The institutionalisation of mediation support within the ECOWAS Commission

The institutionalisation of mediation support within the ECOWAS Commission

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission established the Mediation Facilitation Division (MFD) in June 2015 to backstop mediation efforts undertaken by its mediation organs, member states, non-state actors and joint initiatives with other international organisations, such as the African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations (UN). In January 2016, the structure was further upgraded to a directorate within the Department of Political Affairs, Peace and Security (PAPS).

This Policy & Practice Brief (PPB) examines the rationale for taking the bold step to institutionalise a mediation support structure within the ECOWAS Commission; the legal and normative instruments that underpin its mediation interventions; the mandate, vision and scope of operation of the mediation support structure; and the key activities undertaken by the structure within one year of its existence. The PPB identifies the uniqueness of ECOWAS’s experiences in interventions in the 1990s, and the subsequent importance accorded to preventive diplomacy and mediation as a key factor that informed the decision to establish a mediation support structure -  in contrast to using an ad hoc arrangement to backstop its mediation efforts in the past. This new arrangement, the PPB argues, will ensure that mistakes such as the marginalisation of ECOWAS in mediation processes in the region, the disconnect between the ECOWAS Commission and its appointed mediators, facilitators and special envoys, are remedied. It will also ensure a coordinated approach to capacity building and mediation knowledge management within the ECOWAS Commission and its institutions, as well as with its partners, including mainstreaming Tracks II and III mediation into official Track I mediation.

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