The mid-year statutory meetings of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have begun in Abuja, the Federal Republic of Nigeria, ahead of its Summit of the Authority of Heads of State and Government slated for this weekend, a dispatch from the mission has said.
On Tuesday, June 25, 2019, the 82nd Ordinary Session of the Council of Ministers of ECOWAS opened at the headquarters of the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja.
According to a release from the Liberian Embassy in Abuja, Liberia’s Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abraham K. Korvah, Sr., and Deputy Finance Minister for Fiscal Affairs Samora P. Z. Wolokollie, were accompanied to the meeting by Ambassador Al-Hassan Conteh.
The Council will be considering several key issues expected to climax later on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, the release said.
Among key issues to be considered during the Council of Ministers’ meeting include the memoranda on the hosting of the Headquarters of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor, the award of the 2018 ECOWAS Prize of Excellence, the ECOWAS Human Capital Development Strategy and High-Level dialogue on human capital development in West Africa.
In his opening statement, the president of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou highlighted the vision of the Founding Fathers of ECOWAS, who saw a need to jointly tackle challenges facing their countries.
“The Heads of State and Government recognized the need to jointly tackle the challenges facing their countries and pool resources, while respecting their diversity in order to achieve stability in the region, ensure rapid growth, optimize production, and raise the living standard of the people,” Brou said.
He added that they must all remember the course set by the Founding Fathers and continuously embrace it as a compass that will steer their actions and evaluate the progress made.
Earlier, the Mediation and Security Council (MSC) of ECOWAS held its 42nd session on Monday, June 24, 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria.
The MSC, made up of ECOWAS member states’ ministers of foreign affairs and defense, deliberated on ways to improve the security situation of the region.
Acting Foreign Minister Korvah and Deputy Defense Minister for Administration Tibli O. Dickson, represented Liberia, along with Ambassador Conteh.
Mr. Brou said that the greatest challenge facing the region today and thus holding back economic, social and human advancement is the issue of regional security.
“Almost every month, our region is hit by terrorist attacks, which plunge our populations into mourning. The problem has become more complex, with ruthless inter-communal clashes that pose a threat to the social cohesion of our countries,” he said.
Brou called on member states to implement the Lomé Declaration on Peace, Security, Stability and the Fight against Terrorism and Violent Extremism, which was adopted during the joint ECOWAS-Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) summit in July, 2018.
He stressed the need for ECOWAS to consider other patterns of relationships and strengthen cooperation with geopolitical blocs with which it shares the same vulnerabilities, given the transnational nature of security threats and the porosity of borders in the region.
On the political front, President Brou highlighted the ECOWAS Commission’s continued effort to support member states in the conduct of inclusive, transparent and credible elections.
Mr. Brou then presented to the Council Memorandums on the Political and Security situation in the region, which included the status of the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB) and the ECOWAS Mission in The Gambia (ECOMIG), as well as one on the issuance of ECOWAS Exemption Certificate by the President of the Commission in case of “extreme” emergency.