The Reinforcement of democracy and public governance in West Africa, At the heart of a Regional Colloquium in Dakar

8 Sep 2022

The Reinforcement of democracy and public governance in West Africa, At the heart of a Regional Colloquium in Dakar

The Reinforcement of democracy and public governance in West Africa, At the heart of a Regional Colloquium in Dakar

The United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Open Society Initiative – West Africa (OSIWA), the Kofi Annan Foundation (KAF), and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) organized, on 6 and 7 September 2022, a colloquium on the enhancement of democracy and good governance in West Africa.

The colloquium brought together around sixty participants, including experts and practitioners in governance and peacebuilding, and representatives of think tanks and research organizations.

The colloquium was enhanced by the presence of Mr. Kabiné Komara, former Prime Minister of the Republic of Guinea, Mr. Mahamat Saleh ANNADIF, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, as well as Ms. Giovanie Biha, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for West Africa. and the Sahel, Mr. Ibrahima Aidara, Deputy Director of Open Society Foundations for Africa, Ms. Roselyn Akombe, Governance and Peacebuilding Coordinator of the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa; Dr. Arnauld Akodjénou, Senior Advisor on Africa of the Kofi Annan Foundation; and Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, Regional Director for West and Central Africa of NDI.

The main objective of the symposium was to assess the state of governance and the implementation of the main existing normative frameworks and instruments supporting democratic governance in the subregion. The main frameworks and instruments analysed were the 2001 ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance, the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance and the 2011 Praia Declaration on Elections and Stability in West Africa.

Through various plenary sessions and working groups, participants addressed major issues related to governance and democracy in West Africa, the reform of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol and security challenges in the sub-region.

The work of the symposium made it possible to formulate a series of concrete recommendations:

On the elections, the participants advocated for the establishment of efficient civil registers that would make it possible to extract the electoral lists instead of cyclical electoral files. They also called for efforts towards a greater professionalization of election management bodies, starting with the selection criteria of their members, the transparency of their actions and the mechanisms likely to increase their independence.

On political parties, the colloquium recommended the creation of spaces for permanent consultation between stakeholders in electoral processes, including political parties, civil society organizations and the media, which lead to information sharing and dispute resolution; as well as, to take necessary measures to improve internal democracy and governance within them and work for the civic and political education of their activists, including leadership and power management training.

On the issue of the revision of the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol, participants recommended the mobilization of civil society to influence political decisions based on the expressed will of most West African citizens in favour of effective democratic regimes. They also advised to find appropriate formulations and identify resource persons, including former Heads of State, who could advocate with reluctant Heads of State with a view to achieving a consensual revision of the Supplementary Protocol.