ECOWAS, WANEP Advocate Increased Synergy Towards Preventing Violent Extremism in West Africa

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was established by a treaty signed in Lagos

ABUJA – (ECOWAS Secretariat Report) – The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Network for Peace building (WANEP) have called for increased funding, information and intelligence sharing and synergy in cross-border security initiatives among Member States, in order to support the ECOWAS counter -terrorism strategy which seeks to prevent violent extremism in the region.

This was the outcome of deliberations during a policy dialogue meeting on the current dynamics and challenges of violent extremism in West Africa on 5th July 2018 in Abuja, Nigeria.

The ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security – General Francis Benhazin who was represented by the ECOWAS Standby Force Head of Regional Security – Colonel Dieng Abdourahmane stated during the meeting that a soft approach which involves the need to have a deeper understanding of the dynamics of violent extremism in the region remains the most potent and long term solution against violent extremism.

“We believe that the fight against violent extremism can only be successful through an integrated and comprehensive approach which ranges from local, state, national, regional, continental to global levels,” he said.

“If aptly implemented the prevention pillar of the counter terrorism strategy will address the drivers of violent extremism.”

The former ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Salamatu Suleiman, who was the Chairman of the meeting noted that good governance and sustainable development will help to address development deficits that mostly underline the emergence of violent extremist groups.

The Deputy Executive Director of WANEP, Levinia Addae-Mensah in her remarks mentioned that the terrorism being encountered in ECOWAS Member States such as Nigeria, Mali and Burkina Faso may have far – reaching consequences which could affect future generations. She said it had become important to create a platform to review and evaluate the various approaches to eradicating terrorism and violent extremism.

The policy dialogue meeting was held following a year-long research undertaken by WANEP to interrogate the root causes and dynamics of violent extremism in West Africa.

Also present at the meeting were the representatives of Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – Reacting to Early Warning and Response Data in West Africa (REWARD) initiative and Member States.