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Western Africa and E.U. Politics


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Western Africa


E.U. Politics

West Africa is oriented west of an imagined north-south axis lying close to 10° east longitude. The Atlantic Ocean forms the western and southern borders of the region. The northern border is the Sahara Desert, with the Niger Bend generally considered the northernmost part of the region. The eastern border is less precise, with some placing it at the Benue Trough, and others on a line running from Mount Cameroon to Lake Chad.

Colonial boundaries are reflected in the modern boundaries between contemporary West African nations, cutting across ethnic and cultural lines, often dividing single ethnic groups between two or more countries.

West Africa occupies an area in excess of 6,140,000 km², or approximately one-fifth of Africa. The vast majority of this land is plains lying less than 300 meters above sea level, though isolated high points exist in numerous countries along the southern shore of the region.

The northern section of West Africa is composed of semi-arid terrain known as Sahel, a transitional zone between the Sahara desert and the savannahs of the western Sudan forests form a third belt between the savannas and the southern coast, ranging from 160 km to 240 km in width.

History of West Africa

The history of West Africa can be divided into five major periods: first, its prehistory, in which the first human settlers arrived, developed agriculture, and made contact with peoples to the north; the second, the Iron Age empires that consolidated both intra-African, and extra-African trade, and developed centralized states; third, Major polities flourished, which would undergo an extensive history of contact with non-Africans; fourth, the colonial period, in which France and Great Britain controlled nearly the whole of the region; fifth, the post-independence era, in which the current nations were formed.

Slavery and European contact

In the early nineteenth century, the French and British continued to advance in the Scramble for Africa, subjugating kingdom after kingdom.

Britain controlled The Gambia, Sierra Leone, Ghana, and Nigeria throughout the colonial era, while France unified Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Benin, Côte d'Ivoire and Niger into French West Africa. Portugal founded the colony of Guinea-Bissau, while Germany claimed Togoland, but was forced to divide it between France and Britain following First World War. Only Liberia retained its independence, at the price of major territorial concessions.


Until recently, most governments in West Africa were illiberal and corrupt and several countries have been plagued with political coups, ethnic violence and oppressive dictators. Since the end of colonialism, the region has been the stage for some of the most brutal conflicts ever to erupt. Among the latter are:

Nigerian Civil War

First Liberian Civil War

Second Liberian Civil War

Ivorian Civil War

Sierra Leone Civil War

Though a few countries like Ghana and Senegal have enjoyed relative stability and have even seen some growth, all progress in the region is contingent on the efficacy and justness of governance and the fair allocation of resources which, for the moment, both leave much to be desired.

Regional organizations

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), founded by the 1975 Treaty of Lagos, is an organization of West African states which aims to promote the region's economy. The West African Monetary Union (or UEMOA from its name in French, Union économique et monétaire ouest-africaine) is limited to the eight, mostly Francophone countries that employ the CFA franc as their common currency. The Liptako-Gourma Authority of Mali, Niger, and Burkina Faso seeks to jointly develop the contiguous areas of the three countries.

This thesis it’s examining the emerging role of a sub-regional organization dealing with peacemaking missions on the post-Cold-War period in West Africa. This examination it’s focused mainly on ECOWAS and ECOMOG, its military wing, as the most prominent sub-regional organization in conducting peacemaking and peacekeeping missions in Africa. This thesis its focused on the first generation interventions of ECOWAS/ECOMOG in undertaking peacemaking and peacekeeping missions in Liberia (1990 1997), Sierra Leone, (1998 2000), and Guinea Bissau (1998 1999), and the second generation of interventions in Liberia in 2003 and in Cote d’Ivoire (2003-2004).

Background on West Africa

OIL West Africa is the continent’s second largest oil producing region, and the third largest in terms of oil consumption. Nigeria, which contains 99.4% of West Africa’s proven oil reserves, is Africa’s largest oil producer. Excluding Nigeria, West Africa is a net oil importer. The largest net importers, in 1998, were Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mauritania, and Senegal.
Benin, which produces a small amount of crude oil from its offshore Seme field, hopes to expand offshore and onshore exploration. Neighboring Togo recently announced the opening of all offshore areas for oil and gas exploration. Togo’s offshore area is divided into 15 blocks totaling 2,600 sq. miles (4,100 sq. kilometers).

GAS In 1997, West Africa was the continent’s second largest natural gas producer and consumer. Nigeria’s estimated 124 Tcf of proven natural gas reserves are the 9th largest in the world.
Cote d'Ivoire, with proven natural gas reserves of 1 Tcf, is poised to become a regional gas exporter. Cote d'Ivoire plans to supply gas from its offshore Kudu, Ibex and Eland fields to Ghana’s Takoradi power facility.

Electric generating capacity in Africa in 1997 was concentrated in two regions — North and Southern Africa. Combined, those two regions alone accounted for 82% of total power generating capacity in Africa. The Democratic Republic of Congo (Central), Kenya (East), and Nigeria (West) are the leaders in power generating capacity for Africa’s other regions.
In efforts to improve on the nation’s electricity generating capacity, the Federal Government of Nigeria on 19 May 2005 approved about Naira10 billion for the building of five power stations across the country.
The new power stations, which are to be completed in the next two to three years, are expected to add over 1400 megawatts of new capacity into the National Grid.

Industrialization and urbanization

In West Africa, industrialization is still in a very early stage. So far, West Africa is suffering many of the disadvantages and enjoying only a few of the benefits of industrialization. Local small-scale industries often concentrate on repairing and renovating industrial products.

Urbanization has fuelled industrialization. Energy supply, transportation facilities, public infrastructure, and proximity to political power (because of security and influence considerations) are important location factors for the siting of industries in the big cities. Metallurgical and chemical industries exist on a very limited scale, if at all. The same applies to electronics industries. There is, however, a certain growth of small-scale industries in rural areas and in smaller regional centres.

The main resource-based industries such as mining, quarrying, and agricultural enterprises are generally not closely linked to urban centres. The socio-political influence of the transnational corporations has declined in Africa in recent years. These enterprises often operate in isolated 'enclaves,' such as mining or plantation areas, with minimum interaction with the larger society.

Pollution control and other regulatory measures, including recycling and cleaner forms of production, are in a very initial phase. In most African countries environmental control mechanisms exist only 'on paper.' For instance, Nigeria has its Environmental Protection Law of 1986, but, as in most developing countries, actual enforcement remains difficult.

Social impacts

Besides demographic growth, African development is strongly influenced by the situation of the political economy and the access of countries to resources. Critics of a one-sided climatic explanation of hazards and disasters often quote the Sahel crisis of the 1970s as an example to prove the dominant role of socio-political parameters in coping with a famine initiated by drought. However, it seems clear that only consideration of both biophysical and socio-economic and cultural factors can explain the vulnerability of the 'political ecology' within this zone. If one looks at it spatially, one finds that the most vulnerable groups do not necessarily live in the most vulnerable locations. It is the combination and overlap of the two that leads to the most problematic cases of marginality and sensitivity.

In this respect the impact of technology may vary. Irrigation, for instance, may reduce biophysical vulnerability. On the other hand, irrigation practices may lead to salinization and waterlogging. The heated controversy over the consequences of the 'Green Revolution,' with its technology packages (improved water supply, seed selection, chemical fertilizers, etc.), for resulting development is typical of this debate.

Africa's economic and financial problems were made worse by a combination of:

1. an investment in growth and development that failed to earn the expected rewards;

2. the international debt crisis, oil price hikes, and rising interest rates, plus the inadequacy of the aid programmes that were meant to provide relief;

3. repeated drought, crop failure, and widespread famine;

4. the failure of agricultural production to contribute significantly to growth and the increased dependence on imported food.

Culture and religion

Despite the wide variety of cultures in West Africa, from Nigeria through to Senegal, there are general similarities in dress, cuisine, music and culture that are not shared extensively with groups outside the geographic region. Islam is the predominant historical religion of the West African interior and the far west coast of the continent; Christianity is the predominant religion in coastal regions of Nigeria, Ghana, and Cote d'Ivoire; and elements of indigenous religions are practised throughout. Before the decline of the Mali and Songhai Empires there was a sizable group of Jewish communities in areas like Mali, Senegal, Mauritania, and Nigeria. Today there are small Jewish populations in Ghana, Nigeria and Mali. Along with historic migrations, these religions have culturally linked the peoples of West Africa more than those in other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The game Oware is quite popular in many parts of West Africa. Soccer is also a pastime enjoyed by many, either spectating or playing. The national teams of some West African nations, especially Nigeria, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, regularly qualify for the World Cup. Mbalax, Highlife, Fuji and Afrobeat are all modern musical genres which enjoin listeners in this region. Traditionally, musical and oral history as conveyed over generations by Griots are typical of West African culture.

A typical formal attire worn in this region is the flowing Boubou (also known as Agbada and Babariga), which has its origins in the clothing of nobility of various West African empires in the 12th century.

The Djembe drum, whose origins lie with the Mandinka peoples, is now a popularly played drum among many West African ethnic groups. The Djembe, along with the highly intricate woven Kente cloth of the Akan peoples of Ghana and the distinct Sudano-Sahelian architectural style seen in the many mosques of the region (see Djenné), are the primary symbolic icons of West African culture.

Family is an important aspect as well.

Family denotes a group of people affiliated by consanguinity, affinity, and co-residence. Although the concept of consanguinity originally referred to relations by 'blood,' many anthropologists have argued that one must understand the notion of 'blood' metaphorically, and that many societies understand 'family' through other concepts rather than through genetic distance.

According to many sociologists and anthropologists, the primary function of the family is to reproduce society, either biologically, socially, or both. Thus, one's experience of one's family shifts over time. From the perspective of children, the family is a family of orientation: the family serves to locate children socially, and plays a major role in their enculturation and socialization. From the point of view of the parent(s), the family is a family of procreation the goal of which is to produce and enculturate and socialize children. However, producing children is not the only function of the family; in societies with a sexual division of labor, marriage, and the resulting relationship between two people, is necessary for the formation of an economically productive household.


Davidson, Basil. Africa in History. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995. – Online source for news and current affairs in west Africa.

E.U. Politics

The European Union is a unique entity possessing intergovernmental and supranational elements. It possesses elements of a multi-party parliamentary democracy, however issues such as foreign affairs are currently conducted primarily between member states.


As per the Maastricht Treaty of 1991, the Union's political scene is divided into three pillars; the European Community, which is the Supranational element, and two primarily intergovernmental elements; the Common Foreign and Security Policy and Police and Judicial Co-operation in Criminal Matters. Although it should be noted that the latter two have supranational elements, although not as strong as in the Community.

The powers afforded to the Union fall within one of these pillars. More sensitive areas are pooled into the primarily intergovernmental pillars. The Union rarely has exclusive control over an area even in the Community pillar.


The Union is composed of its twenty-seven member states. They retain all powers not explicitly handed to the Union, except those handed to further subdivisions within member-states, such as in the German and Belgian federations. Enlargement of the Union's membership is a major political issue, with division over how far the bloc should expand. While some see it as a major policy instrument aiding the Union's development, some fear over-stretch and dilution of the Union.

Some member states are outside certain areas of the European Union, for example the Economic and Monetary Union is composed of only 15 of the 27 members and the Schengen Agreement currently includes only 21 of the EU members. However the majority of these are in the process of joining these blocs. A number of countries outside the Union are involved in certain EU activities such as the euro, Schengen, single market or defence. Even though some countries, such as those in the European Economic Area, have a high degree of integration, they have no representation in EU institutions.


The primary institutions of the European Union are the European Commission, the European Council, the Council of the European Union (Council) and the European Parliament. The first two are a form of executive branch;

The Commission exercises control over agencies, proposes and drafts legislation and ensures application of the law. It is composed of one Commissioner per member-state, although are supposed to remain above national politics, and one of their number leads the body as the President. Each Commissioner is given a portfolio with a related Directorate-General (DG). In simplified terms, one could compare the roles of the President, Commissioners and DGs as the Union's Prime Minister, Ministers and Ministries. However there are important differences in powers.[8]

The European Council has no official powers in the treaties, however it is composed of the heads of state and government of the Union's member states and therefore hold the considerable power not delegated to the Union's supranational institutions. The body also appoints the President of the Commission (based on the Parliament's elections) as well as the CFSP chief. In simplified terms along the lines above, the role of the council could be compared to that of a head of state.[9]

The Council and Parliament form the legislative branch of the Union. The Council is formed of national ministers while the Parliament is directly elected. Depending upon the area concerned their relationship differs with sensitive areas under greater control of the national ministers. In most cases, where the matter comes under the supranational European Community, both chambers have equal powers to pass, amend or reject legislation.

Treaties and law

The Union is based upon its treaties; they form its constitutional law, institutions, powers and so forth. There have been numerous treaties each amending and building upon the previous, transferring more powers to the Union and to the Community.

Laws made by the Union supersede those made by national governments . There are three forms of binding legislative acts the Union can pass: a regulation, which is a directly applicable law; a directive, which constitutes a framework of objectives which a national law must be based on to meet the stated aims; and a decision which applies only to a particular issue.

In passing laws, institutions use numerous legislative procedures; depending upon which is used, the balance of power between the Council and Parliament is altered. The most common is the Codecision procedure which gives equal position to both institutions.


Elections are held in the Union's member-states according to their own rules. Their elected heads of state and government form the European Council and national ministers form the Council of the European Union. The European Parliament is the only directly elected institutions of the Union. Elections take place every 5 years by universal suffrage of EU citizens according to national restrictions (such as age and criminal convictions). Proportional representation is used in all parliamentary constituencies.

Political parties

Political parties in the member states organise themselves with like-minded parties in other states into political parties at European level. Most parties are a member of one of these, there are currently 11 recognised parties which receive state funding. They do not operate like the largely unitary national parties and few develop comprehensive manifestos.

The parties are present in all institutions but have most impact in the European Parliament. Most organise themselves with other parties, non attached national parties or independents to form a political group. No party has ever held a majority in the Parliament, this does not have a great affect as it does not form a government but there is usual a coalition between the two major parties to elect the President of the European Parliament. The latest European Parliament elections are now taken into account by leaders when appointing the President of the European Commission, hence in 2004 the Commission President came from the European People's Party, who were the largest party following the elections.

Foreign affairs

The Union's foreign affairs are driven by its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). Foreign policy is still largely the domain of the member-states. The most visible face of the Union's foreign policy is the High Representative of the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana. The High Representative has become a powerful figure on the Union's political scene being not only in charge of foreign policy but of the European Defence Agency as well as being the Secretary Generals of the Council and the Western European Union.


The Financial Perspective for 2007–2013 was defined in 2005 when EU members agreed to fix the common budget to 1.045% of the European GDP.[17] UK Prime Minister Tony Blair agreed to review the British rebate, negotiated by Margaret Thatcher in 1984. Former French President Jacques Chirac declared this increase in the budget will permit Europe to 'finance common policies' such as the Common Agricultural Policy or the Research and Technological Development Policy. France's demand to lower the VAT in catering was refused .Controversial issues during budget debates include the British rebate, France's benefits from the Common Agricultural Policy, Germany and the Netherlands' large contributions to the EU budget, reform of the European Regional Development Funds, and the question of whether the European Parliament should continue to meet both in Brussels and Strasbourg.

The Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe (TCE), commonly referred to as the European Constitution, is an international treaty intended to create a constitution for the European Union. The constitution was rejected by France and the Netherlands, where referendums were held[19] causing other countries to postpone or halt their ratification procedures. The constitution now has an uncertain future.[20][21] As of February 2007, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Romania, Slovenia and Spain have ratified the constitutional treaty. Finland, Germany and Slovakia have completed parliamentary procedures required for ratification. Spain and Luxembourg held referendums, thus in those member states the constitution was ratified by popular vote.[22] In June 2007, a preliminary agreement on a new Reform Treaty was reached.

Politica de confidentialitate



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