OPENING CEREMONY OF THE WEST AFRICA PEACE AND SECURITY INNOVATION (WAPSI) FORUM
Wednesday 9th March 2022, Abuja, Nigeria
Speaking Points – European Union Head of Delegation
(Background information on the project and the WAPSI forum below)
President of the ECOWAS Commission,
Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission,
The German Ambassador,
Commissioners of various divisions of ECOWAS,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Representatives from civil society,
Members of the Private and Business Sector,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All protocol observed
- Throughout the world, pandemics are much more than a public health issue. They have a strong impact on human survival, livelihood and dignity. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. It has resulted in the loss of countless lives, and throughout West Africa, it has disrupted economies, and it has increased the vulnerabilities, especially for women, youth, people living with disabilities and displaced populations.
- At a time when the ECOWAS region has already been grappling with some of the most acute security challenges in the world, the pandemic has made it even more difficult for governments to deliver decent livelihoods and jobs to their populations. It is therefore not farfetched to think that the pandemic has been a factor to explain why West Africa has experienced a dramatic backsliding of democratic standards, including several military coups.
- This maiden WAPSI Forum therefore comes at the right moment. There is an urgent need to bring together experts from public health, security, and governance to think about innovative ways to address the impact that the pandemic has had on the region and to interrogate more broadly the intersections between health, human security and governance in the pandemic context.
- As one of the reports commissioned for this Forum shows, the pandemic has also further pushed citizens, civil society and experts to embrace innovative, tech-based approaches to respond to peace and security challenges.
- ECOWAS has a core role to play in both responding to the challenges posed by the pandemic and in seizing the opportunities in the fields of prevention, early warning and peacebuilding that have opened up over the last years.
- I therefore commend the ECOWAS Commission for this timely initiative urge all distinguished participants actively engage as you continue the conversation around developing innovative solutions to the emerging challenges to human security in West Africa.
Brief information on the EPSAO Project
In response to the challenges of various forms of armed conflict and insecurity in West Africa, institutions and member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have to collaborate to implement regional and continental conflict prevention strategies. It is against this background that the ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture and Operations (EPSAO) Project was commissioned in 2019 to support the ECOWAS Commission in its mandate to prevent and manage conflict and security threats in the region. The following four specific objectives are guiding the support: 1) Strengthen ECOWAS’ mechanisms to promote and maintain peace and stability and post crisis operations; 2) Enable ECOWAS to manage erupting or existing conflicts; 3) Contribute to the creation of a secure and safe post conflict environment; 4) Strengthen ECOWAS’ capacities to support non-violent and inclusive electoral processes. This involves, among others, activities in the areas of conflict analysis, early warning, dialogue, mediation, peace support operations, reform of the security sector, capacity building of civil society and national Electoral Management Bodies, including regarding the gender dimension of electoral processes. The project is co–funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and it is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ GmbH).
Brief information on the WAPSI Forum
In the midst of concerted efforts by various stakeholders to promote peace and security in West Africa, The ECOWAS Commission has developed several legal frameworks on peace and security which inform the areas of intervention by ECOWAS in Member States. However, in the face of a changing security landscape, we need more:
- Interdisciplinary exchange between an expert community, high level decision- makers, donors, think tanks, academia, civil society, the private sector, and the media
- Multi-level Forums that bridge high-level exchange, policy focus and innovation on key questions governing emerging human security policy in West Africa
It is on this basis that GIZ is supporting the ECOWAS Commission to develop an annual report on peace and security in West Africa to reflect and facilitate coordinated exchange and engagement on regional peace and security threats and to understand the broad range of multi-dimensional challenges induced by the pandemic.
The 2-day virtual forum provides an opportunity for the launch of the report and a platform for this interdisciplinary exchange with participants drawn from across the ECOWAS region.