WANEP launches Silver Jubilee Celebration

The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), a leading regional peacebuilding civil society organisation, has launched its 25th anniversary celebration, on the theme: ’25 Years of Building Peace and Inspiring Change.’

Mrs Levinia Addae-Mensah, the Programme Director and Deputy Executive Director of WANEP speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra at the launch of the Silver Jubilee Celebration, said the theme reflects the story and the successful journey of WANEP.

Founded in 1998 in response to civil wars that plagued West Africa in the 1990s, WANEP’s vision is that of a ‘West Africa region characterized by just and peaceful communities where the dignity of the human person is paramount and where the people can meet their basic human needs and decide their own direction.’

The Deputy Executive Director paid tribute to the two co-founding fathers of WANEP – Dr Sam G. Doe from Liberia, the first Executive Director and Co-founder of WANEP and Mr Emmanuel H. Bombande of Ghana, the second Executive Directo
r and Co-founder of WANEP.

She said over the years, WANEP had succeeded in establishing strong national networks in every Member State of ECOWAS with over 700 member organisations across West Africa.

She said WANEP places special focus on collaborative approaches to conflict prevention, and peacebuilding, working with diverse actors from civil society, governments, intergovernmental bodies, women groups, the youth, and other partners in a bid to establish a platform for dialogue, experience sharing and learning, thereby complementing efforts at ensuring sustainable peace and development in West Africa and beyond.

Touching on the successes chalked by WANEP over the past 25 years, Mrs Addae-Mensah said WANEP started as a small civil society organisation in Ghana to an organisation that is now represented in 15 countries in West Africa; with an office in Abuja, Nigeria the level of ECOWAS, and also in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the level of the African Union (AU).

She said they have gotten to the point where
WANEP had also acquired its own properties not just in Ghana but in countries such as la Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Benin and The Gambia.

She added that the WANEP had been able to survive the very mutating context of peace and security; from when it started focusing on intra-state conflicts, physical violent conflicts in the West Africa sub-region at the time, to addressing securities threats that were not necessarily physical conflicts.

Mrs Addae-Mensah said: ‘What we call the contemporary and emerging characters around conflicts, which are difficult to address and yet WANEP has been able as an Institution to transform itself and continue to sustain itself and remain relevant even in the face of different natures of conflicts from what we started with.

‘I think that in itself is a huge inspiration and again it goes back to the theme of why we have talked about inspiring change because it has been a constantly changing context and yet within that context, we’ve been able to remain relevant and be able to also pr
oduce results.’

She said the National Early Warning System was a part of the WANEP Alert and Response Mechanism, which supports the ECOWAS Early Warning System and the Continental Early Warning System under the Protocols Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security in West Africa and the African Peace and Security Architecture of the AU.

She lauded some of their development partners such as the European Union and the USAID for the continued support for WANEP over the years.

With regard to the problem of backsliding democracy in West Africa, which was coupled with coups, the threats of coups and instability, Mrs Addae-Mensah reiterated that there was hope for the future.

She urged the citizens of the West Africa sub-region to have faith in democracy and that democracy was the only way forward.

Source: Ghana News Agency