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Sub-Regional Security Co-Operation and Conflict Management in West Africa:The Ecomog Experience

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Sub-Regional Security Co-Operation and Conflict Management in West Africa:The Ecomog Experience.


This thesis examined the experience of the ECOWAS Monitoring Group, ECOMOG, in conflict management in the intra-state conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone between 1990 and 2000, when ECOMOG’s operation lasted.

The specific objective of the study was the evaluation of the experience of ECOMOG, as a mechanism of subregional security cooperation, and how it conducted peace operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone under Chapter VII of the UN charter.

It appraised the conceptual and theoretical framework for conflict management, especially peacekeeping and peace enforcement operations. The research relied on primary sources and secondary data sources.

The case study method of analysis as well as tables to summarize some of the information found was used. The research provided an in-depth study of the ECOMOG peace enforcement strategy in Liberia and Sierra Leone as well as rendered an evaluation of the experiences of ECOMOG.

It also provided lessons from the ECOMOG experience and rendered appropriate recommendations. It noted that ECOMOG’s peace operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone had raised complex issues about the legitimacy, competence, effectiveness and neutrality of subregional security mechanisms in conflict management.

It argued that: i) regional and sub-regional organizations have a growing role in peace operations under Chapter vii and viii of the UN Charter; ii) the ECOMOG experience in peace operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone had raised serious questions about consent,

competence, effectiveness and neutrality of subregional organizations in peace operations; and, iii) the experience of ECOMOG provide lessons for future peace operations by subregional organizations in intra-state conflicts.


Background of Study

The deteriorating security situation across the globe, especially the growing incidence of intra-state conflicts, along with its attendant impact, has become a ma- jor source of concern to the international community.

Intra-state conflicts occur within states, not only by regular armies but also by militia and armed civilians with ill-defined chains of command. The parties to the dispute or the belligerents may or may not have professional armies or organized groups responding reliably to a chain of command.

The conflicts may take place within a functioning state or within a failing or failed state. Rogue, undisciplined elements or paramilitary units may be present.

Decisions by the leaders may not bind the subordinate elements. Loosely organized groups of irregulars, criminal syndicates, or other hostile ele- ments of the population may be present.

There are usually multiple parties, each having a different agenda. Disputing or belligerent forces may range from insur- gent forces to large military forces with ground, air, and maritime capabilities.

Weapons may range from conventional munitions and mines to weapons of mass destruction such as nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) devices. Modern weapons systems may include surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles as well as long-range mortars.

The world has experienced 229-armed conflicts, after World War II (1946– 2003), in 148 countries. Of these, 116 conflicts in 78 countries were active in the period after the end of the Cold War (1989–2003).

Most conflicts were internal: only seven interstate armed conflicts were recorded in the period 1989–2003, of which two were still active in 2003 (Eriksson, 2004:3; Eriksson, Wallensteen & Sollenberg, 2003; Wallensteen and Sollenberg 2000:7-9; Holsti 1995:320-21;


Abdullah, I., and Muana, P., (1998) ‘The Revolutionary United Front of Sierra Leone’, in Clapham, Christopher (ed.), Africa Guerrillas, James Currey, Oxford.

Aboagye, C. F. (1999) ECOMOG: A Subregional Experience in Conflict Resolution, Management and Peacekeeping in Liberia, Accra, Ghana: Sedco Enterprise.

Adebajo, A., (2002) Liberia’s Civil War: Nigeria, ECOMOG and Regional Security in West Africa, USA : Lynne Rienner Publishers, International Peace Academy.

Aderiye, S. (1992) ‘ECOMOG Landing,’ in M. A. Vogt (ed.), The  Liberian  Crisis and ECOMOG: A Bold Attempt at Regional Peacekeeping, Lagos: Gabumo.

Adetula, V.A.O. (2005) ‘Development, Conflict and Peace Building in Africa’ in Best, S.G. (ed.), Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies in West Africa, Ibadan: Spectrum Books Ltd.

Adisa, J. (1992) ‘The Politics of Regional Military Cooperation: The Case of ECOMOG’, in Vogt, M.A. (ed.), The Liberian Crisis and ECOMOG: A Bold Attempt at Regional Peacekeeping, Lagos: Gabumo Publishing Co. Ltd.

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