How has ECOWAS Fared with Emerging and Recurring Security Threats in the Region?

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) was formed in 1975 by West African states to accelerate economic growth and development in the region. Its member states include Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo, and Nigeria. One of the major security threats in the region is drug trafficking. This challenge has been coupled with alarming kidnappings at sea in the Gulf of Guinea. ECOWAS tried to address the drug crime through the adoption of a policy in 2009 and a year later agreeing the Dakar Initiative. Most of its efforts have focused on restricting the flow of drugs, strengthening borders, and prosecuting culprits. Then there is the ongoing terrorism of Boko Haram and its splinter sects in Nigeria. This has become a normalised phenomenon with seismic reverberations in neighbouring states. The challenge is compounded by the activities of armed bandits and kidnappers. ECOWAS adopted a counter-terrorism strategy and implementation plan in 2013. This outlined three main pillars: prevent, pursue, reconstruct.

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