Recently, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger countries announced their immediate withdrawal from the West African bloc ECOWAS.

Reasons for withdrawal:

  • Tensions between the Sahel nations and ECOWAS escalated due to coups in Niger (2023), Burkina Faso (2022), and Mali (2020). These nations faced suspension and heavy sanctions from ECOWAS.
  • The three countries, struggling with jihadist violence and poverty, formed an “Alliance of Sahel States” and criticized ECOWAS.
  • They accused the bloc of bad faith, and the French military withdrawal from the Sahel raised concerns about conflicts spreading southward to the Gulf of Guinea states.
  • The Prime Minister appointed by Niger’s military regime criticized ECOWAS for shunning a planned meeting, expressing disappointment at the lack of dialogue and heavy economic sanctions.

About ECOWAS: 

  • ECOWAS, which stands for the Economic Community of West African States, is a regional economic union of 15 West African countries.
  • It was established on May 28, 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos by 15 West African nations. 
  • The main objectives of ECOWAS are to promote economic integration and cooperation among its member states to foster development and stability among West African countries.

Goals and Objectives of ECOWAS:

  • Economic Integration: To establish a common market and the development of a roadmap for the adoption of a single currency, the “Eco.”
  • Free Movement of Persons, Goods, and Services: To promote the free movement of people, goods, and services within the region, eliminating barriers to trade and fostering economic cooperation.
  • Cross-Border Cooperation: To promote cross-border cooperation to address issues such as transnational crime, illegal migration, and public health challenges.
  • Conflict Prevention and Resolution: It plays a role in conflict prevention, resolution, peacekeeping missions, and mediation efforts in the West African region.
  • Promotion of Agriculture and Industry: To develop and promote agriculture and industry within the region to enhance self-sufficiency and economic growth.
  • Social and Cultural Integration: To foster social and cultural integration among member states to strengthen the sense of community and solidarity in West Africa.

Member States of ECOWAS: 

  • Benin; Burkina Faso; Cape Verde; Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire); Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Liberia; Mali; Niger; Nigeria; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Togo; Gambia.
  • NOTE: India enjoys Observer status in ECOWAS.

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