ECOWAS: Uniting West African Nations for Conflict Resolution and Stability

ECOWAS: Uniting West African Nations for Conflict Resolution and Stability

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional bloc, convenes on Thursday following its recent threat to intervene in the Niger crisis, underscoring its emergence as a pivotal entity in the handling of regional conflicts.


Established in 1975 with the primary aim of fostering economic development among its 15 member nations, ECOWAS has since extended its involvement to conflict resolution in various contexts, ranging from Sierra Leone to Mali.

Origins and Membership of ECOWAS

Initially founded in 1975 to stimulate economic growth within its member states, ECOWAS is headquartered in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

Comprising 15 members, the organization includes Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo—all of which are predominantly French-speaking.

Additionally, there are English-speaking nations such as Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, as well as two Portuguese-speaking countries, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau.


Notably, some member states have faced sanctions or suspension due to military coups, including Burkina Faso, Guinea, Mali, and most recently, Niger.

Nigeria’s Dominance and Leadership

Within ECOWAS, Nigeria wields significant political and economic influence, accounting for over half of the bloc’s population and GDP.

Nigerian President Bola Ahmed Tinubu holds the position of ECOWAS president within the organization’s supreme decision-making body.

Evolving Objectives and Challenges

The founding Lagos treaty in 1975 sought to eliminate economic, political, and linguistic barriers to trade among ECOWAS member states.

However, the organization has had to recalibrate its economic ambitions over time.


The introduction of the Eco, a single currency scheduled for adoption by member countries in 2020, has encountered substantial challenges and is currently uncertain.

Increasing Political Impact

While ECOWAS scaled back its economic aspirations, it expanded its political influence by taking a proactive stance in conflict resolution throughout the region.

In 1993, the organization adopted a new statute officially entrusting it with responsibilities in preventing and resolving regional conflicts.

In 2004, West African military leaders endorsed the establishment of a 6,500-strong force, including a rapid intervention unit, designed for conflict scenarios.

A training initiative for peacekeeping operations was also instituted in 2005, spanning five years.


ECOWAS Interventions and Peacekeeping Efforts

ECOWAS played pivotal roles during the civil conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone, deploying a West African force in 1990 comprising several thousand personnel.

In 1997, the organization contributed significantly to achieving peace in Liberia.

Additional interventions include Guinea-Bissau, where ECOWAS intervened during an armed rebellion in 1998-99 and following a coup d’état in 2012.

The organization’s involvement extended to Ivory Coast in 2003 after a rebellion and a decade later to Mali, assisting the recapture of the northern region from jihadist control.

Moreover, ECOWAS intervened in The Gambia in 2017 when then-president Yahya Jammeh refused to relinquish power after losing elections.


In conclusion, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has transitioned from an organization primarily focused on economic development to a significant player in managing regional conflicts.

With its diverse membership and increasing political clout, ECOWAS has undertaken interventions and peacekeeping efforts across West Africa, contributing to peace, stability, and conflict resolution in the region.

Read More On The Topic On TDPel Media

Share on Facebook «||» Share on Twitter «||» Share on Reddit «||» Share on LinkedIn

Read Related News On TDPel Media

Advertisement: Download Vital Signs App (VS App)