Article: ECOWAS protagonists for peace: An internal perspective on policy and community actors in peacemaking interventions
by Habibu Yaya Bappah
In the South African Journal of International Affairs
Volume 25, 2018 - Issue 1: African interventions seen from below: Practices, politics and perceptions on the ground
Pages 83-98 | Published online: 13 Mar 2018
Republished from South African Journal of International Affairs
Despite an increasing academic interest, ECOWAS peacemaking interventions have largely been approached from a top-down perspective. This tends to highlight the roles played by high-level mediators who use ECOWAS and its instruments as the basis for their interventions. Deeper analyses of the undercurrent intra-ECOWAS processes and the role played by community actors, in particular the ECOWAS Commission and its cooperation with civil society organisations, are rare. Yet it is both the high-level policy and the community actors that constitute the protagonists of ECOWAS peacemaking. This article examines the roles of both protagonists in the planning and conduct of ECOWAS peacemaking. Based on secondary sources and insider accounts, it argues that, although policy actors have so far been dominant, community actors play a complementary role, which often goes unnoticed. This is illustrated with empirical examples of ECOWAS peacemaking interventions from the Liberian war in 1990 to the recent case of the Gambia.