ECOWAS Commission President Kadré Desire Ouédraogo has called on partners and stakeholders to undertake a 'sober reflection, healthy debate, and open self-criticism' of the regional bloc's interventions in Mali, in order to help the organisation and the region 'to improve their conflict management and resolution capacity.'
President Ouedraogo spoke at an experts' review meeting which opened in Akosombo, Ghana, Tuesday, ECOWAS' initiatives and responses to the recent security, political, and institutional crises in Mali.
'Within this context, the criticisms leveled against parties are not meant to slight them or to diminish the immense contributions they have made, and continue to make towards the stabilisation of Mali and the preservation of regional peace and security' but intended to 'elicit an open and frank debate towards the formulation of workable recommendations,' the Commission Tuesday quoted him as saying.
The meeting, being attended by experts on regional political and security matters, social and humanitarian affairs, diplomacy and communication, as well as representatives of partners, the Civil Society, research institutions and Centers of Excellence, is aimed at dissecting ECOWAS' multifaceted interventions before and during the Malian crises, with the purpose of drawing appropriate lessons for the future.
President Ouédraogo said the meeting, organised by the ECOWAS Commission in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, is not intended to 'celebrate our achievements in Mali,' but rather to engage partners and stakeholders' with a view to improving the anticipatory and response postures of the ECOWAS system to current and emergent crises in the Region.
While noting that the preliminary conclusions of an ECOWAS internal review held in November 2013 in Lagos, Nigeria, had 'revealed considerable shortcomings in aspects of the Community's strategic, political, diplomatic, military and institutional approaches and arrangements to the crises in Mali,' the President said the After-Action Review exercise should come up with recommendations to 'strengthen and operationalise the ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture in the areas of Early Warning, Preventive Diplomacy, and particularly in the operationalisation of the ECOWAS Standby Force.'
Giving the keynote address, Ghana's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Hannah Serwah Tetteh said that Mali 'provided us with a wake-up call with a mixed bag of experiences'.
'As we work through a conflict-free Africa by 2020; as the UN prepares to mainstream peace, rule of law and governance into the post-2015 development agenda, this critical exercise of after crisis review on Mali should be made to generate synergies towards building resilience in our respective local communities, countries and the region as a whole,' the Minister said.
The outcome of the workshop is expected to feed into the meeting of the Technical Committee of Political Affairs and ECOWAS Ambassadors in Accra, 10-11 Feb. 2013.