Regional Projects in West Africa

Beyond our work on the national level in the West African region, the national offices jointly work on three major issues on the regional level: Economic and Social Policy (FES Benin), Security Policy (FES Nigeria) and Electoral Processes (FES Nigeria). West African country offices also contribute to FES’s work on the continental (African Union) level and to the Global Policy and Development.

Economic and Social Policy

Since 2004, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung appointed the Cotonou office as the Regional Office in charge of coordinating programmes and projects dealing with the issues of international trade and regional integration.

Through this regional project, the FES aims at accompanying its partners in their participation in the process of designing and implementing trade policy and regional integration, thereby enabling them to efficiently contribute to the consolidation of democracy and social justice.

To attain its goals, the FES Cotonou, every year, ensures the organisation of sub-regional seminars that gather key actors such as the parliamentarians, trade unionists, journalists and other civil society actors.

You can find more information on the website of FES Benin with a detailed explanation of the priority areas and strategies, activities and publications.

Security Policy

The lack of security is one of the key impediments to development in West Africa and touches upon basic human rights. Economic and social development, democratisation and security are mutually dependent. As a democracy-promoting political organisation, FES aims at strengthening the interface between democracy and security policy. FES assumes that the security challenges can only be addressed by applying an understanding of security policy that transcends traditional military security policy.

Comprehensive security policy…
• … focuses on the individual and takes into account gender differences;
• … prioritises prevention and over reaction;
• … applies a comprehensive set of instruments;
• … emphasises inclusive processes and democratic control of the security sector;
• … builds on effective regional and multilateral cooperation and integration.

In order to foster an understanding of comprehensive security policy, on a regional level, FES Abudja works on the following aspects:

1. Democratic Control of the Security Sector
2. Strategies against trans-border crime and small arms proliferation
3. Prevention of resource-related conflicts
4. Political dialogue on the regional and continental security architecture

Please find more information here.

Electoral Processes

One key requirement of any democratic system is the conduct of regular and transparent, free and fair elections. However, the management of electoral processes in West Africa generally leaves much to be desired. With elections being a backbone of democracy, yet being contentious and conflict-prone in West Africa, improving electoral processes is of key concern. The regional leverage is useful in this regard: the ECOWAS has already set some norms and principles, organises election observation missions, grants regional support to electoral processes and increasingly works towards peer review, experience-sharing and benchmarking. However, the ECOWAS normative framework is still neither fully comprehensive nor binding, and its domestication is lagging behind. While most international actors pay attention to electoral processes immediately before and after elections, FES, with its long-term approach and partner network, can work on the fundamental structural reforms needed to change the regimes and conduct of actors in electoral processes. FES supports further exchange between experts, ECOWAS institutions and key actors in national electoral processes (e.g. electoral commissions, political parties , security forces and party youths as well as media) on the ECOWAS protocols and engages key stakeholders in a discourse on democratic principles and their conduct in electoral processes.

Please find more information here.