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n African Security Review - From a security complex to a security community : West Africa : essay

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Abstract

In the post-Cold World era, West Africa, like most other regions of the world, experienced significant shifts in its approach to, and understanding of security. The outbreak of brutal domestic conflicts in the sub-region and ECOWAS's subsequent deployment of its peacekeeping force, ECOMOG, marked a turning point in the sub-region's attempt to develop a security architecture that began in the 1970s. This paper argues that in the post-Cold War era, West Africa is in the process of evolving from a security complex to a security community. The inter-linked nature of the conflicts in the Mano River basin reinforced the security interdependence of member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). These factors, coupled with the close cultural and historical ties, geographical proximity qualifies West Africa as a security complex. The adoption of the ECOWAS Protocol on Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution and Peacekeeping, the supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and the ECOWAS Moratorium on Small Arms and Light Weapons are clearly aimed at the institutionalisation of conflict resolution mechanisms - a move away from the ad hoc approach of the 1990s. If the democratic peace theory holds true (that democracies do not fight each other), one could make the argument that democracies do not harbour dissidents from neighbouring states. Hence, the development and consolidation of a democratic ethos in the sub-region would lead to the eventual development of a security community.

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/content/isafsec/14/2/EJC47261
2005-01-01
2016-12-05
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