ECOWAS and UNITAR Forge Strategic Partnership to Support Economic Integration and Human Development in West African Countries

10 June 2015, Geneva, Switzerland – A high level delegation from Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) led by the ECOWAS Commission President and former Prime Minister of the Republic of Burkina Faso H.E. Mr. Kadré Désiré Ouedraogo visited UNITAR’s Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland on 5 June 2015.

The delegation was received by the Executive Director of UNITAR, UN Assistant Secretary-General Ms. Sally Fegan-Wyles. The purpose of the visit was to discuss how UNITAR could help ECOWAS to achieve its economic integration objectives and promote human development through targeted capacity building assistance to ECOWAS member countries. The ECOWAS Commission President and the UNITAR Executive Director identified a number of high priority areas for collaboration. They include regional trade integration, agriculture sector development, competitiveness, negotiation of contracts with multinational enterprises (MNEs), resources and procedures used to address environmental and climate changes, peacekeeping operations, management of public goods, and extractive industries governance. It was further agreed that ECOWAS and UNITAR will sign a Memorandum of Understanding in 2015 which will provide a basis for a long-term partnership.

ECOWAS and UNITAR Forge Strategic Partnership to Support Economic Integration and Human Development in West African CountriesThe strategic ECOWAS-UNITAR partnership originates from a joint e-Learning initiative. Under this initiative UNITAR is currently training 450 government officials from ECOWAS countries on Multilateral Trade Negotiations. The first series of courses in English, French, and Portuguese generated tremendous interest. Over 1,000 ECOWAS countries officials have applied for the 450 fellowships sponsored by ECOWAS. It is expected that a second series of courses will be conducted later in 2015 to satisfy this high demand.

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS; French: Communauté économique des États de l'Afrique de l'Ouest, CEDEAO) is a regional group of fifteen West African countries. The Vision of ECOWAS is to create an integrated region where the population enjoys free movement, have access to efficient education and health systems and engage in economic and commercial activities while living in dignity in an atmosphere of peace and security. The organization operates officially in three equal languages - French, English, and Portuguese.

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Photo: ECOWAS delegation with UNITAR Executive Director and staff