The Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia has called on ECOWAS member states to create and provide a budgetary allocation to champion the work of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in providing peace for the continent.
This according to him should be done by availing a portion of ECOWAS levy to professional CSOs with track records for peace building activities.
Vice President Bawumia made the call when he addressed participants at the 20th anniversary celebration of the West Africa Network for Peace building (WANEP) in Accra yesterday.
It was themed; “The future of peace and security in democratic societies: the complimentary roles of CSOs”
He said the peace in Africa should not be taken for granted, “We cannot do anything without peace and so we should invest in peace as we invest in other parts of society”.
Dr Bawumia said the roles and contributions of CSOs to nation building continues to evolve and now revolve around the key issues of human security, economic empowerment, political transition, budget monitory amongst others.
“West African CSOs have undoubtedly played crucial roles in the promotion of ECOWAS peace and security agenda at regional and national levels, there is an increasing recognition that CSOs have access to conflict zones and are in direct contact with victims allowing them to provide unique types of information needed in conflict management and transformation,” he said.
CSOs in West Africa largely rely on external sources of funding for their peace building activities most often the funds are short term and limited in scope.
He said there was the need for CSOs to collaborate with governments in the Sub region to consolidate the gains made over the years in maintaining peace and security in the region and also forge a better way forward.
“This involves strengthening conflict early warning systems, community and national peace building infrastructure to enhance preparedness and response to security threats,” he said.
The Executive Director of WANEP, Dr Chukwuemeka B. Eze said WANEP was founded in response to civil wars that plagued West Africa in the 1990s.
He said WANEP’s key priority areas included the development of early warning and response mechanisms, dialogue and mediation, democratic governance and elections.
The Executive Director said it is also known for building capacity for peace and the promotion of women’s participation at all levels of peace processes.
Dr Eze said WANEP over the years has emerged as a credible institution with the technical know-how and best practice in conflict management, resolution and transformation.
“WANEP’s sustained Regional Network structure and its support to state and intergovernmental organisations has been recognised as a dynamic model of a regional organisation much sought after for replication across the continent and the globe,” he said.
The Head of United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas also commended the efforts of WANEP in peace building and prevention of conflicts in Africa.
“I commend you for the influencing of peace and stability in the region but do not rest on your oars as you reflect into the 20 years, project into the next 20 years,” he said.
BY Agnes Opoku Sarpong