[Extracted from WANEP Annual Report, 2009]
After serving the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) as Vice Chair of the Board for two terms, I was elected following the re-constitution of the Board at the special 10th Anniversary General Assembly in January 2009 to now serve as Chair of the Board. This is a great honour being one of the founding members of WANEP who saw the growth and development of the organisation from its very beginning. While contributing to the establishment of WANEP in my own country, La Cote D’Ivoire, I saw clearly the early warning signs of internal strife. Our collective efforts were a little too late. We experience a civil war that almost engulfed and destroyed the whole of Cote D’Ivoire. As an entrepreneur in the private sector, I have always understood that peace is the indispensable element for any economic and human development from community to national levels. West Africa cannot harness its human and natural resources for the sustainable development of its people as long as violent conflicts remain pervasive in the sub-region.
WANEP is now a fully-fledged and unique civil society organisation in West Africa. After over 10 years of contributing actively to peace in the region, WANEP has become a reference organisation for study and research on the role of networks in efforts towards development and peace. I am proud to be the chair of WANEP at this time of its prime. My main message in this 2009 annual report is to urge and encourage all the member organisations of WANEP, the national networks and the regional secretariat to continue to strife hard. This is the time for re-commitment and dedication for the work of peace in Africa.
The Board recognises the eff rts of civil society organisations across the sub-region in peacebuilding. We applaud the special efforts to set up well structured and functioning WANEP national networks in Cape Verde, Mali, and Niger. We look forward to welcoming these new networks as we complete the last phase of establishing WANEP in all fifteen member-states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). On behalf of the Board and the Management of WANEP, I take this opportunity to appreciate the civil society partnership with ECOWAS and with Governments in West Africa in the complimentary effort to build peace. We are most grateful to all the funding partners of WANEP. We pay special tribute to Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambers, the immediate past President of the ECOWAS Commission. During his tenure in office, his diligence and leadership led to the transformation of ECOWAS from an executive secretariat to a commission.
He presided over the institutional strengthening of the inter-governmental body with the evidence today of the assertiveness of ECOWAS and increased political will in regards compliance of the political convergence criteria set by the ECOWAS authority of heads of states in various protocols and agreements. West Africa now takes the lead in response to crisis within the region through ECOWAS. This new level of ownership in conflict prevention is unprecedented. I am pleased that civil society and particularly WANEP shares in this success story with ECOWAS through its partnership particularly in the operationalization of the ECOWAS Early Warning System - ECOWARN
Mr. Michel Sodjiedo Capo Mian
Board Chairperson, WANEP