West Africa: Code of Conduct for Armed Forces and Security Services in West Africa
The Supplementary Act on the Code of Conduct for Armed Forces and Security Services of ECOWAS (the Code of Conduct) is an effort, based on a partnership between DCAF and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, to provide specific confidence-building measures and minimal behavioural requirements for the armed and security forces in ECOWAS member states.
DCAF supports the elaboration and the adoption of the Code of Conduct at the regional level, and will support the implementation of the Code both in texts and in practice in ECOWAS member states. More specifically, the project aims at:
- Reinforcing the normative framework for the democratic control of the armed forces and security services.
- Promoting the development of common minimal behavioural standards among the armed forces and security services.
- Increasing the effectiveness and legitimacy of the armed forces and security services.
- Reinforcing civil-security relations as well as the effective contribution of civil society to the democratic control of armed forces and security services.
The Code of Conduct reaffirms democratic constitutional principles, human rights and international humanitarian law standards contained in international and ECOWAS regional treaties. It seeks to support a fundamental shift in the way security is perceived, managed, controlled and overseen, coupled with positive change in the attitude and conduct of security actors.
The adoption process began with a Memorandum of Understanding between the ECOWAS Executive Secretariat (now Commission) and DCAF, signed in March 2005. See the Terms of reference with the ECOWAS Commission.
ECOWAS and DCAF organised a preparatory meeting which took place in Accra, Ghana, in October 2005. The meeting brought together representatives of armed and security forces, civil society, international organizations, and academia to discuss and consolidate a draft Code of Conduct. Thereafter, an ECOWAS Committee of Experts meeting was held in Lome, Togo in April 2006, to agree on the draft which would be submitted for the consideration of the ECOWAS Defence and Security Commission.
The ECOWAS Defence and Security Commission adopted the draft Code of Conduct in October 2006. It was later adopted by the ECOWAS Committee of Chiefs of Security Services in May 2009 and by the ECOWAS Council of Ministers in August 2011. It will be presented to the ECOWAS Authority of the Heads of State and Government at its next Ordinary Summit.
An implementation strategy will be agreed with the ECOWAS Commission in order to resource, widely promote the dissemination and implementation of the Code of Conduct in West Africa, and to ensure acceptance and support from the broadest range of key stakeholders. Addressing political and military authorities as well as parliamentary and civil society actors is essential to ensure widespread knowledge of and respect for the Code.