11.8.2020 : 12:36 : +0200

General Information | Point of Contact | PoA initiatives & activites | Instruments & documents | Members


Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)


Abuja, Nigeria

Web site

Short description

ECOWAS’s objective is to promote cooperation and integration, including economic and monetary union, in order to stimulate growth and development in West Africa. It has also been mandated to promote peace and security in the region.


ECOWAS member states finance ECOWAS through a community levy (0.5 per cent of customs revenue) and support from development partners, among which are mainly the EU, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and the African Development Bank. The budget covers the functions of the ECOWAS Unit and core activities. Partner funding primarily covers infrastructure, peace and security, agriculture, migration, etc. Activities have an annual budget based only on the plans for the next year. Over the period 2006–11 donors provided about USD 8.5 million to small arms projects implemented by ECOSAP, a small arms capacity-building programme of UNDP and other partners aimed at ECOWAS members. ECOSAP donors include UNDP, the EU, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Norway, as well as a financial contribution of USD 500,000 from ECOWAS.

Mauritania was one of the original members of the organization when it was founded in 1975 with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, but it withdrew in 2000. Cape Verde is the only state to have joined ECOWAS after its formation, having done so in 1977.


15 members (all UN member states)

  • Current members*: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo (Bold: founding member, Grey: suspended member)
  • Former members: Mauritania
  • Membership pending: None

Overlapping memberships with other ROs

ECOWAS members represent:

  • 14 of 28 CEN-SAD members
  • 15 of 16 WAPCCO members

*Information accurate as of 22 March 2012

PoA Point of Contact

  • Dr Cyriaque Agnekethom
  • Head of Small Arms Unit


PoA-related activities

ECOWAS is the only regional body to have adopted a moratorium on the import, export, and manufacture of small arms in its region. Established in 1998, the moratorium was planned for a renewable period of three years and was renewed in both 2001 and 2004. Poor monitoring and weak government structures, and the fact that the moratorium was not legally binding, undermined its effectiveness. As a result, states signed the ECOWAS Convention in 2006 and it entered into force on the ratification of the ninth member state in 2009. The ECOWAS Small Arms Unit was established to assist in the implementation and monitoring of the ECOWAS Convention. ECOSAP, which took the place of PCASED, the implementation unit put in place to support the 1998 small arms moratorium, is a five-year (2006–11) transitional capacity-building programme of UNDP and other development partners. It supports the small-arms-related activities of ECOWAS members. ECOSAP’s main activities have been to provide institutional capacity to national commissions on small arms and WAANSA and to conduct national surveys, develop national action plans, and implement quick-impact activities. Having just completed its five-year mandate, the role, if any, of ECOSAP remains unknown (as of March 2012). On issues related to small arms, GIABA is a specialized agency of ECOWAS addressing antimoney laundering (AML) and the counter-financing of terrorism (CFT) and working with member states to ensure compliance with AML/CFT standards.

PoA-related programmes and initiatives

PoA-relevant cooperation with other ROs

ECOWAS is one of eight regional economic communities that are members of the AU Steering Committee on small arms, which was set up as part of the EU–AU continental Small Arms Project managed by RECSA on behalf of the AU. In June 2011 ECOWAS organized a meeting in Freetown, Sierra Leone, on Cross Border Cooperation and Cross Border Initiatives, at which delegations endorsed the MRU to serve as the sub-regional organization to coordinate ECOWAS cross-border programmes among MRU member states.

Legally binding regional instruments

  • ECOWAS Convention on Small Arms and Light Weapons, Their Ammunition and Other Related Materials (2006)

Other official documents of interest

  • Five Year Priority Activities Plan for the Implementation of the ECOWAS Convention (2011–15) (adopted March 2010)
  • Declaration of a Moratorium on Importation, Exportation and Manufacture of Light Weapons in West Africa (1998) (predecessor of the ECOWAS Convention)


This profile is also available in other languages:


Share this content
Share this content: