Under the leadership of the President of the Republic of Ghana, the Commander-in-Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces, and the Chairman of the Authority of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Heads of State and Government, His Excellency (H.E.) Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; and under the Chairmanship of the ECOWAS Special Envoy to Guinea, H.E. Dr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas; the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) and Kofi Annan Foundation held the second edition of the Kofi Annan Peace and Security Forum (hereafter, KAPS Forum) on the theme: ‘Democracy and Governance in the Context of Complex Crises in West Africa’, on 8th and 9th December 2021, in collaboration with the Federal Government of Germany, the Kingdom of Norway, and the Kingdom of Sweden.
The KAPS Forum was also honoured to host H.E. John Agyekum Kufuor, Former President of the Republic of Ghana; H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of the Republic of Liberia; H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma, Former President of the Republic of Sierra Leone; H.E. Kabiné Komara, Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Guinea; and H.E. Lansana Kouyaté, Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Guinea and Former Executive Secretary of ECOWAS.
Distinguished delegates also included representatives of governmental and inter-governmental organisations, United Nations (UN) special envoys, the diplomatic community, development partners, election management bodies, security professionals, policy and research think tanks, academia, peacekeeping training institutions, corporate leaders, and other civil society groups; participating both in person and virtually.
2. Development of the Communiqué
The final communiqué is based on deliberations and conclusions at the KAPS Forum relating to the ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance (hereafter, the Protocol) adopted in 2001. The following sub-themes were discussed either at plenary or in small-group sessions; namely—: Background, Expectations and Significance of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance; Democratic Backsliding in West Africa; Good Governance and Democratic Consolidation in War-to-Peace and Democratic Transitions; Entrenching Constitutionalism; Ensuring Free and Fair Elections; Challenges and Prospects of Balancing Democracy with Countering Violent Extremism; Challenges, Prospects and Lessons with respect to Deepening Democracy in an Age of Pandemic; Youth and Women Participation in Democracy; Electoral Integrity in the Digital Age; and Role and Ethics of Election Monitoring and Observation.
3. The Communiqué
Delegates made the following observations and recommendations during the KAPS Forum:
- The year 2021 marks the 20th Anniversary of the adoption of the Protocol, which seeks to entrench democratic institutions and practices in West Africa.
- The West African region has seen a decline in the incidence of military coup d’états and civil wars, and a rise in instances of peaceful elections and peaceful transfers of
power, in the last 20 years.
- However, in the recent past, the avowed goals of the Protocol are being put to test by multiple sources of threats to security in the region.
- Unconstitutional or illegitimate extensions of term-limits and the interventions of the military in politics are re-emerging at a time when many believed that coup d’états had become things of the past in West Africa.
- These developments are being complicated by the crises resulting from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the challenges posed by violent extremism and radicalisation in West Africa and the Sahel.
- A review of the Protocol has been proposed as part of processes aimed at mobilising effective responses to these challenges. It was against this backdrop that the theme for the second meeting of the KAPS Forum was adopted.
The following recommendations were offered for consideration:
- National stakeholders should promote broad-based political participation and inclusivity in order to bolster the resilience of the state to anti-constitutional and anti-democratic practices;
- ECOWAS Member States should explore alternative options to the politics of winner-takes-all as a means to forging greater participation and inclusion;
- ECOWAS Member States should invest in forms of education that promote the cultivation of civic, democratic and peace cultures;
- Consideration should be given to the implementation of policies by States to transition from the culture of elections towards the consolidation of democratic cultures;
- ECOWAS Member States should consider the adoption of constitutional provisions that stipulate the maximum age limit at which a person can legally contest for the office of president;
- Consideration should be given to the adoption of specific legal provisions that prevent the concentration of power in the hands of the Executive, as a means to promoting the rule of law and political accountability in West African States;
- ECOWAS Member States should redefine the idea of the public interest to reflect the priorities and needs of all segments of society;
- ECOWAS Member States should take steps to strengthen the independence and technical capacities of election management bodies in order to deliver credible electoral outcomes that reflect the will of the citizens;
- ECOWAS Member States should consider adopting measures to ensure effective regulation of the use and abuse of digital technologies in electoral processes as well as online discourses in order to prevent misinformation and hate speech;
- Civil society groups should reinvigorate their participation, engagement, and neutrality in the political arena in order to counter tendencies and practices that give rise to democratic reversals;
- ECOWAS Member States should adopt policies and programmes aimed at removing patriarchal structures which diminish women’s experiences in political spaces, while promoting women’s leadership and political participation across the scales and sites of society;
- ECOWAS should adopt specific provisions in the proposed revised Protocol that emphasize zero-tolerance for constitutional manipulation, with a mandatory two-term presidential term-limit for all Member States;
- ECOWAS should engage more proactively with Member States in ways that promote constitutionalism, the rule of law, and accountability, in order to obviate or minimise the need for crisis response or the imposition of sanctions;
- ECOWAS should collaborate effectively with institutions of thought leadership in the creation of regional norms and their diffusion particularly to local contexts in order to enhance the prospects for transformational changes; and
- The youth should be recognised as critical stakeholders in democracy, development, and in the peace and security of their states.
WHEREUPON, We the under listed, Commandant of KAIPTC, Chairman of the Kofi Annan Foundation, and Chairman of the KAPS Forum append our signatures to this Communiqué on the date below:
Adopted in Accra on 9th December, 2021; issued in Accra on 26th January, 2022.
MAJOR GENERAL FRANCIS OFORI
Commandant, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC)
MR. ELHADJ AS SY
Chairman of the Board, Kofi Annan Foundation
H.E. DR. MOHAMED IBN CHAMBAS
Chairman of the Kofi Annan Peace and Security Forum and ECOWAS Special Envoy to Guinea