The opening ceremony will be chaired by Pierre Sané, UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Social and Human Sciences, in the presence of representatives from the project’s different partners, who have implemented it over the past three years within the framework of UNESCO’s Management of Social Transformations programme: West African Economic and Monetary Union, African Union, OECD, ECOBANK, the United Nations University and Trust Africa.
Building upon the participation of all scientific coordinators of the 15 ECOWAS Member States, where similar meetings had already taken place, the seminar will explore the specificity of Nigeria, where ECOWAS’ Headquarters are located, to reflect collectively on the challenges and potential of the country’s integration into the area of regional cooperation created in 1975.
Following meetings held in Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo, the 15th meeting will mark the end of a series of seminars launched in 2005. Each meeting will have lead to the publication of a book by the Karthala Publishing Company.
Covering all 15 ECOWAS Member States, the project has provided an opportunity to initiate, in each of them – and often for the first time - a dialogue between researchers, political stake-holders and actors of economic and social development in order to understand the reasons behind the slow progress of an integration process, which is essential to lift West African countries out of their 'maldevelopment'.
One of the major outcomes of the initiative was the unanimous adoption by the ECOWAS Heads of State Summit in January 2008 of the project proposal for the creation of a West Africa Institute which should be established in Praia (Cape Verde). In charge of conducting research on regional integration in West Africa, the aim of the institute is to increase knowledge on the subject and to propose political options in favour of development, peace and human rights in the region to policy-makers.
The Project’s Steering Committee will hold its first meeting immediately after the national seminar of Nigeria on 29 February in Lagos (Nigeria).
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