This sixth issue of UNOWAS Magazine is a special edition devoted to the regional colloquium on “Challenges and prospects of political reforms in West Africa in 2015-2017,” which was organized by UNOWAS in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, from 26 to 27 March 2018.
Political reforms is an important theme, which concerns all sub-regional countries. The ongoing political reforms in the region made it pertinent for UNOWAS to organize a platform, where various experts could share their analyses and proposals with an aim to assist the governments and all political actors involved in successfully implementing their respective political reform processes.
The objectives of the two-day colloquium were to: identify and analyze the main reasons which led many West African countries to initiate political reforms from 2015 to 2017; highlight mechanisms and processes, which led to the success or failure of political reforms; consider the background history of and changes in the relevant provisions, the main political aspects, similarities and differences between the various countries concerned; and identifying the scope, challenges, and prospects of political reforms in the sub-region.
To achieve its objectives, the Abidjan colloquium was structured around three opening papers and eighteen thematic papers divided into six sections. Opening papers addressed the following themes: “Generation and types of political reforms in West Africa”, “Political reforms and governance”, and “ECOWAS instruments for building peace and promoting democracy and good governance in West Africa.” As for thematic conferences, they addressed two key themes - Theme 1: “Context, mechanisms, and causes of political reforms» and Theme 2: “Content, implementation, and impacts of political reforms”.
After reviewing the reform processes initiated in West Africa in 2015-2017, recommendations were made for more legitimate and more relevant future political reforms in the sub-region. The recommendations included the establishment of a sub-regional platform on political reforms and good governance.
The sub-regional colloquium on «Challenges and prospects of political reforms in West Africa in 2015-2017” was attended by 72 participants, including: representatives of 15 out of 16 West African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo); representatives of regional and international organizations (UNOWAS, ECOWAS, IDEA, OSIWA, UNOCA, UNDP); and representatives of civil society organizations, women’s and young people’s groups (Réseau Ouest Africain des jeunes Femmes Leaders-ROAJELF, Fondation Cléopatre d’Afrique, Je m’engage, Muslim Student’s Society of Nigeria).
We are hoping that this special edition will make you “relive the colloquium and its debates” and allow you to understand the ongoing political reform processes, including how best to improve governance in the sub-region.