Economic Community of West Africa -ECOWAS


Name: Economic Community of West African States
Acronym: ECOWAS
Year of foundation: 1975
Headquarters: Abuja, Nigeria

The call for a West African community was made by President William Tubman of Liberia in 1964. An agreement was signed among Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in February 1965, but this came to nothing.

In April 1972, General Gowon of Nigeria and General Eyadema of Togo re-launched the idea, drew up proposals and toured 12 countries, soliciting their plan from July to August 1973. A meeting was then called at Lomé from 10-15 December 1973, which studied a draft treaty. This was further examined at a meeting of experts and jurists in Accra in January 1974 and by a ministerial meeting in Monrovia in January 1975. Finally, 15 West African countries signed the treaty for an Economic Community of West African States (Treaty of Lagos) on 28 May 1975. The protocols launching ECOWAS were signed in Lomé, Togo, on 5 November 1976. In 1977 Cape Verde joined ECOWAS, while in 2002 Mauritania withdrew from the Community.
ECOWAS was founded to achieve collective self-sufficiency for the member states by means of economic and monetary union creating a single large trading bloc. It was designated one of the five regional pillars of the African Economic Community (AEC). Together with COMESA, ECCAS, IGAD, and SADC, ECOWAS signed the Protocol on Relations between the AEC and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in February 1998.
However, the very slow progress towards economic and monetary integration meant that the Treaty of Lagos was revised in Cotonou on 24 July 1993, towards a looser collaboration.
In 1900 the ECOWAS nations have signed a non-aggression protocol and two earlier agreements in 1978 and 1981. They have also signed a Protocol on Mutual Defence Assistance, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on 29 May 1981, that provided for the establishment of an Allied Armed Force of the Community.
In 2008 Guinea On 20 October 2009 ECOWAS announced the suspension of Niger from the organisation. On 17 October ECOWAS had asked Niger to postpone its controversial 20 October elections, but the elections had been boycotted by members of the opposition as President Tandja Mamadou faced accusations of trying to lengthen his reign.
The ECOWAS Summit of December 1999 agreed on a Protocol for the Establishment of a Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, Peace and Security. The Mechanism has a Council of Elders, as well as a Security and Mediation Council. The ten members of the latter are the Foreign Ministers of the following states: Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo.