Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

Communauté Economique des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (CEDEAO)

Member States

Founding members

Other members

Mauritania (founding member) withdrew its membership in 2000.


Abuja, Nigeria

Date of creation

28 May 1975


ECOWAS aims to promote cooperation and integration. It aims to establish an economic union in west Africa in order to raise the living standards of its peoples, and to maintain and enhance economic stability, foster relations among member states, and contribute to the progress and development of the African continent. While its objectives were initially limited to economic cooperation, emerging political events led to the revision and expansion of the AU’s scope of cooperation to include the maintenance of regional peace, stability, and security through promoting and strengthening good neighbourliness.


1975 Creation of ECOWAS
2007 Executive Secretariat turned into the ECOWAS Commission
2013 First ECOWAS/ECCAS joint summit (launch of Yaoundé process)
2014 ECOWAS Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) is renamed ECOWAS Standby Force
2018 Second joint ECOWAS/ECCAS summit on peace and security and the fight against terrorism and violent extremism

Normative framework

1975 Signature of ECOWAS Treaty
1978 Protocol on Non-Aggression
1981 Protocol on Mutual Assistance Defence
1991 Declaration of Political Principles
1993 Revised Treaty of ECOWAS
1998 Moratorium on the Importation, Exportation, and Manufacture of Small Arms and Light Weapons in West Africa
1998 Signing of Protocol on Relations between the African Economic Community (AEC) and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs)
1999 Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peace Keeping and Security
2001 Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance
2006 Adoption of the ECOWAS Cross-border Convention
2006 Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials
2008 ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF)
2008 Signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Cooperation in the Area of Peace and Security between the AU, RECs and the Coordinating Mechanisms of the Regional Stand-by Brigades of Eastern and Northern Africa
2013 Political Declaration and Common Position Against Terrorism
2014 Integrated Maritime Strategy
2014 Consistency and Regional Action Programme in West Africa for the Stability and Development of the Saharan-Sahelian Areas (Programme de coherence et d’action regionales de l’Afrique de l’Ouest pour la stabilité et le développement des espaces sahélo-sahariens – PCAR)
2014 Adoption of the Policy Framework on the establishment of early warning and rapid response
2016 Adoption of the ECOWAS Policy Framework for Security Sector Reform and Governance


Political dialogue

Date Institutions Agreement
1996 EU First meeting of EU-ECOWAS Ministerial Troika
United Nations ECOWAS Permanent Representative appointed
European Union ECOWAS Liaison Office opened
2008 African Union ECOWAS Liaison Office opened
2002 West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) Memorandum of Understanding; WANEP Liaison Officer appointed to ECOWAS
2013 ECOWAS, LGA, Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS), Niger Basin Authority (ABN), African Center of Meteorological Applications for Development (ACMAD) Signature of the Agreement establishing the Framework for Consultation, Cooperation, and Partnership between West African Intergovernmental Organisations [Protocole d’accord portant creation du cadre de concertation, de cooperation et de partenariat entre les organisations intergouvernementales de l’Afrique de l’Ouest]
2013 Liptako Gourma Authority Memorandum of Understanding on cross-border issues [Accord de cooperation transfrontalière]
2014 WAEMU Signing of agreement setting out the arrangements for cooperation between ECOWAS and WAEMU
2018 WAEMU Signing of Memorandum of Understanding between ECOWAS and WAEMU for conflict and crisis prevention in west Africa

Governance and development

Areas Date Activities
Justice 1991 Establishment of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice
Election observation mission 2008 Establishment of the ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions to facilitate the sharing of experience and work towards the harmonisation of electoral standards in west Africa
Election observation mission ECOWAS send electoral observers regularly
Cross-border security 2005 Cross-Border Initiatives Programme (CIP), which aims consists of compiling, coordinating, and formalising west African cross-border initiatives to increase cooperation frameworks on intracommunity borders
Cross-border security 2009-2013 ECOWAS cross-border cooperation Pilot Operation Programme
Cross-border security 2017 ECOWAS cross-border cooperation programme 2017-2021: a multi-sectoral development programme working with local communities in border regions to ensure cohesion and social construction.
Security sector reform (SSR) 2011 Drafting of the Code of Conduct for the Armed Forces and Security Services of ECOWAS – discussed but not yet validated
Security sector reform (SSR) 2018 Adoption of the ECOWAS Five-Year Plan of Action to implement the Policy Framework for Security Sector Reform and Governance 2019-2023

Peace and security

Activity  Date Description
Multinational operation 1990-1998 ECOWAS monitoring group (ECOMOG) in Liberia
1997-2000 ECOMOG in Sierra Leone
1998-1999 ECOMOG Guinea-Bissau
2003-2004 ECOWAS mission in Côte d’Ivoire (ECOMICI)
2003 ECOWAS mission in Liberia (ECOMIL)
2012 ECOWAS mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIG)
2013 African-led International Support Mission to Mali (AFISMA)
2017 “Restore Democracy” in Gambia
ECOWAS standby force Since 2006 Joint training exercises in Senegal (2006, 2007), in Burkina Faso (2009), in Benin (2010) and in Addis Ababa (2010), in Ghana (2011).
Fight against crime 2000 Creation of Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) in Dakar
Fight against crime 2008 Adoption of regional action plan against drug trafficking and transnational crime
Maritime issues 2016 Establishment of Regional Coordination Centre for Maritime Security in West Africa (CRESMAO)
Mediation 2015 Creation of Mediation Facilitation Division
Mediation Strong track record related to fact-finding,

mediation, facilitation, negotiation, and reconciliation missions – appointment of Special Envoys.

Early warning 2003 Creation of four zone offices – the last one was closed in 2019 following the reform of the early warning mechanism in 2014
Early warning 2017 Opening of the first National Centre for the Coordination of Early Warning and Response Mechanism (NCCEWRM) in Bamako
Early warning 2018 Opening of NCCEWRM in Burkina Faso, Liberia (February), Côte d’Ivoire (May) and Guinea-Bissau (July)
Police 2010 Creation of West African Police Information System (WAPIS) to facilitate the collection, centralisation, management, sharing and analysis of police information
Prevention of violent extremism 2013 Creation of anti-terrorist coordination unit, an ECOWAS arrest warrant, and a blacklist of terrorist and criminal networks.
Small arms and light weapons (SALW) 2020 Workshop to develop Standard Operating Procedures guidelines towards the experimentation of the implementation of Article 19 of the ECOWAS Convention on SALW