n Journal of African Foreign Affairs - Approaches and challenges in ECOWAS' security sector reform and governance in West Africa

Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 2056-564X
  • E-ISSN: 2056-5658


Prior to the efforts embarked upon by the African Union (AU) to set out its security architecture the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had been inundated with all sorts of security frameworks. These frameworks though focused on security and democratic governance but lack synergy between governance and reform. That is, though there exist security governance structures they are not embedded with the reform of security sector. While the AU acknowledged this lacuna and has been able to perfect and institutionalized its own Security Sector Reform framework but ECOWAS is unable to do so in spite of the fact that it started well-ahead of AU. Never the less it was good that AU achieved this fete as it is expected that it sets the guidelines for all the regional economic commissions in Africa to chart their SSR Frameworks. However, the delay for ECOWAS to complete the task of its security sector reform framework smacked on the legion of complex environment of conflict which it has found itself. This has been exacerbated by serial conflicts by the insurgencies in the sub region which its Mechanism for conflict prevention and resolution lacks the capacity to resolve. For instance the threats of insurgencies in Mali and Nigeria have persisted without concrete approaches to tackling them. Though for Mali crisis, the AU and UN have been able to tackle it with the support of foreign power such as France but the threat of Boko Haram in Nigeria has turned bizarre because the assumption that Nigeria has the capability to tackle the threat without external support has proved otherwise. These are the challenges that ECOWAS faces even as they have impact on the delay for ECOWAS to fashion its SSR framework. The paper attempts to explain the challenges and noted that for a SSR framework to be instituted in a conflict prone environment like ECOWAS it requires exceptional consultations and planning by all the stakeholders.

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