A Test for West African Regionalism: Explaining ECOWAS Response to the Crisis in Niger

Facing the ongoing crisis in Niger, ECOWAS stands at a crossroads. On the one hand, ECOWAS initial threat of military intervention triggered a backlash from various quarters. Burkina Faso and Mali rallied to support the Niger junta, portending a regional split. On the other hand, a less coercive response might throw ECOWAS central role in maintaining peace, security, and democracy in West Africa in doubt. What explains ECOWAS actions in Niger? What can ECOWAS learn from this crisis? The unique nature of the crisis in Niger prompted an initial belligerent response from ECOWAS, but a quest to stay relevant amid pushback moved the organization towards a more moderate approach. Through this shift in strategy, ECOWAS sought to balance existential threats to the organization with the task of restoring constitutional order in Niger. Going forward, ECOWAS would benefit from making better use of its crisis-response architecture, including through consulting a wider range of actors with different perspectives, leveraging the expertise of the Commission staff, and keeping its broader peace, security, and democracy goals front and centre.

We use cookies to improve your experience. By continuing to visit this page, you accept our use of cookies.