ECOWAS’s swift use of force declaration in Niger criticized

ECOWAS's swift use of force

ECOWAS’s swift use of force declaration in Niger criticized – The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has come under scrutiny for its swift declaration of intent to use force to restore constitutional order in Niger, without fully exploring diplomatic dialogue options. International Relations Expert and Associate Professor at the University of Ghana’s School of Law, Kwadwo Appiagyei-Atua, voiced his criticism of ECOWAS’s approach.

Regional bloc

ECOWAS, a regional bloc consisting of 15 member states, had initially issued a one-week ultimatum for Niger’s military government to restore power to the democratically elected government, a deadline that expired on August 6. In response to the situation, ECOWAS then warned of potential sanctions against the military government and indicated the readiness to employ military force if deemed necessary.

Approaching the situation cautiously

Professor Appiagyei-Atua, speaking on the Morning Starr show with Naa Dedei Tettey, pointed out that there are currently two distinct administrations in Niger – the democratically elected government led by President Bazoum and the military junta. He suggested that ECOWAS could engage in dialogue using the legitimate government’s invitation to address the situation. He emphasized the importance of approaching the situation cautiously and strategically.

The professor noted that while some past scenarios have seen the United Nations Security Council use retroactive approval for interventions in West Africa, the critical factor is the preservation of democratic values and the careful consideration of each situation’s nuances. He suggested that rather than framing the intervention as an opposition against the military regime, ECOWAS could approach it as supportive of a sitting government seeking assistance.

United Nations Security Council

Addressing the potential involvement of the United Nations Security Council, Professor Appiagyei-Atua indicated that this argument may not be as relevant when there are democratic structures in place. He highlighted the significance of military and security experts analyzing the situation to ensure a well-informed approach.

In the midst of these discussions, thousands of individuals in Niger responded to a call for civilian auxiliaries to support the armed forces. Organized outside the main stadium in Niamey on August 19, 2023, this initiative was carried out independently of the junta, although the military was aware of the event. This development reflects the complex dynamics surrounding the political situation in the country.

As ECOWAS continues to navigate its response to the evolving situation in Niger, experts and stakeholders are closely watching how diplomatic measures align with the bloc’s commitment to upholding democratic principles and stability in the region.

ECOWAS’s swift use of force declaration in Niger criticized