V-7. Four Decades after: Assessing the Politics, Dynamics and Depth of Integration in West Africa

Conveners: Lere Amusan (North-West University, Mafikeng Campus, South Africa); e-mails: Lere.Amusan@nwu.ac.za, lereamusan@gmail.com, Luqman Saka (North-West University, Mafikeng Campus, South Africa); e-mail: owolabisaka@gmail.com

May 2015 marked four decades that the Treaty of Lagos, which formalized the establishment of the Economic Community of West Africa State (ECOWAS) was signed by the organization’s then sixteen Heads of States and Governments. The formation of the ECOWAS was, in part, spurred by the successes recorded by the then European Economic Community (presently the European Union). It was also informed by an understanding that regional integration remains a veritable pathway for promoting socio-economic growth and development in peripheral regions like West Africa. Given some shared socio-political and historical experiences among members facing common economic, political and security challenges, integration was seen as a pragmatic way in addressing these (Ogwu and Alli 2009; Boas 2001). Since its establishment, ECOWAS has recorded modest achievements especially as it relates to the adoption and ratification of treaties, protocols, conventions, and rules seen as central to the realization of the objectives of integration of economies, communities and peoples of West Africa. The most significant of these protocols, treaties and conventions been the: the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Person; Right of Residence and Establishment, 1979; the West African Monetary Agency Protocol, 1993; Protocol on Court of Justice, 1991; Protocol on the Fight against Corruption, 2001; and the Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security of 1999, which institutionalized the earlier ad-hoc ECOWAS peacekeeping outfit, the ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) (Thonke and Spliid 2012; Jaye and Amadi 2011; Adetula 2009; Ogwu and Alli 2009). This said, it is important to note that the process of integration in West Africa through the instrumentality of ECOWAS continue to face numbers of challenges, which have greatly undermine the organization’s efforts at promoting the deepening of economic relations among member states. Curios enough, such challenges are enhancing unhindered interaction among the community citizens across national boundaries (Akokpari 2008). To this end, the need to further the interrogation of the political dynamics, successes and challenges of integration journey embarked upon by West Africa nations in the last four decades continue to be of paramount importance. Informed by this position, this panel seeks contributions from some identified students of economic integration, with special interest in West Africa’s development to interrogate the politics, trends, and dynamics of integration within ECOWAS from theoretical and empirical standpoints. Particularly, it seeks theoretically grounded and empirical informed articles that examine how domestic and sub-region wide politics, weak governance institutions, tensions over the application of community protocols, treaties, rules and conventions especially on factor mobility and tenuous security situation has constrained and weakened the process of integration in West Africa. The identified academic colleagues are not only identified, but also ready to come up with quality papers based on their previous knowledge on ECOWAS policies and politics with emphasis on the implosion of regional integration caused by Brexit.