The 2001 ECOWAS Supplementary Protocol on Democracy in Light of Recent Developments in the Sub-Region of Africa.

Author:Basiru, Adeniyi S.
 
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The democracy-peace building nexus, beyond its traditional foothold in the liberal theory of International Relations, is a two-sided theoretical equation, resting on two plausible arguments. (1) Developed by Immanuel Kant in the nineteenth century and subsequently popularized in the twentieth century by Woodrow Wilson and his heir, Michael Doyle, on one side of the equation is the traditional Kantian thesis that democracies do not go to war with one another, suggesting that, the wider the democratic space within a subordinate state system, the greater the prospect for peace. (2) On the other side is a contemporary variant, which gained ascendancy and popularity immediately after the Cold War and conceptualized by the former United Nations Secretary General, Boutros Boutros Ghali, (3) which contends not only that democracies do not go to war but democracies, because of inbuilt institutional mechanisms (4) embedded in them, do equally widen the zones of peace within states. (5)

Either way, in our contemporary global system, the issue is no longer whether democracy and its institutional appurtenances have the capacity to incubate and nurture peaceful coexistence within and among nations but what would become of them should democracy go on retreat. (6) In the words of Sisk, "of the range of tools available to conflict resolution practitioners to manage intractable conflicts, none of them is arguably more durable over the long term...than the creation and nurturing of democracy." (7) Retrospectively, this seemingly immutable ethos may have driven Western European statesmen and diplomats to weave their continent's security and peace-building architectures not only around supra-nationality but also on building democracies within and between countries after the Second World War. (8)

By the late 1970s--courtesy of democratic third waves--the Western European initiative began to spread into other regions of the world. In sub-Sahara Africa, civil organizations began to frame the continent's development, peace, and security agendas around nurturing democratic governance in member-states. For instance, the Kampala Document (a proceeding from the 1991 conference in Kampala, Uganda, organized by the African Leadership Forum (ALF) with support from UNECA) anchors peace and security within African nations on the security of individual citizen to live in peace and to satisfy basic needs while being able to participate fully in societal affairs and enjoying freedoms and fundamental human rights.' (9)

African leaders soon began to pontificate about democratic governance, albeit, caring less about institutional development or the quality of elections. (10) In West Africa, the crises in Liberia and Sierra Leone gave impetus to quest for the institutionalization of democratic norms and values among countries of the sub-region. These two crises pulled into the spotlight the security dilemma often associated with undemocratic tyrannical regimes and the threats posed by such regimes, not only to their countries but the sub-region as a whole. Between 1991 and 2001, statesmen, diplomats, and technocrats in the sub-region, under the auspices of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), developed and adopted three major democracy cum governance frameworks--the 1991 Declaration on Political Objectives, the 1999 Mechanisms for the Prevention, Management and Resolution of Conflicts, and the 2001 Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance--as grand strategies for dealing with governance and security issues.

Against this background and in the light of contemporary happenings in the sub-region, it is imperative to examine West Africa's post-Cold War attempts at institutionalizing democracy cum governance frameworks at the level of member states. This article, sourcing data from documentary sources and adopting descriptive, historical, and analytical methods of data analysis, outlines the major provisions of the 2001 Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance (11) and assesses member states' performance with regard to the outlined provisions, in the light contemporary realities.

In term of organization, this article is structured into five broad parts, starting with an introduction pointing to the article's background, purpose, and organization. The second part conceptualizes and contextualizes the key concepts that are germane to our discourse. This is followed by the discussion of theoretical framework that informed the study. Part four undertakes two tasks. First, it highlights and examines the governance cum democracy provisions in the 2001 Supplementary Protocol. Second, it assesses the performances of state parties with regard to its key provisions. The fifth part concludes the paper.

Defining Democracy and Peace

In a study of this nature, it is apposite to conceptualize and contextualize the concepts of democracy and peace. This is especially true with social inquiry, in which concepts often assume different meanings and interpretations. In the words of Rubin and Babbie "we specify what we mean when we use particular terms for the purpose of facilitating their contextual operationalization and comprehension." (12) With regard to the concept of democracy, aside from being nebulously contested, it is also ideologically loaded and as such not amenable to universal definition. (13) What have therefore resulted are divergent perspectives and variants to the definition of the concept. According to Przeworski et al, "Almost all normatively desirable aspects of political life, and sometime even of social and economic life, are credited as definition features of democracy: representation, accountability, equality participation, dignity, rationality, security, freedom-the list goes on--indeed, according to many definitions, the set of true democracy is an empty set." (14)

It is not within the purview of the paper to resolve the controversies over the meaning of democracy, but it is essential to conceptualize and operationalize democracy in a broader context. According to Weale, "Looking at literature on democracy, we read of pluralist democracy, radical democracy, liberal democracy, socialist democracy, one-party democracy, deliberative democracy, polyarchy, elitist democracy, equilibrium democracy and so on." (15) Notwithstanding all these, broadly speaking, there are three schools of thought to the definition of what democracy means. The first, drawing from the Athenian model, (16) views democracy in a deliberative form. It argues that ordinary citizens are the objects of political participation and that no attempt should be made to limit their participation in the political process. Rousseau, the French philosopher remarked in 1762, "Citizens are rational and politically conscious entities that are inclined to participation." (17) Central to his conception is the idea that citizens' direct participation gave meaning to democracy. In fact he expressed his anti-representation bias thus: "Citizens assemble together and decided on the content of law and public policy without the mediation of political representatives. In their decision, each seeks the common good or the general will." (18)

Re-echoing Rousseau, contemporary proponents of this school insist that instead of rationalizing citizens' inactiveness, emphasis should be placed on transforming the apathetic citizens into democratic citizens. For example, Habermas suggests that democracy should be viewed as a method of communication in which rational citizens deliberate in a context of openness and equality. (19) Joining issues with Habermas, Cohen posits that "policy outcome are democratically legitimate if and only if they could be the direct object of a free and reason argument among equals." (20) Budge (21) notes that it is possible to imagine a form of direct democracy that took to their limits participatory devices like referendum or citizens' initiatives that currently exist only in restricted form in representative democracies. Indeed, he proposes a conception of democracy where information and communication technologies could make possible, extensive citizen involvement in the making of public policies. In their contribution to the school, Guttmann and Thompson see it as, "a form of government in which free and equal citizens (and their representative), justify decisions in a process in which they give one another reasons that are mutually acceptable and generally accessible, with the aim of reaching conclusions that are binding in the present all citizens but open challenge in the future." (22)

Counterpoised to the citizen conception of democracy is the elite variant which conceives democracy in elitist terms. Whether in its representational or pluralist variant, it equates the demos with the elites in the society. Specifically, this perspective asserts that democracy is a method of making decisions which ensures efficiency in administration and policy making and yet requires some measures of responsiveness to popular opinion on the part of the ruling elites. (23) The central contention of this perspective is that since it is impossible for the average citizen to know enough to participate intelligently in decision-making, democracy should be about the few intelligent and rational ones taking decisions on behalf of others. In this view, the only role expected of the generality of the citizen is to check on the political elites.

Lending credence to this view, Schumpeter (24) contends that mass participation must be limited to voting and should exclude such issues as letter writing or the petitioning of representatives. These political activities, according to him, amounted to mounting pressure on the representatives before the expiration of their tenure. As he puts it: "Democracy does not mean and cannot mean that the people actually rule in any real sense of the term, 'people' and 'rule.' Democracy means only that the people have...

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