The peace and stability the sub-region enjoyed after gaining independence lasted only up to the late 1970s and early 1980s. Instability afterwards was due primarily to the nature and character of the governance systems and regimes in the Member States. This was evident by the excessive powers wielded by the leaders which suppressed any opposition that challenged such authority. Accordingly, while the few were getting richer and richer, the majority were living in poverty and deprivation. Marginalization, denial of the majority from participation in national affairs, lack of opportunities for self actualization and the poor state of national development resulted in large scale poverty and dissatisfaction. The poor quality of governance with associated negative vices which deprived the majority of acceptable living standards in the sub-region led to coups and counter coups and later devastating civil conflicts under the guise of patriotic revolutions to change the status-quo in the interest of the majority. However, the conflicts, instead of resolving the problems, have shattered the governance systems and structures further, as well as economic, social and infrastructure systems. Additionally, the conflicts have created insecurity and fear, thus making the sub-region unsafe for investment and the normal conduct of social and economic activities. Deprivation has further debilitated the youths leading to massive unemployment and disguised unemployment. This situation poses threats to the fragile peace, security and stability, recovery, reconstruction and national and sub-regional development.
The spread of the civil conflicts in the Member States of the sub-region demonstrates their inter-dependence in all spheres of life. It is evident that insecurity in one country poses threats to the neighboring states taking into consideration the fact that the borders are extensive, impassable in many areas, porous and with poor infrastructure. Additionally, border posts lack trained manpower and required equipment to effectively monitor and control movement of peoples and goods as well as the delivery of services. Accordingly, security is not only further threatened, but arms and drug trafficking, trafficking in humans and terrorism pose serious challenges to sustained peace and security in the sub-region. Pursuing peace at individual country level, taking into consideration the prevailing security context is now considered unsustainable. Collaboration between countries in the sub-region and the formulation and adoption of a common strategy for sustained peace, security and stability is considered the best way forward.
The gradual return of democratic governance in Member States of the Union, although not violent free due to reasons related to structure, systems, processes and the general conduct of the elections, the need for maintaining the progress, even if slow, is vital.
1. Develop and operationalise a peace and security architecture for the union.
2. Improve cross border security in the sub-region to ensure human and material security.
3. Design mechanisms to oversee the conduct of free and fair elections in member states.
Strategy and Programmes
To address the above challenges in a sub-regional context and achieve pillar II's objectives, the MRU will focus on three main areas.
(i) The development of security architecture for the sub-region;
(ii) The formulation and implementation of a border management programme;
(iii) The establishment of a sub-regional framework to sustain and ensure democratic transitions peacefully.
In general, overall guidance and direction for these interventions will come from national laws and regulations on elections, the AU and ECOWAS Protocols and other international conventions relative to democratic governance with focus on elections. In particular, these will be pursued within the framework of the 15th Protocol to the MRU Declaration on Co-operation on Defense, Security, Internal Affairs and Foreign Affairs. This Protocol, among other things, calls for the establishment of structures, systems and mechanisms to facilitate information gathering and analysis on security issues; dissemination of appropriate security information to stakeholders with a view to ensuring common understanding and appreciation of developments on the security front; monitoring of borders, holding of appropriate meetings to understand and address security issues and concerns; and providing the atmosphere for confidence building within and among communities especially along the borders. Overall, this protocol aims at making national and sub-regional security the business and responsibility of all citizens so as to prevent conflict and sustain the peace.
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