the experience of European integration, particularly the role an audacious European Court of Justice (ECJ) played in driving integration in the early days through judicial-activism, judicial organs of integration communities are increasingly under pressure of expectation to take on roles that should significantly shape the direction of their respective communities. The ECOWAS Community Court of Justice (ECCJ) is one judicial organ that struggles under such a burden of expectation. While the ECCJ has been active in protecting human rights in recent times, most observers will conclude that it has not impacted integration in West Africa anywhere near as much as the ECJ has impacted on European integration. For some, by its growing involvement in human rights adjudication, the ECCJ may well have taken on a role that sends it in the wrong impact direction. The chapter argues that properly applied, the human rights competence of the ECCJ gives the Court an important role with a potentially huge impact on ECOWAS integration that is not sufficiently understood and appreciated.

This chapter is an assessment of the performance of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) in relation to its contribution to the overarching objective of promoting regional integration in West Africa, as pursued by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). In doing so, the chapter establishes the origins of GIABA and its mandate against which performance is measured. The subsequent analysis focuses on the context within which GIABA functions, its achievements so far, prevailing challenges and prospects for the future.

The 1990s unveiled difficulties in the management of health policies and programmes in ECOWAS Member States which led to the creation of the West African Health Organization (WAHO). Indeed, the 1987 Protocol instituting WAHO put an end to the incongruity between programmes being implemented by the two inter-governmental health organizations existing in the sub-region at the time. This chapter examines actions taken by WAHO as part of its strategy for preventing and managing health risks and epidemiological crises. How has WAHO managed to improve the health security environment in ECOWAS Member States in spite of linguistic differences and socio-economic peculiarities? This study seeks to provide answers on the role of WAHO through an analysis of its missions and structures (Section 1), programmes and actions (Section 2) and challenges inherent in the proper functioning of WAHO’s regional health system (Section 3).

The ECOWAS Free Movement Protocol of 1979 has developed into one of the cornerstones upon which the whole regional integration agenda has come to rest. The sub-regional body identified and leveraged on migration as nexus between development, trade and integration to deploy various instruments to encourage mobility of persons and goods within the region. It, therefore, has encouraged regular migration amongst community citizens, within and outside the sub-region. This Chapter assesses the ECOWAS Free Movement and posits that although there has been significant progress made in the implementation of the Protocol, free movement of persons and goods within the sub-region has not been fully achieved. Key factors among which are weak political support, poor funding by Member States and non-implementation of protocols; incompatibilities in immigration and customs policies; monetary zones; and more importantly, political instability in the region, often involving armed conflicts. In spite of ratifying the protocol which ushered in the free movement of persons in the sub-region, several border checks continue to exist. This has hampered free movement and has resulted to severe harassment and extortion of money from traders, investors and other travellers by the security personnel at the numerous checkpoints in the sub-region.

To enhance liberalisation of trade, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) under its Revised Treaty, 1993, adopted the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS). The Scheme provides for abolition, among member states, of customs duties levied on imports and exports, and the abolition of non-tariff barriers with a view to establishing a free trade area within the sub-region. This chapter provides a critical assessment of the performance of the ETLS and challenges which create significant gaps between set targets and achievements. There is less controversy on the issue of appropriateness of the Scheme. However, the Scheme has not performed optimally. The search for the causes of underperformance and solutions to improve performance have attracted the attention of researchers in recent times. This chapter is an attempt to contribute to the debate. Towards this end, some pertinent questions are asked. What is the level of implementation of the Scheme? What obstacles limit full implementation? What has the Commission done to remove the obstacles and how effective have been the interventions? What should be done to improve implementation in the years ahead? Is there any role for the legislature in the process? This chapter attempts to provide answers to the questions above bearing in mind the broad objectives of the Scheme notably entrenching free trade flow in the sub-region and ultimately progress from a free trade area to a full customs union and a common market to facilitate trade.

The ECOWAS heads of states and governments adopted the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programme (EMCP) in 1987. The main objective of the MCP is to promote a harmonized monetary system that would support the sustainable growth of the economies in the ECOWAS zone. Through the EMCP, the sub-region is expected to achieve a common convertible currency that would subsequently be managed by a common central bank. In light of the foregoing, this study attempts to assess the monetary integration efforts in ECOWAS with the view to documenting its achievements, identifying its major challenges and proposing intervention strategies to address some of the challenges. The study is divided into five sections: the introductory section closely followed by section two which identifies the articulated road map for the monetary integration in ECOWAS, section three analyses its success and gives the challenges and opportunities of the programme, section four proposes some intervention. Section five concludes the study.

ECOWAS engagement on the questions of peace and security is explained by the fragility of the security context of the sub-region which is characterized by crises, civil wars, multiple violence, acts of piracy and territorial menaces. If at the beginning, no disposition had been taken in the framework of ECOWAS foundation treaty, the necessity to create an environment of peace and confidence, as a preamble to regional integration, had been quickly felt and it led to putting in place adequate normative and institutional frameworks in order to legitimise its interventions, in case of need for force in the States without consulting the peaceful modes of conflicts resolution. Due to the fact of bringing back and processing peace among the Member-States that fall prey to violence, ECOWAS has taken several actions in the sub region. It started in Liberia which was shaken by civil war in December 1989 when the West African leaders gained their first experience in the matter of conflict resolution. It was then extended to Sierra Leone in 1991, Guinea Bissau in 1998, and Liberia again in 2003 and finally in Cote d’Ivoire in 2003. From these interventions, and the results, ECOWAS has cut the image of an organization torn between successes and failures. For almost a decade, the multiple efforts made by ECOWAS in relation to peace are being compromised by new threats commonly called “Emergent Security Menaces” (ESM), like terrorism in all its forms constituting serious and real challenges in matters of defence and security in West Africa. But due to the determination and the tenacity of ECOWAS to promote peace, new hopes are discernible to the total happiness of the citizens of the Community. Notwithstanding, the African leaders must take into consideration the problems of the youth and the poverty of certain layers of the population through the practice of good governance among the States.

Many initiatives undertaken by ECOWAS, over the last two decades, have brought relative stability to the West African sub-region, considered rightly or wrongly as the powder keg of Africa. In the framework of democracy and good governance, the said initiatives have achieved mixed results despite the adoption, in 2001, of the Additional Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance. An assessment of ECOWAS initiatives on Democracy and good governance indicates some progress made but also some setbacks, considering the example of the recent elections in Nigeria which gives evidence of political maturity of the Member States on the one hand, and the sensitive situation in other states such as Burkina Faso, where many equations need to be solved. Certainly, many difficulties punctuated the implementation of different mechanisms along the way; however, they do not allow pessimism in the resolute ascension towards full and successful integration. Consequently, there are rather promising and good prospects in light of efforts to make adjustments for those who understand that there are stages which have been crossed for, “after darkness comes light.”

This chapter examines ECOWAS legal and policy mechanisms for managing energy and natural resources in six major steps. After setting the agenda for discourse in Section 1, Section 2 attempts to clarify the phrases, “energy and natural resource” and “Law and Policies” within the context of ECOWAS. Section 3 is an overview of the energy and natural resources of the ECOWAS region, which together with the crucial clarification of terminology provided in Section 2 now set the stage for an analysis of relevant ECOWAS law and policies regulating the management of energy and natural resources in Section 4. Section 5 examines the implementation of ECOWAS law and policies regulating the management of energy and natural resource. Section 6 is a summary of the major findings with recommendations.

This study evaluates the political integration of ECOWAS taking into consideration its performances and challenges. The analysis of the judicial framework of ECOWAS affords the opportunity to state that it is a system that has witnessed an improved institutional architecture in the course of time and has also set up community standards that have supported significant advances in the sub regional process of integration. However, a good number of obstacles also constitute challenges which have to be overcome by the organization in order to attain its ideal height. The rest of the chapter is organized into two major sections. Section 1 examines different aspects of the integration process including institutional architecture, and the different protocols and texts relating to political integration, while section 2, discusses the progress and challenges of regional integration in the sub-region

Economic cooperation and Integration represents a least-cost way for countries to achieve rapid economic development. The West African experience has been a journey plagued with several problems. The realization of the ultimate objective has been obfuscated by incessant political and civil crises, often leading to a slowdown of intent. The coming of the ECOWAS Vision 2020 signaled a strategic intent that would ensure that the development of ECOWAS takes place in an orderly systematic manner. This chapter examines the key issues in the ECOWAS cooperation and agenda during its 40 years of existence. It presents a description of its pathway and catalogues the major challenges, with lessons for the future. The chapter notes that the ECOWAS Vision 2020 can serve as a veritable instrument for the orderly development of the West African region as anecdotal evidence suggests and calls for the sustenance of the current integration momentum.

The Chapter examines the role and nexus between legislative drafting offices as the necessary institutional arrangements and platform for promoting professionalism, specialisation, knowledge-sharing with the ultimate goal of improvement of legislation. This study scrutinizes the veracity of the assertion that “Bad legislation leads to vague, conflicting, inaccurate provisions … wounds public support to the cause of European (and, by extension, ECOWAS) integration”. Conversely, it argues that good legislation could serve as a catalyst for regional integration within the European Union (EU) and by extension the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which is arguably modelled after the institutions of the EU. This is so if we follow the logic that legislation is a product of the legislative drafting process which is undertaken by legislative drafting offices (which are currently non-existent within the EU and ECOWAS). This chapter seeks to argue that legislative drafting offices are critical and fundamental to promoting regional integration within the ECOWAS. In order to arrive at this conclusion, the chapter undertakes a modest comparative analysis of the institutional arrangements for legislative drafting within the EU as primary comparator. Vital lessons would also be distilled from the models of legislative drafting of national governments and intergovernmental organisations as secondary comparators.

This chapter highlights key conclusions of the reviews and analyses of the different aspects of ECOWAS, particularly, the institutions and major programmes. An overview of the conclusions is first provided, followed by highlights of the constraints and challenges. Thereafter, conclusions on specific issues are highlighted. Suggestions/recommendations are embedded in the conclusions.

  • Ladi Hamalai

  • Mike Obadan