The ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture and Operations Project holds Its third Steering Committee Meeting Abuja, 31st August, 2021. The third Steering Committee Meeting of the ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture and Operations (EPSAO) Project held virtually on 31st August, 2021. The Steering Committee is to assess Annual Progress of the EPSAO project, approve the work plans and budget for year 2021, and review the issues requiring strategic guidance and direction from the Committee to overcome challenges for successful project implementation. In her welcome address, while expressing the gratitude of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission for supporting the mandate of ECOWAS on Peace, Security and Economic Integration; H.E. Madam Finda E.M. KOROMA (Vice President of the ECOWAS Commission) on behalf of H.E Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, stated that: ‘’The EPSAO programme is preparing for a mid-term evaluation. It is therefore up to the Steering Committee to give the green light for the start of the process and to ask for the full support of all stakeholders on all sides, for its successful completion. This process will help to measure the progress already made and to formulate recommendations to fill the gaps which will be observed in order to ensure the achievement of the objectives of the project and its impact on regional security”. Recognizing the long-standing partnership between Germany and ECOWAS and the importance of the ECOWAS Peace and Security and Operations Project, Susanne Schröder, Head of Cooperation at the German Embassy to Nigeria and ECOWAS stressed that: “Peace and security issues and efforts to further strengthen ECOWAS leadership in stabilizing the West African region and seeking the peaceful resolution of conflicts have emerged over the last years as an important cornerstone of our cooperation”. She also indicated some positive impacts relating to the EPSAO project:
The early warning centres in Sierra Leone and Guinea
The ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions, ECONEC post-election follow up mission to The Gambia and Liberia, and its efforts to introduce Gender Units in the Electoral Management Bodies across the region.
According to the Head of cooperation at the German Embassy in Nigeria and ECOWAS, these are promising signs, but much remains to be done. Representing the European Union (EU) Delegation to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and ECOWAS, Clement Boutillier, Head of Section, Democracy, Governance and Migration, while stressing the importance of the EPSAO project for the European Union, stated that: “EPSAO is aimed at strengthening the capacities of ECOWAS, its Member States and civil societies across the entire range of conflict prevention and management instruments, from improving the training standard of the ECOWAS Standby Force to promoting ECOWAS Security Sector Reform Policy and from strengthening the ECOWAS early warning system to supporting ECOWAS efforts to guarantee peaceful elections’’. As Chairman of this third Steering Committee Meeting, the Director of Peacekeeping and Regional Security, Dr Cyriaque stressed that ECOWAS Commission, with the support of the Regional Authorising Officer (RAO) Support Unit must be ready for the mid-term evaluation of the EPSAO project. The proposal for additional activities for the EPSAO project was accepted by the Steering Committee under conditions of a prior assessment, jointly between ECOWAS and GIZ while taking into account the point of view of the early warning centers. The main objective of the EPSAO Project is to support the ECOWAS Commission in its mandate to prevent and manage conflict and security threats in West Africa. EPSAO is co–funded by the European Union (EU) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH.