The demand for peace and security - as a prerequisite and at the same time as a result of democracy and development - faces deep and very often intertwined security challenges in West Africa and the Sahel. Indeed, the maintenance of peace and security is dealing with serious challenges and threats to stability and governance in West Africa and the Sahel. This region is at the heart of all concerns regarding unsatisfactory constitutional and political reforms, terrorism/violent extremism and organised crime, misallocation of resources, conflicts related to pastoralism, the negative effects of climate change and ethnic or religious tensions.
Although actions by existing stability institutions have made considerable progress in some countries, many conflicts in West Africa and the Sahel have been persistent.
Therefore, the Peace and Security Office of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation's Sub-Saharan Africa Competence Centre has decided to organise this important annual conference. This first edition brought together in Abuja no less than fifty (50) experts and practitioners in the field of peace and security in West Africa from academia, security structures and various institutions, political decision-makers, civil society organizations and non-governmental organizations. The experts represented a wide range of high-level political influencers with expertise in peace and security, mediation, conflict resolution, disarmament, demobilization and reintegration, governance, development and gender mainstreaming.
The panels discussed provided an opportunity to discuss important issues such as agropastoral conflicts, the Boko Haram insurgency, terrorism and organized crime, state fragility and the lack of governance faced by some West African and Sahelian countries, despite the existence of various mechanisms to address these conflicts.
At the end of this conference, the experts highlighted some relevant recommendations. These include the need to invest more in basic and technical education to increase the size of the skilled labour force, to improve the livelihoods of young people, which constitute increased support by member countries for ECOWAS and other regional institutions, to strengthen local structures to increase citizen participation, social responsibility, transparency and better services.
But beyond these recommendations, it was unanimously recognized that there must be a real will on the part of States, the involvement of populations and an urgency in the implementation of adequate and effective solutions.