OPPORTUNITIES FOR CONFLICT PREVENTION. LESSONS FROM THE ECONOMIC COMMUNITY OF WEST AFRICAN STATES (ECOWAS)

Article presented at the 1st International Conference on Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies that took place at UAL on the 29th and 30th of November 2018.


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Jara Cuadrado

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PhD in International Security (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia). Postdoctoral Researcher at Instituto Universitario General Gutiérrez Mellado (Spain). She is integrated Researcher at OBSERVARE, Observatory of Foreign Relations, Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa.



Abstract


Conflict prevention has become an important doctrine within conflict management policies in international and regional organizations, especially since the end of the Cold War. There has been an evolution in the last three decades in the context of peace and security that has made conflict prevention gains relevance. In the current context, with the arrival of António Guterres to the Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), conflict prevention doctrine could be encouraged, since he has pointed out that it should be the priority of the organization. Conflict prevention offers several advantages to face crisis contexts, since it works on avoiding violence situations escalating towards armed conflicts and helping to control the spread of security threats. By using preventive measures, the structural causes of conflicts can be dealt with in the most durable and efficient manner since the final goal of preventive actions is to transform actually or potentially violent conflict into non-violent processes of social and political change. While conflict prevention has gained greater importance, another trend has been promoted; security regionalization¬¬. Since the mid-nineties, there has been a transition in international peacekeeping missions, aimed to warrant peace and security all over the world that has focused on regional actors. This practice has been particularly welcomed in Africa. Both trends –conflict prevention and security regionalization– will be the object of study in this article, using as a practical scenario the region of West Africa. It is a geographic area where a series of cross-border threats are concentrated, hence becoming a zone of international concern. Moreover, the experience on conflict prevention of the regional organization, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is interesting. Indeed, ECOWAS has carried out a significant activity regarding preventive diplomacy and mediation in conflicts. Thus, the objectives of this research are: (1) to study the evolution of conflict prevention doctrine; (2) to assess the link between conflict prevention policies and security regionalization; and (3) to use the case of ECOWAS as an illustration, since the organization is at the forefront of conflict prevention iniciatives in the African continent.



Keywords


Conflict prevention, diplomacy, regionalization of security, West Africa, ECOWAS.



How to cite this article


Cuadrado, Jara (2019). "Opportunities for conflict prevention. Lessons from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)". JANUS.NET e-journal of International Relations, Vol. 10, N.º 2, November 2019-April 2020. Consulted [online] on the date of the last visit, https://doi.org/10.26619/1647-7251.10.2.2



Article received on November 29, 2018 and accepted for publication on May 2, 2019