Monday, April 20, 2009

Remarks by Robin R. Sanders at ECOWAS Conference

Remarks by Robin R. Sanders

Permanent Representative to ECOWAS And U.S. Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Nigeria

For immediate publication
Abuja, Nigeria
April 20, 2009

All protocols duly observed

It gives me great pleasure to be here this morning to participate in the opening ceremony of this conference on Security Sector Reform sponsored co-jointly by the esteemed and respected West Africa regional body ECOWAS and the Africa Center for Strategic Studies (or ACSS) of the United States of America.

I believe that we are all here today not only because we recognize and appreciate the leadership of ECOWAS under its august President, Dr. Chambus but also because we all know the importance of regionalization in order to further the political security economic social and developmental integration of the West Africa Region.

West Africa has come along way with ECOWAS at its helm on these issues and I am pleased to say that the United States of America through programs capacity building and training provided by the ACSS has played a supporting role in this progress.

Part of the reason why we are all here today is to ensure that there is continued movement on the things most important to a fully integrated West Africa that include first and foremost cooperation understanding coordination interoperability and -- last but not least -- respect among the militaries and civilian leadership of this region.

This conference is another step along the road to realizing all of these goals. During the next four days the participants in this conference will have not only the opportunity to discuss the future security framework of the region and the continent from governance to maritime issues but also how we can all work together to help post conflict countries make that delicate transition from elections to stability -- all key elements in the global society today and key parts of the global challenges that the world faces today particularly right here on the Continent.

In addition security sector reform for the region must be at the forefront of any resolution to these issues. We have all seen recently the fragile environments in some of the neighboring states including a number of coups which have tried to set parts of the region back. However we have seen the role and appreciate the leadership that ECOWAS as well as Nigeria as chairman has and is playing to ensure that the clock does not get turn back and that democracies continues to become the order of the day for the region.

For the conference participants I want to say something specifically to you. You represent not only the best thinkers and strategists of your nation but I see you as the planners of our future and how we work together to address conflicts build the peace and bridge differences across regions across nations and across continents.

You will be the civilian and military leaders at the mid-point of the 21st Century and it is your participation in conferences like this that will serve you and your nation well as we work together to ensure a peaceful future for the region and certainly for the Continent of Africa.