A two-day Workshop on Strengthening Cooperation and Coordination between the African Union (AU), Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Regional Mechanisms (RM) and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) was held last week in Cotonou within the framework of the European Union Support to APSA IV Programme.
The Permanent Representation of ECOWAS to the AU organized the important Workshop with a view to create a platform that enables participants to share experiences and lessons learnt from their respective engagement on Peace and Security, and formulate feasible recommendations to improve capacity of RECs and RMs‘ CSOs and their involvement into the African Union Peace and Security Agenda.
At the Opening Ceremony of the workshop, Ambassador Amadou Diongue , Resident Representative of ECOWAS to Benin in his remarks, recalled the legal framework on which the workshop is based which is part of the quest for Peace and Security and Stability within the continent.
He recalled the history of the legal basis of the Protocol relating to the establishment of the Peace and Security Council of the AU (2002) through its article 20 which encourages CSOs, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Organizations (CBOs) to actively participate in efforts to promote Peace, Security and Stability in Africa. Amb. Amadou Diongue also mentioned the difficulties of implementing the continental Charter on Democracy, Election and Governance; hence the strengthening of Civil Societies to overcome the fragility of our States.
He thanked the European Union for its support within the framework of APSA IV Programme.
The AUC Representative in her remarks stated that cooperation with CSOs around the continent deemed fundamental to national, regional and continental initiatives towards sustainable development, peace and security.
Thus, the need to build the capacity of local civil society organizations, not only to reduce their excessive dependence on external sources of funding but also to ensure that they complement efforts of governments in promoting and consolidating democracy and sustaining peace and security.
As for the Permanent Representative of ECOWAS to the AU, Ambassador N’Guessan Ake Pierre Diamidia, while he welcomed the participants in Cotonou and online for the workshop, he stated that the one of the objectives was to remind us and assess the progress of our regional collaboration and commitments with CSOs in the quest of strengthened cooperation and coordination in the implementation of our efforts related to the Peace and Security Agenda.
He then called for a good deliberation, full participation and contribution of all participants before declaring the workshop open.
During the two days of discussions and exchanges with thematic presentations, participants including Experts and Think Tank, formulated some recommendations including: Using traditional and cultural knowledge and systems to promote peace and security; Develop unified guidelines on peace and security interventions and operations across the continent for effective coordination; Develop joint programs between States, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Regional Mechanisms (RMs) and CSOs to implement activities in a coordinated manner; Harmonize laws and policies that regulate the activities of CSOs at the national and regional level; Create a regional database of CSOs that identifies their specialization and expertise that can be used to provide technical support and serve as a link between CSOs and RECs and RMs; Strengthen knowledge of CSOs on the work undertaken by the RECs/RMs, ECOSOCC and AU in the area of Peace and Security.
Participating in the working session are the Representatives from RECs and RMs; AUC Peace, Security and Political Affairs Department; Representatives of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from RECs and RMs; West African Network on Peace (WANEP); Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC); Representatives from partners EU, CICR; Academia; Think Tank; Representatives from the ECOWAS Permanent Representation to the African Union Commission and ECOWAS Resident Representative to Benin.