Department of Political Science
Fellowship Year(s): 2020
Project/Theme Title: ECOWAS Interventions: Restructuring the Responsibility to Protect
Abstracts: The African continent has experienced some of the world’s deadliest conflicts and worst humanitarian atrocities in recent memory. While the international community was hesitant to react to these crises, African states responded by forming consensus-based regional and subregional organizations with growing security responsibilities. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), established by fifteen West African nations, incorporated the language and principles of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) to authorize a series of humanitarian interventions, each with mixed results. This paper traces the historical origins of R2P, its implementation by the subregional body of ECOWAS, and the divisions between subregional and international understandings of R2P. Using a subset of ECOWAS-sanctioned interventions (Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire, the Gambia), this paper argues that a new R2P framework must align subregional and international peacekeeping efforts to combat interconnected threats to West African security and human rights.