Africa Defense Forum
ADF is a professional military magazine published quarterly by U.S. Africa Command to provide an international forum for African security professionals. ADF covers topics such as counter terrorism strategies, security and defense operations, transnational crime, and all other issues affecting peace, stability, and good governance on the African continent.

ECOWAS and ‘The Pursuit of Peace, Security and Stability’

Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, a Gambian diplomat, was appointed president of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission in 2022. Previously, he was ambassador and permanent representative of The Gambia to the African Union and ambassador to Ethiopia. He spoke on May 28, 2023, to mark ECOWAS Day on the 48th anniversary of its founding. His remarks have been edited for space and clarity.

Every year on the 28th of May, we celebrate ECOWAS Day to honor the vision of our founding fathers and the huge sacrifice of our member states and citizens in creating a single socioeconomic and political space for peace and prosperity for all. 

For 48 years, our sense of community has remained solid in the face of challenges, and our commitment for inclusive and sustainable development has remained strong. We are grateful to our heads of state and government, who have maintained a resolute and consistent stance on the vision of our founding fathers, investing all the necessary resources to preserve the community, and for the solidarity for the advancement of our socioeconomic integration agenda and the pursuit of peace, security and stability. For the management of the ECOWAS institutions, the job is already cut out for us as the key issues confronting our region are palpable.

In the area of peace and security, [we] are confronted with the persistence of violent conflicts and terrorism. And we live daily with the sad news of loss of lives and property. We have seen many election cycles in our member states, but violence continues to mar the successes recorded. In Mali and Burkina Faso, the intensity of the violence is concerning. We condemn in strong terms the violence and sympathize with the affected families and the authorities. We reiterate our call for international support to our region in the fight against terrorism and other forms of organized crime. 

The humanitarian situation is growing worse because of not only the conflicts, but also climate change and environmental degradation. The global economic crisis, which manifests in the form of soaring prices of food and fuel, is another challenge that tests our resolve for collective security and self-reliance. 

On enhanced peace and security, we are implementing the ECOWAS Action Plan Against Terrorism and working to strengthen the ECOWAS Standby Force to support the fight against terrorism and unconstitutional changes of government. We are also tackling the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, enhancing the capacity of our member states against cyberattacks, and operationalizing the maritime security architecture with the full operationalization of the three maritime surveillance and patrol zones. 

For good governance and political stability, we have doubled our preventive diplomacy engagements in countries undergoing elections and sustained the monitoring of and support for the political transitions in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. 

Furthermore, we have focused more on improving food security, alleviating the plights of internally displaced persons and refugees in our region, and building transport and energy infrastructure to attain inclusive and sustainable development. Capable institutions and equitable partnerships are vital enablers of our work and performance. 

In addition, we are very grateful for the sustained support of our development partners. They have remained consistent in working with us to promote development and tackle challenges in various areas of mutual interest. We remain open to more collaboration and enhanced partnerships. 

Going forward, we intend to make our work more visible to our citizens, implement projects with direct impact on their lives and livelihoods, and become more accountable to our policy holders.

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