Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

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Roles of the economic community of West African states in the struggle against insurgencies in Mali and Nigeria: a critical review

Oluwaseun Bamidele


The decision to deepen cooperation among the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the struggle against insurgencies in Mali and Nigeria has inspired a lively debate among scholars. Since no large-scale war has occurred between ECOWAS member states since its founding in 1975, it is reasonable to ask whether the institutionalisation of a Security Community was not long overdue. Furthermore, the official proclamation of ECOWAS as a Security Community should lead to the expectation that ECOWAS is a zone of peace and stability. This study questions the stability of ECOWAS security arrangements and subsequently examines whether ECOWAS can be considered a security community in the full sense of the term. The main goal of a security community is to provide transnational peace and political stability. However, armed border conflicts between neighbouring countries emerge occasionally due to unsettled territorial claims and ungoverned spaces in the West African region, which is largely affected by growing insecurity. However, armed border conflicts between neighbouring countries emerge occasionally due to unsettled territorial claims, such as the recent border dispute between Ivory Coast and Guinea over the Kpeaba village area near Sipilou (Siquita) and Nigeria and Benin over Okpara River leading to several casualties. Moreover, in nearly half of the ECOWAS member states, there are ongoing armed insurgencies against the governments. Concerted actions of the affected ECOWAS member states against trans-nationally operating insurgents have failed to materialise. This study therefore employs historical methodology to assess the existence of ECOWAS as an effective security community as contained in its framework and also examines the challenges faced with the context of the situations in Nigeria and Mali.

Keywords: ECOWAS, security community, zone of peace, insurgencies, security challenges
AJOL African Journals Online