A GNA feature by Iddi Z. Yire
Accra, March 27, GNA – The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), has chalked out another success, following the recent launch of a book: “Strides and Strains of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in West Africa: The WANEP Story.”
The book, which gives an overview of the WANEP’s 17 years of peace building practice in West Africa, reminds the public of the outcome of years of hard work, perseverance and dedication of the organisation staff over the years.
The launch of the book, which was performed in Accra early this year by Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General for West Africa and the Sahel, and chaired by Mr Alain Marcel Da Souza, the ECOWAS Commission President, shows the significance the UN and ECOWAS attach to the role of WANEP in Africa.
In attendance were Dr Sam G. Doe, the first Executive Director and Co-founder of WANEP and Mr Emmanuel H. Bombande, the second Executive Director and Co-founder of WANEP.
This story would not have been possible without the vision of the co-founders: Dr Doe and Mr Bombande and all those institutions and individuals, who supported the dream and gave it meaning.
Indeed, the legacy of WANEP which these gallant men of Africa proudly contributed to, will continually keep them peaceful even in the world beyond.
Their dream is today translated into a household name in peace and security in Africa with more than 100 staff and 500 members across the Region.
This is the story of WANEP! An audacious step by non –state actors to contribute and complement state efforts at rebuilding the aftermath of the senseless wars and destruction which led to wanton loss of lives.
Over the past 30 years, the West African sub-region has witnessed a series of intra-state conflicts in most countries, with the escalating full scale civil wars as in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote d’Ivoire, leading to death, destruction and public despair.
The devastating effects of these conflicts caused governments and inter-governmental agencies in the sub-region not only to consciously identify the root causes but also to seek collaborative efforts with CSOs to reduce them.
It was within this context that WANEP was established to promote human security and development in West Africa and the rest of Africa.
Thus, conceived in 1996, WANEP was officially launched in 1998 in response to civil wars that had plagued the West African sub-region in the 1990s.
The Executive Director of WANEP Chukwuemeka B. Eze, said the WANEP was a story of Africans, by Africans, and for Africans and had become an attitude rather than just an organisation.
“WANEP was clear from inception that it was going to adopt the approach of locating empowering, and accompanying civic power and agency to build peace.
“This approach has not only proven to be effective but has transformed a good number of its current and former staff from the state obscurity in peace practice to enviable heights,” he added.
Dr Chambas said WANEP, since its establishment in 1998 had contributed immensely to the quest for peace and stability in the Region, and had, steadily, become an outstanding reference among CSOs across the West African region.
Mr Da Souza remarked that the wisdom of ECOWAS to formally collaborate with CSOs and in particular WANEP was in line with the ECOWAS vision of transforming itself from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of Peoples.
"Ever since, the emphasis on human security became enshrined in international normative frameworks and adopted by ECOWAS as the undergirding principle for its Regional Conflict Prevention programme.
He said the issue of peace and security could no longer be the sole preserve of governments. "Building peace and ensuring human security is the collective responsibility of all stakeholders.
"Governments everywhere have come to recognise and accept the critical role of civil society in complementing its efforts at building peace and sustainable development."
The book is divided into six chapters with an introduction and conclusion.
To put the book in proper perspective, Chapter One provides a comprehensive overview of the peace and security milieu in West Africa within which civil society organisation like WANEP emerged in the late 1990s.
While the focus is on the general security landscape of West Africa in the 1990s emphasis is also placed on current peace and security challenges as well.
The purpose of this overview is not provide an exhaustive review of the available data on West Africa conflicts but to establish a working foundation for the discussion on the assumptions, approaches, and mechanism of WANEP for dealing with these conflicts from a peace building perspective .
Furthermore, this chapter explores the role of the Economic Community of West African states and its members states as well as civil society in tackling these security challenges, it also situates WANEP within the framework of multi-track diplomacy to establish its relevance as a track II and V diplomacy response to West Africa’s challenges of conflict, instability and insecurity.
Chapter Two discusses the origins and institutional development of WANEP since its establishment in 1998.
Tracing its emergency as a peace building organisation, this chapter examines the charging structure of WANEP in terms of staffing and governance and how it has been also to carve a niche for itself as a strong and resilient network through the adoption of achievable goals, principles, vision and mission statement.
The Third chapter relates about theory to civil society peace building in West Africa.
The discussion in this section is done under three main thematic areas namely, capacity building (which includes the West Africa peace building institute-WAPI story, Active Non-violence and peace education): Women in peace building program: and Early Warning and Early Response Network (including, Dialogue and Mediation, Election Management and Democratic Governance).
The other special intervention programmes of WANEP were also highlighted and briefly discussed.
Chapter Four of the book looks at the concept of networking and the kind of networking WANEP does and how it links to collaborative approaches to peace building, moreover, it discusses the challenges and prospects of networking as practiced by WANEP.
In the course of its development from 1998 till date, partnerships with various stakeholders have played a key role in the attainment of its goals and objectives.
Therefore, chapter Five deals with how WANEP has built and sustained strategic partnerships with various institutions and donors at the global, continental, regional and state levels respectively.
The chapter also explores the experience of WANEP in managing these multiple donors and partnerships.
Chapter six examines transitions within civil society organisation using the experiences of WANEP.
It especially discusses WANEP transition and strategic planning processes as stipulated in its succession plan.
It is interesting to note that many organisations have either ceased to exist or gone down after the transition of their leadership, but the case of WANEP had success story, from the transition of the first Executive Director, Dr Doe to Mr Bomdande to the current Executive Director, Mr Eze.
WANEP has demonstrate the capacity of managing successful transitions without any negative impact on the organisation. The book shares the experience of WANEP in managing successful transition taking its succession plan policy into consideration.
In line with its principle to build collaborative partnership for peacebuilding, WANEP has since 1998 cultivated strategic partnership with an array of national, regional and international levels to establish platforms for sharing experiences and best practices so as to avoid duplication efforts.
In fact, the WANEP success story, deserves commendation, the organisation needs the support of all and sundry as part of efforts to help promote the West Africa sub-region’s security, peace and development.