A three-day workshop themed: “From Integration of States to Integration of Peoples in West Africa: Broadening Dialogue to Embrace Civil Society”, has opened in Ouagadougou.
The workshop is to familiarize the civil society in West Africa with the new vision of ECOWAS and the Economic and Monetary Union of West Africa (UEMOA) and help deepen the regional integration process.
The workshop, which is being organized by
ECOWAS and UEMOA in collaboration with the European Union, will seek to share views with members of the civil society in the region on the current vision for integration as elaborated in the strategic plans of the two organizations.
Participants will be expected to make recommendations on improving the working relationship and enhancing the cooperation between the two regional institutions charged with the implementation of the integration programme and civil society organizations in West Africa.
It is expected that the workshop will help in creating a suitable environment for the building of capacities in the civil society with a view to ensuring the consolidation of the regional integration process.
In this regard, a Civil Society Fund could be established to ensure a more effective participation of community citizens in the integration process. In December 2003, ECOWAS encouraged the creation of the West African Civil Society Forum (WACSOF) to maintain dialogue with it and civil society organizations in member states. Since then, more challenges have been identified.
At their last summit in January 2008 in Ouagadougou, regional leaders declared the transiting from the integration of states to integration of people, in line with the transformation of ECOWAS institutions to make them more effective in the implementation of integration programmes.
This transition has compelled the development of partnerships, one key player being the civil society, with which ECOWAS seeks to deepen relations.