IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


20th February, 2024 International News


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Picture Courtesy: https://www.euronews.com/2024/02/04/opposition-leaders-reject-senegal-election-delays-as-west-african-bloc-urges-dialogue

Context: The political unrest in Senegal prompts the West African bloc to appeal for unity and address the departure of three countries affected by coups.


  • Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger declared their joint withdrawal from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This move raises diplomatic concerns for ECOWAS, which had 15 members until then.
  • ECOWAS extraordinary session was held to address the withdrawal and its potential consequences. The chairman of the ECOWAS Mediation and Security Council emphasized the importance of unity within the community, urging the three countries not to leave.
  • Council members appealed for unity, highlighting that the departure of these countries would bring more hardship and harm to common citizens. The ECOWAS Commission president stressed the significance of staying together during challenging times.

About the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)


On May 28, 1975

By the Treaty of Lagos signed by 15 member states

Headquarters: Abuja, Nigeria

Members (Current)

15 West African countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Côte d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Togo

Recently, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger announced withdrawal (not yet finalized).


Promote cooperation and integration for economic prosperity and regional stability.

Addresses challenges like poverty, conflict, and climate change.

Key Objectives

Economic Integration: Create a common market, free trade area, and eventually, an economic and monetary union.

Harmonization: Align policies and programs in areas like trade, investment, agriculture, and energy.

Development: Promote balanced development across member states, focusing on vulnerable groups.

Peace & Security: Foster regional peace and security through conflict prevention, resolution, and cooperation.

Human Rights: Protect and promote human rights in accordance with international and regional standards.


Heads of State and Government: Highest decision-making body, meets annually.

Council of Ministers: Oversees implementation of policies and programs, and meets twice annually.

Commission: Executes decisions and manages day-to-day operations.

Other Institutions: Include the Court of Justice, Parliament, and Investment Bank.

Each member state has representation in all organs.


Political instability: Coups and internal conflicts hinder progress.

Economic disparities: Member states have diverse economic strengths and weaknesses.

Implementation gaps: Turning policies into action remains a challenge.

Security threats: Terrorism, piracy, and organized crime pose dangers.


Trade liberalization: Increased intra-regional trade and economic activity.

Peacekeeping missions: Stabilized conflict zones and facilitated elections.

Policy harmonization: Improved regional cooperation and coordination.

Infrastructure development: Built roads, bridges, and power grids.

Future Vision

ECOWAS of the People: Achieve peace, prosperity, and sustainable development for all citizens by 2050.

Borderless region: Facilitate free movement of people, goods, and services.

Integrated economy: Create a single economic and monetary union.

Good governance: Promote democracy, rule of law, and human rights.

Senegal's Political Crisis

  • The President of Senegal decided to postpone elections from February 25 to December, triggering a political crisis. Lawmakers voted in favour of the delay after security forces removed some opposition members, leading to concerns about the democratic process.
  • Observers, as well as international entities such as ECOWAS, the United States, and the European Union, expressed concerns about the political turmoil in Senegal. The stability and influence of Senegal in the region make its political crisis a matter of broader significance.

Role of ECOWAS

  • ECOWAS expresses concern to Senegal about potential disruptions to "peace and stability" during challenging times in West Africa. The bloc urges Senegal to adhere to its original election timetable, emphasizing the potential consequences if Senegal chooses to defy this recommendation.
  • Observers closely watch ECOWAS's response to the political upheaval in Senegal, highlighting the critical importance of the bloc's actions in addressing challenges within the region. ECOWAS's response signifies its pivotal role in preserving stability and upholding democratic processes among its member states.
  • ECOWAS asserts its authority to impose sanctions, as demonstrated in previous instances involving Mali and Niger following coups in those nations. This underscores the bloc's ability to utilize sanctions as a means to address political instability and deviations from democratic processes within its member states.
  • ECOWAS is presently engaged in private discussions to determine specific measures, if any, in response to the withdrawal of three countries from the bloc and Senegal's political crisis. The outcome of these discussions will play a pivotal role in shaping ECOWAS's stance and deciding the actions the bloc will take to address the challenges posed by both the withdrawal and the political situation in Senegal.


Geography and Ecology

Senegal is a West African country situated on the Atlantic Ocean coastline.

Bordered by Mauritania to the north, Mali to the east, Guinea to the southeast, and Guinea-Bissau to the southwest.

Ecologically diverse: semiarid grassland, oceanfront, tropical rainforest convergence.

Rich plant and animal life; national symbols: baobab tree and lion.

Historical Background

Part of ancient Ghana and Djolof kingdoms; key point on trans-Saharan caravan routes.

Contested by European powers (England, France, Portugal, Netherlands) before French control in the late 19th century.

Gained independence in 1960 under Léopold Senghor's leadership.


Traditionally dependent on peanuts; government diversification efforts.

Economic decline in the 20th century due to external factors (CFA franc devaluation, high debt servicing costs) and internal factors (population growth, unemployment).

Ethnic Composition

Almost 40% Wolof population; a stratified society with hereditary nobility and griots (musicians/storytellers).

Contemporary culture, especially music and arts, draws on Wolof sources; influences from other ethnic groups (Fulani, Serer, Diola, Malinke).


  • West Africa is navigating through significant political challenges, with the withdrawal of three countries from ECOWAS and Senegal's political crisis. ECOWAS's response is a critical factor in addressing the evolving situation, and the bloc's effectiveness in maintaining unity and stability in the region will be closely monitored. The complexities of the political landscape highlight the need for diplomatic efforts, regional cooperation, and strategic decision-making by ECOWAS to safeguard the interests of its member states and the broader West African community.

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Q. How can India effectively cooperate with West Asian countries to counter the spread of radicalization and extremism, considering the complex socio-political landscape and differing approaches?

Answer Structure:

Introduction: Give a brief background of India-West Asia relations, highlighting the common interests and challenges, and the significance of countering radicalization and extremism for regional stability and security.

Body: Discuss the main causes and drivers of radicalization and extremism in West Asia, such as sectarianism, political instability, socio-economic grievances, foreign intervention, etc. Also, mention the different approaches adopted by the West Asian countries to deal with this problem, such as military, political, ideological, or developmental. Then, explain how India can effectively cooperate with the West Asian countries to counter this threat, by suggesting some specific measures or initiatives, such as intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism cooperation, dialogue and mediation, cultural and educational exchanges, development assistance, etc. Provide examples or evidence to support your arguments.

Conclusion: Summarize the main points of your answer, and restate your position on how India can effectively cooperate with West Asian countries to counter radicalization and extremism. You can also mention some challenges or limitations that may hinder this cooperation, and suggest some ways to overcome them.