On 11 and 12 June 2012, the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) jointly convened a successful Regional Policy Forum on the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) in Abuja, Nigeria. At the meeting ECOWAS affirmed its commitment to R2P and called upon its members to appoint national Focal Points for atrocity prevention.
Opened by the Nigerian Foreign Minister, H.E. Olugbenga Ashiru, the Forum brought together ECOWAS Ambassadors and senior government officials, the ECOWAS Commission, Regional Economic Communities (RECs), the United Nations as well as West African civil society representatives and leading African experts on conflict prevention. Responding to Foreign Minister Ashiru’s call for action, participants discussed strategies to strengthen early warning, encourage political will among member states, and develop mechanisms to better protect populations from mass atrocity crimes.
Participants reaffirmed that ECOWAS has been a global leader in embracing and operationalizing R2P as evidenced by its efforts to save lives in Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. To ensure that ECOWAS continues to effectively uphold R2P, participants recommended enhanced collaboration between ECOWAS’ Early Warning and Response Mechanisms and the African Union, United Nations and relevant civil society organizations. The Forum provided a unique opportunity for such synergies to develop.
At the end of ECOWAS’ first ever Regional Policy Forum on R2P participants committed to continue efforts to implement R2P and save lives.
A communiqué and final report on the Regional Policy Forum on R2P will be released by ECOWAS shortly