“Communities and Violent Extremism, Social Cohesion in West Africa”: theme for the 3rd Forum of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Education for a culture of peace through intra and inter religious dialogue. The event will hold in Lome, Togo, from 27th to 29th October 2022.
The forum is being jointly organised by ECOWAS Department of Human Development and Social Affairs and the Togolese Republic and will bring together about a hundred actors from various religions from across the ECOWAS Member States, including religious leaders, political leaders, the youth, civil society representatives and resource persons.
It comes at a time when the region faces numerous deadly terrorist attacks, as a result of religion being utilized to achieve ideological, political, economic or social ends. In the last two years, attempts at pacification by ECOWAS and the affected Member States have proved futile, with an increase in violent incidents across the region. Terrorism has considerably evolved in its reach and strike force, effectively threatening countries that had previously been spared.
This 3rd edition, sponsored by Sheikh Serigne Babacar Sy Mansour, Leader of Tidiane in Senegal, Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles, the Archbishop of Freetown in Sierra Leone and His Highness Nana Kobina Nketsia V, Leader of the Essikado Traditional Area in Ghana, aims to find ways to foster dialogue among the different religious communities. It is to ultimately facilitate mutual understanding and nurture the spirit of tolerance and peaceful coexistence through education for a culture of peace.
The Lome meeting is expected to give participants a better understanding of the causes of religious intolerance in West Africa
The Lome meeting is expected to give participants a better understanding of the causes of religious intolerance in West Africa and the cultural and religious grounds of the culture of peace. The meeting will also provide the framework for the creation of an inter religious platform for peaceful conflict prevention and resolution, at a time when violent extremism remains an ever-increasing threat in the ECOWAS region and where the present consensus that military operations and security measures alone are inadequate to resolve the challenge.
The event will demonstrate ECOWAS commitment to fostering platforms for dialogue going by the organisation of the first and second edition in Niamey, Niger in 2016 and 2018, respectively.
The organisation had also developed training curricula and modules in English, French and Portuguese, which were translated into several local languages and integrated in the ECOWAS reference manual on education for a culture of peace. The organisation had equally established a train the trainers programme for Imams and Madrassah Scholars on the fight against violent extremism and radicalisation, which has already been organised in Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Cote d’Ivoire.
The foregoing ECOWAS activities stem from the 10 December 1999 Protocol relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security, and more recently, the 2020-2024 Priority Action Plan to Eradicate Terrorism in the Region.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).