At the end of the Cold War, Africa was ravaged by conflicts in various regions and that required the intervention of ECOWAS to preserve her regional security. Several instruments were therefore established for the management of conflicts through the ECOWAS Revised Treaty (1993) and other protocols. However, there are problems with the implementation of the conflict management mechanism with negative impact on regional security. Accordingly, the rationale for this study is the desire to contribute to the quest for improving the conflict management mechanism. Thus, the study is titled “Conflict Management and Regional Security: A Case Study of ECOWAS”. The study examines the effects of ECOWAS conflict management capability on regional security.
The study was basically a descriptive research. Data were collected from primary and secondary sources using both field method and documents analysis. Primary data were collected through a purposive sample of respondents which included senior officers and other schedule officers of ECOWAS Commission as well as other stakeholders. The data were analyzed qualitatively by logical reasoning and quantitatively through statistical methods.
The research findings revealed the failure of conflict prevention strategies and the resultant escalation of the conflicts with adverse consequences on regional security. Interventions by ECOWAS were also not sufficient to bring the conflicts to a quick end as the UN had to come in eventually. Some of the identified challenges included political will to implement the provisions of the conflict management mechanism, limited operational and logistic capacities of the ESF, proliferation of SALW. The prospects include, growing legitimacy, growing democratic culture and increasing support from development partners. The strategies proffered include improving the early response mechanism, operationalisation of the ESF, control of SALW.
The study concluded that ECOWAS has an implementable conflict management mechanism in place but it needs to do more to achieve the objective of maintaining regional security. It was therefore recommended that ECOWAS should implement the relevant provisions on the composition of the MSC, establish the headquarters elements of the ESF, push for harmonization of legislations by member states on control of SALW and establish the civilian planning element at the Commission Headquarters among others. On the whole, the study provided insights on the feasibility of enhancing conflict management capability and strengthening regional security in West Africa.