ECOWAS: Trajectory from Economic to Regional Security Organisation
AbstractThis paper analyses the evolution of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) from an economic bloc to a regional security organisation (RSO). Relying on ‘New Regionalism’ to explain the shift in emphasis from economic integration to a holistic political union, the paper argues that non-traditional security threats faced by ECOWAS member-states facilitated evolution. These threats include pandemic diseases, violent territorial disputes, regional economic and political crises, terrorism, poverty, human migratory pressures, illicit transfer of small arms and light weapons and food security. Others are environmental degradation, transnational organised crimes, fake drugs and narcotics, insurgency, sectarian religious crises, conflicts over scarce resources, and foreign military presence in West Africa (US, France and others). These threats were exacerbated by superpower disengagement from the security architecture of the sub-region, thus the emergence of a security community and regional security complex with its attendant shared commitment to mutual security.