Role of Regional Organizations in Peace Interventions

ECOWAS interventions in West Africa and macro-level leadership

Authored by: Burak Toygar Halistoprak

Routledge Handbook of Conflict Response and Leadership in Africa

Print publication date:  September  2021
Online publication date:  September  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367332228
eBook ISBN: 9780429318603
Adobe ISBN:


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Intervention into violent conflicts has increasingly been discussed within academia and has been practiced in international affairs. The evolution of sovereignty from absolute to a responsible version irreversibly introduced the question of how and when to intervene in conflicts for easing the sufferings of civilians (Watson, 1992; Sorensen, 2002; Jackson, 2007). For over more than three centuries since the Peace of Westphalia, absolute sovereignty was set as the main ordering principle of the international system that renders the relationship between the governments and its subjects immune to foreign intervention. However, the notion of “sovereignty as responsibility” transformed the nature of sovereignty by attaching a set of responsibilities to this ordering principle and assuming that preserving it depends on fulfilling these responsibilities (Glanville, 2011). The practice of international affairs also evolved to enable certain international bodies to intervene in conflicts in which domestic actors and sovereign governments remain ineffective to prevent the sufferings of civilians and protect regional, sub-systemic, or systemic peace. As intervention practices became more central in international politics, it also emerged as the primary conflict response tool. Concurrently, relevant questions regarding how to operate better and more efficient interventions were raised. Debates focused on but were not limited to “who” was to intervene. When, how, and through which tools to intervene were also discussed intensely (Wheeler, 2000). Yet the answer to the former question of “who” played a significant role in determining answers to the latter three because the intervening body and its capacity to mobilize appropriate tools in a timely and efficient style shaped the course of operation its success. Accordingly, it is possible to argue that efficient conflict response requires efficient leadership skills by the unit that initiates and executes the process.

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