Regional Conflict Analysis : Summary of a Policy Brief on West Africa



By Danlami Nmodu

It was time for stock-taking on the conflict situation in West Africa.Venue was Immaculate Suites and Apartments Abuja, Monday March 19,2012.The presentation of Policy  Briefon Regional Conflict Analysis (West Africa) was organized by Conciliation Resources and CePSERD ,Centre for Peacebuilding and Socio-Economic Resources Development.

A few lessons were self -evident from the presentation by Jonathan Cohen, director of programmes,Conciliation Resources. He emphasised the need for public participation in  peace process in the aftermath of conflicts since elite driven peace processes have proven inadequate over time as well as the need to engage armed groups in dialogue as military solutions are rarely successful among others

Four findings were highlighted during the briefling as the peculiar issues with regards to conflicts in the subregion.First,Cohen said is the issue of disparity between the centre and periphery.Various centres  dominate and this  often creates inequality,marginalization and discontent inter alia.There are conflicts arising from boundaries  within  aside from issues  across borders.Issues such as the need to change relationships  between those who provide security and the people as well as the lack of ability to hold politicians accountable, the need to encourage decentralization and the reality of infrastructural gaps between the centre and periphery came under review.

Second,Janet Adama Mohammed, West Africa Programme Director of Conciliation Resources highlighted how neglect of the youth have become a key factor  in the conflict situations  in the subregion.It was noted for example that youths are not included in the political process except as body guards;they get co-opted into war economy and when the youth experience war it is difficult to relinquish such .There is the need for quality education for the them  and it is essential for land reforms to reflect the needs of the youth so that they can be stakeholders in the cash crop enterprises ,among other highlights.

Third,she equally highlighted the relevance of Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration, DDR.Given the Liberia and Sierra Leone that have gone through the DDR regime, a few lessons can be drawn in order not to repeat the mistakes of the past.

Fourth,Cohen spoke on the relevance of the sub-regional  organization,ECOWAS which has taken some coordinated steps .Clearly ECOWAS has taken some  proactive measures, but he quickly noted that ECOWAS regional capacity is limited.
The briefings generated very interesting debates  among the participants ,an issue that Ayokunle Fagbemi of CePSERD noted with glee.

Conciliation Resources is an international NGO  registered in the United Kingdom.It seeks to influence government peacemaking policies and also publish journals.C-R believes conflicts can be transformed peacefully and peacemaking and peacebuilding are essential in helping lay foundations for more just and inclusive societies,an official pamphlet said.

Equally CePSERD is a Nigerian NGO which facilitates development of  partnership and understanding  among state-non state actor .CepSERD also supports and encourages cooperative responses, experience and information sharing;produces resource materials and develop mechanisms and frameworks for the emergence or sustenance of viable partnerships among stakeholders, an official bulletin said.

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