He was speaking recently in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoireas a representative of the president of Ecowas Commission, where Ecowas’ Early Warning and Response Agency, Ecowarn, concluded a day’s meeting with civil society organisations, subject matter specialists, and the media.
The meeting brought together West Africans delegates to map the way forward to bridge between early warning and response and for better collaboration with civil society in the Ecowas region.
Mr Coker said: “The timing of convening the meeting is pertinent as the political outlook in the region remains fragile. Member States continue to grapple with insecurity, terror stress and tensions ahead of demanding election cycle in 2015.”
He pointed out that the crisis in Mali and the Sahel, the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria, levels of political instability and social unrest among other threats are challenges that face the sub-region.
“Violent piracy still persists in the Gulf of Guinea requiring greater efforts to resolve maritime border activities, while the Ebola outbreak has also plunged the region into an unequal public health crisis,” he said.
According to him, the Ecowas commission has channelled more efforts to the strengthening of its peace and security architecture through a shift in focus from intervention to prevention, and having instruments for anticipating and managing conflicts in a predictable structured and effective manner.”
He continued: “Ecowas driving principle is that sustainable conflict prevention ultimately rests with national actors. Therefore the existence of such formidable national and local structures in various countries with formalised linkage to the Ecowas regional early warning centre at the commission headquarters in Abuja will enhance regional conflict prevention efforts and mitigate imagine human security threats. The project will set the last bridge for the realisation of the African Union continental early warning system.”
Dr Abdou Lat Gueye, Director of Early Warning Directorate of Ecowas, said after 10 years of operation, the Ecowarn system has identified its greatest challenge as being the gap between alert and response.
He added that the situation is exacerbated by the increased security and vulnerability risks associated with emerging threats.
He said: “The region has experienced varying degrees of conflict and insecurity caused by lack of pluralism, poor management of diversities, ethnic, religious, severe competition over scarce resources like minerals, land, water, timber and poor economic management.
”At country level, we had a network of field reporters using the Ecowarn field reporters now to be boosted with the involvement of research institutions and think-tanks.
“It seems that there are apparent structural deficiencies which have made much of the region particularly prone to the emerging threats. The vulnerabilities have been identified as weak border control system leading to porous territorial boundaries, the inability of criminal justice and information cooperation-sharing among relevant national agencies as well as limited institutional cooperation across borders with neighbouring countries.”]]>