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ECOWAS champions strengthening multilateralism at United Nations event

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The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) made a significant case for promoting healthy building blocks to strengthen multilateralism during a high-level event at the United Nations.

The ECOWAS @ 49 event, held on June 7, 2024, at the ECOSOCC chamber at the UN headquarters, highlighted the regional body’s ongoing efforts and achievements in fostering democracy, development, and regional cooperation.

Ambassador Abdel-Fatau Musah, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace, and Security, represented ECOWAS Commission President Omar Alieu Touray at the event. Musah emphasized the crucial relationship between regionalism, democracy, and development in West Africa, drawing attention to ECOWAS’s historical interventions and mediation missions in Chad, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, and more recent member state engagements.

Highlighting West Africa’s rich history and its role as a source of great African empires and civilizations, Musah underscored the importance of regionalism and its symbiotic relationship with multilateralism.

He called for support to build on ECOWAS’s visionary accomplishments, including the protocol for free movement of persons, goods, and the right of residence and establishment.

Musah noted ECOWAS’s ambitious plans for interconnectivity through land, sea, and air, and the establishment of economic integration schemes such as the common external tariff. He also discussed the region’s commitment to self-sufficiency, with ECOWAS drawing 75 to 80 percent of its funding from a community levy. He thanked Nigeria for its significant contributions and sacrifices in this regard.

Reaffirming ECOWAS’s dedication to democratic principles, Musah addressed the recent notices of withdrawal from three member states, highlighting the need to rebuild multilateralism through similar global values. He announced a planned special summit to engage these states and address their grievances, emphasizing that “disagreement must not lead to divorce.”

The event was moderated by H.E. Amb. Cheikh Niang, Dean of ECOWAS Group of Ambassadors at the UN and permanent representative of Senegal. It featured presentations by UN Deputy Secretary-General Ms. Amina J. Mohammed, who lauded ECOWAS’s achievements, and goodwill messages from ECOWAS Permanent Representative to the UN H.E. Ambassador Kinza Jawara-Njai, Prof. Rita Kiki Edozie of the University of Massachusetts, and representatives from the African and European Unions, who pledged support for strengthening multilateralism in partnership with ECOWAS.

The high-level dialogue, themed “ECOWAS at 49: Regionalism, Democracy, and Development in West Africa: Building Blocks to Strengthening Multilateralism,” was live-streamed by UN Web TV. It aimed to foster a collective understanding of ECOWAS’s approach to addressing ongoing challenges and the continued relevance of regionalism for democracy, sustainable development, and enhanced multilateralism.

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