The two-day meeting of the ECOWAS Council of the Wise ended on 25th May 2021 in Accra with the orientation of nominees to the Council and the appointment of its leadership.
Former President of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was appointed as Chair while Madam Hadja Saran Daraba, former Executive Secretary of the Mano River Union of Guinea will serve as Vice Chair in the newly reconstituted Council.
The ECOWAS Council of the Wise was established by the 1999 Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping, and Security, making it a key pillar in ECOWAS' Peace and Security Architecture as a supporting organ to the region's Mediation and Security Council.
Created specifically for preventive diplomacy and mediation interventions in Member States, the Council's functionality diminished over time. However, the rising insecurity and recently generated socio-political tensions as well as their impact on structural and proximate peace and security have "reinforced the need to urgently have a new Council of the Wise composed to assist ECOWAS in delivering on its peace and stability mandate as a necessary condition for continuous development and regional integration efforts", according to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana, Ms Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, in her opening remarks at the meeting in Accra.
"The two-day orientation workshop is seen as pertinent, as it is intended to update Your Excellencies through presentations of horizontal scanning of the current peace and security situation in the region, the relevant ECOWAS legal and normative instruments, policy documents, including ECOWAS Mediation Guidelines, and the Statute, which outlines the mandate, composition, functions, and mode of operations of the Council of the Wise", she told the nominees to the Council.
She stated that the nominees to the Council of the Wise were availing their experiences and expertise in conflict prevention and resolution for the good of the entire ECOWAS Community.
Expressing similar optimism in his opening speech, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, stated that with "the array of the nominated eminent personalities, the reconstituted Council of the Wise is now ready to discharge spelt out duties as mediators, conciliators and facilitators in the management and resolution of disputes and conflicts in the region".
The President of the Commission who was represented by the institution's Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Gen. Francis Behanzin, further expressed the conviction that the wealth of experience of the nominees would positively contribute to mitigating and resolving the growing regional peace and security challenges in West Africa.
The appointments of nominees to the Council of the Wise by Member States reflect a gender parity and inclusivity that is necessary for participatory political process and sustainable peace in the region, in accordance with the United Nations Ssecurity Council Resolution 1325, which promotes the inclusion of women in peace and security matters.
The ECOWAS Council of the Wise is expected to be affiliated to the Pan-African Network of the Wise (PANWISE) to serve as its regional structure in line with the principle of subsidiarity.
The Pan-African Network of the Wise (PANWISE) was established in 2013 to foster coherence, collaboration, and complementarity in the field of preventive diplomacy and mediation between the Regional Economic Communities and the African Union Commission.