European Union’s Election Observation: The Case of ECOWAS Countries

Established in 1975 through the Treaty of Lagos, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) represents a significant initiative by West African states to enhance economic, cultural and political cooperation among the over 300,000,000 people living within their boundaries. Originally conceived as a pre-eminently economic body, ECOWAS has over the years expanded the remit of its mandate by developing into a political forum increasingly responsible for the promotion of peace, the resolution of conflicts and the management of humanitarian crisis in the West African region. Within this context, ECOWAS has been increasingly engaged in contexts characterized by political instability, protracted violence and humanitarian emergencies (e.g. in Liberia between 1990 and 1998 and then again in 2003; in Sierra Leone between 1994 and 1999; in Guinea-Bissau in 1998 and then again in 2012, in Ivory Coast since 2002 and in Mali since early 2013).