Terrorism, Collective Security and Regional Cooperation

 In Regional Issues

The African Union and the Economic Community of West African States


The ideals behind the formation of the Organization of African Unity in addition to protecting the sovereignty of the member states included economic and developmental goals. Chirisa et al, state that the founding fathers of the organization “saw African nations coming together into a single government that would work for the realization of equity in resource allocation in a bid to create a stronger force to vehemently compete in the world market and hence result in their voice being heard”.[1] Regional cooperation is meant to lead to greater integration among the nations involved on several fronts, i.e. economic, social and environmental. Some writers have put forward that regional cooperation is also a function of the interactions amongst nations. They state that regional cooperation itself is a form of integration which is still part of a complex phenomenon comprising of market, development and regional integration.[2]

History provides us with evidence of pre-colonial and colonial structures for regional integration in the West African region. Though created to enhance the extraction and exploitation of the natural resources of the region, the French (Communaute Financiere Africaine in 1948 in Senegal, Mali, Burkina-Faso) and the British (West African Currency Board in 1912 in Ghana, Gambia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone)[3] established networks that made this possible.[4] In the writer’s opinion, these colonial arrangements may have served as indicators to the emerging nationalists that regional integration was not only possible but economically beneficial. 

Regional cooperation is essentially a voluntary collaboration, inter alia, for the execution of joint projects and development of common resources. This may be for the overarching purpose of creating access to markets and the establishment of mechanisms and techniques that minimize conflicts and maximize internal and external economic, political, social and cultural benefits.[5] From the foregoing, it is obvious that cross boarder acts of terrorism can destabilize this overarching purpose and negatively affect the process of integration and cooperation. Also, the existence of conflict can influence those affected to work together for mutual safety. This is reinforced by the notion that successful integration requires a peaceful environment. The development of collective security as a result of conflicts or terrorism is an example of a bitter seed producing a usable fruit: terrorism is harmful but has the potential to lead to broader and enhanced cooperation for the purposes of promoting peace and security. The networks built to ensure safety contribute to providing a safe environment for social and economic development. Click here to download the full article


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