05.12.2012 Feature Article

Ghana Decides, and a Tale of Mali burning, when the UN fiddled

Ghana Decides, and a Tale of Mali burning, when the UN fiddled
05.12.2012 LISTEN

“The Accidental Ecowas & AU Citizen”:
By E.K.Bensah Jr
Ghanaians are about to vote in their general elections on Friday, and so I can fully understand how distracted they might be. Suffice to say, after 7 December--irrespective of a run-off--life will go on, and other important matters like the Mali question will be left hanging. One can only hope by that time the UN would have made some movement. For a country obsessed with people causing financial loss to the State, I do so hope Ghanaians might also be interested in knowing that the leader of the United Nations is also causing financial loss by sending diplomats going up and down on discussions that should require more decisiveness on the UN's part!

On a very serious note, so much has happened since the March coup of Mali. Too many meetings have taken place to count on one's fingers. Some of the meetings have been memorable; some less so. Some have shown the way forward. Others have only confused the situation. At the heart of it all has been the African Union and Ecowas, the sub regional interlocutor that has the mandate to address the issues. Had Mali not requested Chapter vii intervention from the UN Security Council, Mali might have been a done-and-dusted affair. Instead, we have a sub-region wholly preoccupied by one country, when ECOWAS should be focusing on the development of the whole region. It is little wonder that ECOWAS has also agreed to disburse more resources to its budget in 2013. Without a doubt, peacekeeping and peace-enforcement are not cheap!

Still on Mali, no less than the United Nations is aware of the precarious situation in Mali, and how it is affecting the sub-region. It therefore beggars belief it would be stalling and prevaricating.

Last week ended with the Council of Ministers of Ecowas meeting in the capital city of Cote d'ivoire. We now know that all is not well between Ecowas and the United Nations. In a communiqué obtained by the Panafrican news agency, and posted on the Ecowas website, Ecowas has expressed its frustration at why the UN does not seem to have a sense of urgency around Mali. Ecowas says it is “disturbed by the seeming lack of urgency in the recommendations of the Secretary-General's report with regard to authorization to deploy an African-led International Support Mission in Mali(AFISMA)” in the country.

ECOWAS has maintained “urgent action” is needed to dismantle terrorist networks that have continued to bring untold hardship and human rights abuses and violations not only in Mali, “but across the ECOWAS region and beyond.”

Way Forward : Cote d'Ivoire vs Mali?
So far, so unfamiliar. Unlike in Liberia when ECOWAS moved with relative ease, the panoply of organisations in 2012 means that the whole system that enabled ECOMOG to move into Liberia is no longer available. Each actor seems to want to have their own say, causing unnecessary complications. I am aware this is not a very popular position I hold, but we cannot deny what is going on: prevarication of the highest order that has no justification.

Why was Ban ready to move into Cote d'Ivoire in 2011, but in Mali, where the situation is as crystal-clear about the attendant dangers in non-intervention, no less than the UN secretary-general is stalling. It is not just a case of “over to you Ban”, but an important test for ECOWAS itself in learning lessons on how waiting on the international can frustrate the development of the sub-regional—and how to ensure the sub-regional finds a way of strengthening and harmonising with the continental to ensure the sub-regional has more autonomy.

In 2009, in his capacity as a “Do More Talk Less Ambassador” of the 42nd Generation—an NGO that promotes and discusses Pan-Africanism--Emmanuel gave a series of lectures on the role of ECOWAS and the AU in facilitating a Pan-African identity. Emmanuel owns "Critiquing Regionalism" ( ). Established in 2004 as an initiative to respond to the dearth of knowledge on global regional integration initiatives worldwide, this non-profit blog features regional integration initiatives on MERCOSUR/EU/Africa/Asia and many others. You can reach him on [email protected] / Mobile: 0268.687.653.