Brief History on ECOWAS
The call for a West African community was made by President William Tubman of Liberia in 1964. An agreement was signed among Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in February 1965, but this came to nothing.
In April 1972, General Gowon of Nigeria and General Eyadema of Togo re-launched the idea, drew up proposals and toured 12 countries, soliciting their plan from July to August 1973. A meeting was then called at Lomé from 10-15 December 1973, which studied a draft treaty. This was further examined at a meeting of experts and jurists in Accra in January 1974 and by a ministerial meeting in Monrovia in January 1975. Finally, 15 West African countries signed the treaty for an Economic Community of West African States (Treaty of Lagos) on 28 May 1975. The protocols launching ECOWAS were signed in Lomé, Togo, on 5 November 1976. In 1977 Cape Verde joined ECOWAS, while in 2002 Mauritania withdrew form the Community.
ECOWAS was founded to achieve collective self-sufficiency for the member states by means of economic and monetary union creating a single large trading bloc. It was designated one of the five regional pillars of the African Economic Community (AEC). Together with COMESA, ECCAS, IGAD, and SADC, ECOWAS signed the Protocol on Relations between the AEC and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in February 1998.
However, the very slow progress towards economic and monetary integration meant that the Treaty of Lagos was revised in Cotonou on 24 July 1993, towards a looser collaboration.
In 1900 the ECOWAS nations have signed a non-aggression protocol and two earlier agreements in 1978 and 1981. They have also signed a Protocol on Mutual Defence Assistance, in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on 29 May 1981, that provided for the establishment of an Allied Armed Force of the Community.
In 2008 Guinea On 20 October 2009 ECOWAS announced the suspension of Niger from the organisation. On 17 October ECOWAS had asked Niger to postpone its controversial 20 October elections, but the elections had been boycotted by members of the opposition as President Tandja Mamadou faced accusations of trying to lengthen his reign.
The ECOWAS Summit of December 1999 agreed on a Protocol for the Establishment of a Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, Peace and Security. The Mechanism has a Council of Elders, as well as a Security and Mediation Council. The ten members of the latter are the Foreign Ministers of the following states: Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, and Togo.
The Economic Integration
The ECOWAS Secretariat and the Fund for Cooperation, Compensation and Development are its two main institutions to implement ECOWAS policies. The ECOWAS Fund was transformed into the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development in 2001.
In 2000, five ECOWAS members formed the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) aiming to establish a strong stable currency, “eco”, to rival the CFA franc, whose exchange rate is tied to that of the euro and is guaranteed by the French Treasury. The eventual goal is for the CFA franc and Eco to merge, giving all of West and Central Africa a single stable currency. The launch of the new currency is being prepared by the West African Monetary Institute based in Accra, Ghana. This is intended to be the forerunner of a common central bank. However, several of the WAMZ’s countries suffer from weak currencies and chronic budget deficits which are currently plugged by their central banks printing more and more notes of decreasing real value.
ECOWAS Structure and Decision-making procedures
ECOWAS consists of the Authority of Heads of State and Government, the Council of Ministers, the Community Tribunal, Community Court of Justice, the Executive Secretariat the ECOWAS Parliament, and the Specialised Commissions.
Conference of Heads of State and Government
The Authority of Heads of State and Government of Member States is the supreme institution of the Community and is composed of Heads of State and/or Government of Member States. The Authority is responsible for the general direction and control of the Community and take all measures to ensure its progressive development and the realization of its objectives.
The Authority determines the general policy and major guidelines of the Community and gives directives. It harmonizes and co-ordinates the economic, scientific, technical, cultural and social policies of Member States; oversees the functioning of Community institutions and follow-up implementation of Community objectives; prepares and adopts its Rules of Procedure; appoints the Executive Secretary in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty; appoints on the recommendation of Council, the External Auditors; delegates to the Council, where necessary, the authority to take such decisions as stipulated in the Treaty; refers where it deems necessary any matter to the Community Court of Justice when it confirms, that a Member State or institution of the Community has failed to honour any of its obligations or an institution of the Community has acted beyond the limits of its authority or has abused the powers conferred on it by the provisions of the Treaty, by a decision of the Authority or a regulation of the Council; requests the Community Court of Justice as, and when necessary, to give advisory opinion on any legal questions; and exercises any other powers conferred on it under the Treaty.
The Authority meets at least once a year in ordinary session. An extraordinary session may be convened by the Chairman of the Authority or at the request of a Member State provided that such a request is supported by a simple majority of the Member States. The office of the Chairman is held every year by a Member State elected by the Authority.