With the objective of informing all stakeholders in the Ecowas region of the Security Sector Reform and Governance Policy Framework (SSRG), the Ecowas Regional Security Division (RSD) on November 11th, 2021 hosted an official launch ceremony in Abuja Nigeria.
Organised with the support of the GIZ- Ecowas Peace and Security Architecture and Operations (EPSAO), a regional project funded by the EU and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the launch event was attended by key stakeholders and relevant partners of the Ecowas Regional Security Division (RSD) including representatives of the EU, the German Government, High Commissioners of Ecowas Member States and relevant Ecowas directorates.
The launch event was also attended virtually by representatives from the African Security Sector Network (ASSN), the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance (DCAF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Gambia, the African Union Commission (AUC), the Special Representative of the President of the Ecowas Commission (SRPC) Office The Gambia, and the GIZ Police Programme in The Gambia.
Beyond launching the SSRG Policy Framework – a comprehensive report first signed and endorsed in June 2016 which promotes common security standards, the event also aimed at reiterating the commitment of Ecowas towards the dissemination and implementation of the SSRG within Member States. Furthermore, the launch ceremony served as a platform to commit to next steps towards the implementation of the Ecowas SSRG, facilitate dialogue with partners (as well as internally within Ecowas) on future actions for the full implementation of the SSRG, raise awareness of the public, the media, and the institutions active in Security Sector Reform and essentially raise the level of stakeholder engagement.
Reiterating the goal of the SSRG framework, Dr Isaac Armstrong, who represented the President of the Ecowas Commission, stated that SSRG primarily seeks to promote common security standards in the region, complement nationally led initiatives, and promote regional security coordination and cooperation to effectively tackle new and emerging security challenges. “The SSRG is not intended to replace a National Security Policy or nationally led initiatives to promote governance and reform of the security sector but to complement these,” he clarified. “With the available and comprehensive package of the SSRG report, we must now build on the momentum to support SSRG efforts in Member States.”
In her remarks, Ms Cécile Tassin-Pelzer, head of cooperation of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and Ecowas, acknowledged that the launch of the Ecowas SSRG Policy Framework came at a “turning point for the region as it will support sensitisation of stakeholders in the Member States beyond the security institutions – including civil society organisations, the media, think tanks, traditional and religious institutions which essentially contribute to creating a conducive environment for effective transformation and democratic reorientation of security Institutions.”
Ms Tassin-Pelzer also reminded stakeholders that “while we celebrate the progress made so far, it is important to remain honest about the work that still needs to be done”.
To buttress the points made by the speakers, Mr Bernt-Michael Gelpke, the political counsellor of the Germany Embassy highlighted that through the EPSAO project, the German government remains committed to contributing to the creation of a secure and safe post conflict environment in the Ecowas region by means of enhancing awareness and the implementation of the SSRG Policy Framework. “We are encouraged by the initial indications and possibilities of a safe and secure region as shown by the endorsement of the Policy Framework by Ecowas Members in June 2016 as well as the development of an implementation plan. In the past few years, we have also seen some Member States taking noble steps in developing national strategies to address problems associated to security sector governance in their respective countries,” he stated.
Mr Gelpke also used the opportunity to applaud the Ecowas Commission on its efforts to promote SSR and the launch of the policy while reminding stakeholders of the commitment of the German Government to continue to work along with the Ecowas Commission in supporting the SSR and Governance agenda, as part of the German Government’s efforts to foster security and development in West Africa.
After the official handover of the English, French and Portuguese versions of the Policy Framework, Mr Samuel Baah-Duodu, thanked the Ecowas Commission on behalf of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) and expressed the willingness of Ambassadors to contribute to the wide dissemination and use of the Ecowas SSRG Policy Framework within the Member States.