In order to help consolidate its peace building and conflict resolution processes, the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has enjoined journalists in the region to be conflict sensitive reporters.
Opening a 3-Day Workshop on the role of the media in promoting peace and security in West Africa on the 25th of June 2018, in Abuja, Nigeria, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) General Francis Behanzin, said the exercise will enable the building of effective channels of communication, visibility and networking towards the successful implementation of ECOWAS peace and security agenda.
Speaking through the Director, Political Affairs Dr. Aderemi Ajibewa, the Commissioner charged the journalists, drawn from the 15-Member States of the Community, to be committed to the attainment of Vision 2020 which seeks to have an ECOWAS of the people rather than of States.
He stated that as the fourth estate of the realm, journalists in the region are “indirectly the real decision makers” on account of their being “the history, the memory, the culture of our the citizens, the voice of the voiceless, the active actors, (and) opinion makers”
Stressing further that as key collaborators, media practitioners are “the eyes, the tongue, the feet of the nations”, Commissioner Behanzin said that as “the salt and light of our societies” journalists should be pillars of enhanced ECOWAS visibility as well as the entrenchment of the Community policies and programmes in Member States”.
Welcoming participants to the Workshop, the ECOWAS Commission’s Ag Director of Communication Mr. Liberor Doscof Aho who was represented by Mr. Arthur Obayuwana stressed that the exercise is one of the series of “refresher courses” primed to enhance the capacity of journalists to better inform the 300 million citizens of West African region.
It will help create the necessary awareness and provide sustained visibility for integration activities while promoting peace and security in the ECOWAS region” He added.
In his remarks, the Manager, ECOWAS Peace Fund, Mr. Dieudonne Nikiema, held that Information and Communication are an important component for the joint construction of ECOWAS Vision 2020. He expressed the hope that in close collaboration, The ECOWAS Commission and journalists would share valuable and useful information which can be employed to “co-build a partnership and communication network to support the ECOWAS peace and security agenda”
He thanked the European Union (EU) for its continued support of the regional integration programme and the peace and security architecture in West Africa while noting the enthusiasm for and commitment of the selected journalists to become partners for peace building and stability.
In a key note address to participants, the Head, Regional Cooperation Section of the EU Ms Stefania Marrone restated the aim of the EU support to ECOWAS Peace, Security and Stability (PSS) Mandate Project which is to “support ECOWAS in its objective to ensure the security and safety of its people by proactive, peaceful means”.
The EU financial and moral support, she said, enables the ECOWAS Commission to execute its conflict prevention and resolution mandate in a sustainable, proactive way – specifically by strengthening the institutional and managerial capacity of the directorates with responsibility for this sector.
In order to achieve the objectives of the Workshop, relevant Directorates and Units of the ECOWAS Commission, made presentations relating to the promotion of peace and security, thus covering all the cycle of conflict (prevent, management, resolution, stabilization and peacebuilding).
These included Communication, Early Warning, Conflict Prevention Mechanism, Peacekeeping and Regional Security, Legal Affairs, Humanitarian and Social Affairs among others.
The workshop facilitated by consultant Paul Ejime, will feature recommendations for best practices in the peace building and conflict resolution mandate of the ECOWAS Commission