The maiden edition of the West Africa Peace and Innovation (WAPSI) Forum which held on the 9th and 10th of March 2022 has raised hope of inclusivity, good governance and an enduring stakeholders’ engagement on peace and security in the region. The Forum is a platform designed by the ECOWAS Commission and its partners to intensify community engagement, facilitate cutting edge research and foster the dissemination of knowledge sharing on best practices and innovative solutions to the emerging challenges to human security in the ECOWAS region. Speaking during its opening, the ECOWAS Commission President Jean Claude Kassi Brou noted that the Forum is being launched at an auspicious time when the West African region is facing human security and severe health challenges, accentuated by the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
In her goodwill message, the Head of European Union (EU) delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Cecile Tassin-Pelzer stated that Covid-19 pandemic exacerbated existing challenges such as the surge in armed conflicts, proliferation of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW), climate change, unconstitutional seizure of power, among others. ECOWAS, she maintained must galvanize action and intensify collaboration with stakeholders in finding solutions to the varied issues raised at the forum. She pledged that EU will continue to support the African Governance Architecture.
The Ambassador of Federal Republic of Germany to Nigeria and ECOWAS, represented by his deputy Herr Martin Huth, emphasized the need to build bridges in order to collectively address the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on global economy and the most vulnerable in societies. Presenters, participants, discussants and the generality of invitees who dialogued at the virtual sessions were persuaded that the West African region, more than ever before is in need of innovative approaches to tackle emerging human security challenges.
The Forum featured the launch of two reports commissioned by WAPSI-on Human Security and Leveraging Technology for Peacebuilding in the ECOWAS region. There were also breakout sessions where panelists and experts examined the multifaceted dimensions of human security, Covid-19 ramifications, digital technologies and mediation among others.
The two-day forum wound up with a summary of highlights by the Executive Director of West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) Dr. Chukwuemeka Eze who urged ECOWAS Member States and stakeholders to move beyond rhetorics, budget for and promote bottoms-up approach to peacebuilding, and invest in critical health infrastructure since human security risks are not defined by the absent of threats but the vulnerabilities of the people to threats.
Bringing the highly networked and globally attended event to a close, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner, Political Affairs, Peace and Security, represented by the Head of Division Mediation and Coordination of Regional Political Affairs Dr. Onyiye Onwuka, expressed profound gratitude to all the Commission’s partners for a successful hosting of the event while reiterating the need for sustained partnership and engagement with all institutions, to ensure a healthier, safer region for community citizens. The forum is co-funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), and implemented with the support of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ GmbH).
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