Speech by Edward Kallon, at 12th Annual ECOWAS-Development Partners’ Coordination Meeting

Nov 8, 2017

Edward Kallon speaks at 12th Annual ECOWAS-Development Partners’ Coordination Meeting (Photo, UNDP Nigeria/Lucky Musonda)

On behalf of the UN system in Nigeria, it is my honour and pleasure to join you all in this 12th ECOWAS Development Partners Annual Coordination Meeting under the theme:  Regional Integration in West Africa: What contribution from the Development Partners? This topical theme is central and relevant to the sub-region’s development challenges and the global development framework- the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa Union Agenda 2063.

The Partners’ Annual event over the years, has created a network of stakeholders not only among governments and civil society organizations but also the international development partners. The event has become a forum for cross fertilization of best practices, gathering of ideas and also sharing of experiences and best practices on pertinent issues capable of moving the West African region forward.  I therefore commend the effort of the ECOWAS Commission for assembling people of diverse experience and competence to deliberate on this year’s theme in the next two days.

We at the United Nations consider ECOWAS Commission as a strategic partner in promoting values of good governance, human rights, peace and stability, and progressive attainment of regional integration in the West-African sub-region.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen;

From the body of knowledge and the literature of experts, regional economic integration is much broader than efforts to simply liberalize trade. It also includes investments in regional infrastructure, harmonization of regulations and standards, common approaches to macroeconomic policy, management of shared natural resources, and greater labour mobility.  Human development is about creating the conditions that allow people to live dignified lives they value by expanding their freedoms and building their capabilities.

Regional economic integration is an important tool the Commission can use to ensure ECOWAS strategic participation in the global trading system. Economic integration is a precondition for enhanced economic performance and the emergence of the ECOWAS region as an important player on the continental and global economic scenes. We laud the very commendable efforts towards Regional Integration, including, but not limited to the near universal application of Common External Tariffs; but we are also aware that many obstacles remain on the path to complete integration.

As the UN system, we look forward to deepening our collaboration with the Commission in addressing the remaining obstacles including the harmonization and complete integration of systems and the disparate institutional and human resource capacities across the different countries.     

Your Excellencies,

The United Nations partnership with ECOWAS has been nurtured and growing stronger over the years. The number of the UN Agencies, Fund and Programmes with enhanced technical cooperation and accreditation to ECOWAS has also increased between 2016-2017. At the last count, 11 out of the over 20 UN agencies in Nigeria have partnership and cooperation arrangements with ECOWAS providing critical and catalytic technical and financial support to some important initiatives of ECOWAS. For instance;

  1. UNDP has just signed an MOU with the Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS) Commission to amongst others work towards the operationalization of the Conflict Prevention Framework document. In addition, ECOWAS-EU-UNDP partnership on Small Arms and Light Weapons support seeks to address the underlying causes of Small Arms and Light Weapons proliferation in order to create and move towards peaceful and weapons-free communities, whilst reducing armed conflicts in the in the sub-region;
  2. UNICEF has made significant progress on Child protection regional response systems with the adoption of the ECOWAS Strategic Framework for Strengthening National Child Protection Systems to prevent and respond to Violence, Abuse and Exploitation against Children in West Africa. The ECOWAS Child Policy and Strategic Plan of Action has been updated;
  3. IOM and ILO are supporting Free Movement of Persons and Migration in West Africa to maximize the development potential of free movement with a focus on the Migration Dialogue for West Africa, development of policies and guidelines on border management, free movement, labour migration and labour migration information system;
  4. ILO is also supporting to enhance decent work within the ECOWAS region towards achieving SDG 8, and is currently supporting the Commission in developing its sub-regional Decent Work Programme and elimination of Trafficking in Persons by developing a tool to strengthen Law Enforcement coordination mechanism in combating Trafficking in Persons within the region;
  5. UNHCR has signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a framework for a multi-sectorial co-operation covering areas of mutual interests in protection of refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons (IDPs), stateless persons and other vulnerable people, promotion of legal both regional and international instruments on refugees IDPs; adoption of the Banjul Plan of Action for the Eradication of Statelessness in West Africa;
  6. UN Women is collaborating with the Mano River Union to reflect on progress made in the implementation of UNSCR 1325;
  7. UNODC is supporting the Regional Action Plan on illicit drug trafficking, organized crime related to it and drug abuse in West Africa; West African Central Authorities and Prosecutors against Organized Crime network of focal points of the 15 ECOWAS countries; strengthening criminal investigation and criminal justice cooperation along the cocaine route in Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa;
  8. WMO is strengthening the adaptation to climate change and variability through enhanced weather, climate and water services in the ECOWAS region; collaboration with National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in the ECOWAS to formulate the ECOWAS Meteorology Programme;
  9. UNIADS is supporting the commencement of the implementation of the Catch-Up Plan and the Political Declaration on Ending AIDS in Africa and ECOWAS; and
  10. UNFPA and UNESCO are supporting regional reproductive health and demographic dividend, among other.
Your Excellencies;

With many opportunities and challenges in development and humanitarian fronts in the sub-region, we should explore an enhanced cooperation and partnerships with UN agencies and organizations on the many emerging areas of ECOWAS’ programmes that the UN has comparative advantage, especially in the implementation of the SDGs and the established ECOWAS Thematic Groups.

On this note, I wish to assure ECOWAS that, the United Nations system stands ready to play its role in support of the numerous opportunities and emerging mandates of the Commission and its regional partners. We hope to work with the ECOWAS Commission and member states, through our network of country offices, to support the monitoring and reporting of progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals in order to promote cross- country learning and experience sharing. The UN system will bring best practice, global experience and expertise in this partnership with member’s states of ECOWAS as we work closely with all international partners, CSOs, and governments in building an even stronger ECOWAS and stronger regional integration for our people.

The UN stands with ECOWAS in its journey towards the transformation from an ECOWAS of the leadership into an ECOWAS of the people.        

I thank you for your attention!

Communications Specialist

Lucky Musonda

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