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Opinions of Thursday, 28 April 2016

Columnist: Abdul-Yekin, Kofi Ali

The Mystery of the ECOWAS glass ceiling (2)

We used the part 1 of this article highlighting the complicated nature of the cultures making up the member states of ECOWAS and the role democracy is capable of playing, in overcoming the challenges associated with cultural transformation.

The ideal behind the formation of ECOWAS took a more practical nature when the body of the heads of states and heads of governments of the now 15 members, adopted a body of treaties establishing the ECOWAS in 1975. In 1975 when the the ideal behind the formation of ECOWAS become a must and so the passing into law the treaties establishing the body, almost everyone of the member state was under a military rule.

Like the 1992 Maastricht Treaty of the EU that was introduce to re-energised the 1957 Treaty of Rome, the revised treaty signed in Cotonou, Benin Republic July 1993, had the heads of state and governments of now the 15 member states, reaffirming their commitment to the project.

The fourteenth session of the ECOWAS heads of states and heads of governments, is a clear act of responding to the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, in adjusting the west African Project to live up to its ideals, by adopting into law 93 Treaties. The zeal by which the 300 million citizens of ECOWAS and their representatives adopted the 93 treaties, gave an impression that the West Africans have studied their EU counterparts enough to know what their European partners are about to start doing right, and are religiously going to be the embarked on by the ECOWAS too.

In reaffirming their commitment to re-energising the process of the regional cultural transformation, the 15 states sharing the ECOWAS ideal had it that every member state must achieve a set standard of internal democratisation, as necessary condition of transcending to the regional democratic agenda, to make real the workability of the 93 Treaties. The official ECOWAS web page capture this as "they took into consideration the African Charter on People's and Human Right and the Declaration on Political Principles of the Economic Community of the West African States adopted in Abuja by the fourteenth Ordinary Session of the authority of Heads of state and Government on 6 July 1991 and were further convinced that the integration of Member State into a viable regional community may demand the partial and gradual pooling of national sovereignties within the context of collective political will". (http://www.ecowas.int/ecowas-law/treaties/).

A very close study of the details of the 1992 Maastricht Treaty (EUT http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:xy0026) and the 1993 Cotonou Treaty expose that ECOWAS has carefully studied its challenges and realised that the problems faced by the two regional blocks are fundamentally the same. The adopted treaties are mirror of themselves and, justifiably so. All the institutions the EU had and their functions, were the same as those adopted by ECOWAS. The obvious fact about the EU and ECOWAS lay in both understanding that they are faced with a challenge of regional cultural transformation, surmountable by adhering to the principles of democratisation at the states and to some extent, the regional levels. The need for subjecting certain regional challenge to popular participation became a necessary condition to the two regional bodies.
The contention is the extent to which the two regional bodies will be democratising what must be democratise, at both level?

In how the EU was able to use democratic popular participatory approach, to overcome her challenge of regional cultural transformation, while the ECOWAS appear to be incapable of doing anything democratic beyond each member states' border, is what we intend to shed more light.

We shall be doing this by first acknowledging the fact that every one of the 15 ECOWAS member states, have done tremendously well to live up to their commitment in the actualisation of the ECOWAS democratic ideals at member state level, despite their respective internal constraints referred to in part 1. By considering all the institutional reforms shared by both EU and the ECOWAS, beyond each member state in brief, we intend to expose the key institutions that accommodate democratisation and popular participation at both the state and regional levels. We shall also be looking at how this popular participatory democratic exercise will be aiding the effectiveness of the 93 Treaties of ECOWAS, as is the case with the EU, in the course of regional cultural transformation. This will be the focus of our next publication titled, the "Mystery of ECOWAS Democratic Glass Ceiling" (Part 3).

Kofi Ali Abdul-Yekin
Chairman ECRA
(ECOWAS Citizens Right Advocates)
+233579096749
kofialiabdul@yahoo.co.uk