ECOWAS promotes peaceful cross-border transhumance
On 26 April, ECOWAS and the government of Nigeria held a high-level meeting on pastoralism and cross-border transhumance in Abuja. The conference brought together ministers of security and agriculture/animal resources from ECOWAS countries, Cameroon, Chad, Mauritania and the Central African Republic. Their goal was to find lasting solutions to the escalating conflicts between herders and farmers in the ECOWAS zone and in other regions. Nigeria alone has recorded an annual average of more than 2 000 fatalities from 2011 to 2016, sometimes exceeding the casualties due to the Boko Haram insurgency. “It is important to find urgent solutions to these conflicts which are mainly caused by free movement of people, goods and services in the ECOWAS region, climate change and cattle theft,” explained Abdulrahman Dambazau, Nigeria’s Interior Minister. However, the ECOWAS protocol on the free movement of people, goods and services is a corner stone of regional integration, which must be protected. Moreover, ECOWAS already approved a regulation (C/REG.3/01/03) on the implementation of transhumance regulations between ECOWAS member states in 2003. The meeting of experts that was organised before the ministerial conference on 24-25 April urged ECOWAS leaders to make these regulations operational through the implementation of regional programmes to develop pastoral areas and infrastructure for transhumance. Notably, the regulation involves setting up pilot cross-border projects to develop new joint methods to manage transhumance routes and host zones. Experts recommended that they prepare an audit of the how often existing community regulations on cross-border transhumance and the circulation of light weapons are applied or not. They also proposed preparing an update of the legal community framework by July 2018, and advancing its harmonisation with national laws.