Last week, we welcomed a high delegation of ECOWAS for a one-week skills and capacity building training in negotiation and mediation. It was the fifth time that ECOWAS ambassadors and staff of the Mediation Facilitation Division (MFD) joined in The Hague for a training to enhance their conflict resolution capacity in West Africa. This time also the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security was present to bring in his wealth of experience and to learn from the other participants.
Regional Human Security
ECOWAS is working hard towards the strengthening of a peace and security architecture in West Africa. With its Member States and external partners, such as the African Union, it structurally works together on conflict prevention and peace-building. In 1999 the ECOWAS States adopted a “protocol on the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peace-keeping and Security’, which is still the most important legal and normative instrument in matters relating to peace and security. A Mediation and Security Council functions to implement all policies and to authorise all forms of intervention when real threats to human security in the ECOWAS region occur.
Learning and Knowledge Exchange
The negation and mediation training offered to ECOWAS by Clingendael directly contributed towards this aim and structure. The high-level group learned profound negotiation and mediation skills and theory that are necessary to insert in a crisis situation. These participants could be asked to be part of mediation (team) or to be part of a fact finding mission to advise on the situation on the ground to the President of the Commission.
During the Clingendael training, they also learned how to analyse a conflict and think about what intervention ECOWAS could set in motion, when looking at the Mechanism. Furthermore, this course focused on making sure that all participants learned from each other’s experience through the sharing of practical and real-life cases related to conflict prevention is West Africa.
Enhance Conflict Resolution
The ECOWAS Mediation Facilitation Division staff, ambassadors and Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security also worked on a reflection assignment together. This allowed them to think critically about ECOWAS’ recent interventions in Togo and Guinea-Bissau in particular. The assignment was a great success and led to the creation of an action plan with various priority items that will be brought forward to the ECOWAS Commission in Abuja, Nigeria. The action plan will in the future be utilised there in order to further enhance the region’s conflict resolution capacity, with the help of its own Mediation Facilitation Division.