|Abuja, Nigeria, April 30, 2021. The maiden Roundtable on Health, Peace and security by the ECOWAS Commission was virtually convened on the 30th of April, 2021 to deliberate on strategies for mitigating the impact of human security related challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic with respect to the elec-tions and other related processes in the region.Giving a keynote address at the opening of the brainstorming session, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner, Political Affairs, Peace and Security, General Francis Behanzin, recalled that in the years 2014 and 2020, respectively, the Ebola epidemic and the COVID 19 pandemic exposed the fragile health infrastructures in African countries especially, the inadequacy of equipment, personnel and resources to tackle pandemics.
While noting that the outbreaks beyond the public health challenges, also led to the exacerbation of the social and economic vulnerabilities of the ECOWAS citizen, Commissioner Behanzin stressed fur-ther that “the pandemic has amplified the linkage between public health and human security, raising new challenges associated with political processes.”
He expressed profound gratitude to the European Union and the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Economic Cooperation (BMZ) through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusam-menarbeit (GIZ) for the support to the operationalization of the ECOWAS Peace and Security Architec-ture and the organization of the Roundtable.
Welcoming participants earlier, the Commission’s Director, Political Affairs Dr. Aderemi Ajibewa rep-resented by Dr. Onyinye Onwuka, Head of Mediation and Coordination of Regional Political Affairs Division, noted that it was in recognition of the impact of health crises on political and peace process-es, that the Health, Peace and Security Roundtable was envisaged as an opportunity to gather best-practices that will contribute to mitigating the effects of future pandemics on human security. She fur-ther noted that the Roundtable is one of the many endeavors of a larger activity currently co-implemented with GIZ EPSAO support, known as the West Africa Peace and Security Innovation (WAPSI) Forum and Report.
Goodwill messages came from the representatives of the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control, Mr. John Oladepo, the European Union, Ms Ursula Sotkiewicz and GIZ’s Yvonne Akpasom. The partners, while applauding the initiative, pledged continuous support for the human security project.
The Roundtable featured two presentations bordering on the Implications of Public Health Crises on Regional Political Processes by the Electoral Assistance Division of the ECOWAS Commission and the Human Security Perspective to the Covid-19 pandemic given by the West African Network for Peace-building (WANEP).