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The fundamental elements required for the growth and development of any country are peace and adequate security. West Africa has been characterized by violent conflicts for the past two decades. ECOWAS has taken the lead in establishing several protocols and institutions to curb the numerous security threats that confront the sub-region.

The activities of ECOWAS are made possible through the contributions of member countries which Ghana is not an exception. Ghana after the attainment of independence has pursued several policies to champion the collective interest of the African continent and the West African subregion particularly in the resolution of the myriads of conflicts and security threats in the region. Using the neoliberal institutionalism and historical institutionalism theories, the study sought to comparatively study the foreign policies pursued by NPP and NDC (2001-2017) administration’ towards the peace and security operations of ECOWAS, strategies deployed, and an analysis of continuities and changes in these policies.

Data collected from the interviews, review of important literature and an analysis of the statements and speeches of the three former Presidents of NPP and NDC (2001-2017) using the qualitative research methodology revealed that, both governments pursued several policies towards ECOWAS’ peace and security operations. Also, both administrations supported peacekeeping and peacemaking processes of the sub-regional body. An analysis of continuities and changes in their policies revealed that some levels of continuities in their foreign policies are discernible. However, both regimes portrayed some changes in their policies as a result of a lack of a single policy document to guide Ghana’s foreign policies pursued towards ECOWAS’ peace and security operations.





1.1 Background of Study

In our world today, the basic requirement for the growth and development of any country is the guarantee or assurance of the collective peace and security of citizens living in a country (Igbuzor,

2011). The development of every country or continent is closely linked to security and conflict. Amid conflicts, whether interstate or intrastate, insecurity will be the order of the day which will translate into the absence of peace in the country or region. In the absence of peace, development cannot be achieved (Matinuddin, 2010). Security is a broad concept that encompasses economic, social, environmental, and gender concerns; and is not only limited to military problems that characterize a region or country (Sesay, 1995).  Galtung (1969) also avers that, in the absence of violence or war, there is peace.

Development in Africa has generated inadequate outcomes after thirty years of worry about the growth and progress of the continent (Ake, 1996). The aftermath of independence for some countries in West Africa has been characterized by violent conflicts for the past two decades. Most of these clashes occur within the confines of the country rather than the States fighting each other (Piccolino & Minou, 2014). The West African sub-region remains one of the porous and unstable regions in the world, confronted with civil strife, smuggling of illicit drugs, human trafficking (Iheduru, 2011), and terrorism through the activities of Boko Haram (Hassan, 2017). These conflicts which take place in the sub-region are caused by the inability of the governance system (bad governance) to take care of the human rights and needs of minority associations in these countries as well as corruption (Annan, 2014; Kufuor, 2005).

The African Union suspended eight countries from 2002 to 2012 for undemocratic change of régimes in Africa with the support of internal regional bodies like the ECOWAS and looking outside the continent for support from the European Union or the United Nations. The suspended

States were Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. This signifies the level of seriousness of the African Union to prevent intense clashes that occur on the African continent often caused by instability in the countries (Vines, 2013).

Moreover, out of 20 suppressive and cruel systems of governments in the world, eight are in Africa.

Starting from the highest, these countries are Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, Ivory Coast,

Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea, and the Central African Republic (Williams, 2007).

According to the Fragile State Index (FSI) 2019, out of the 30 recorded fragile states in the world, 21 of these States are from Africa (Messner, 2019). This points to how the issue of insecurity has become dominant on the African continent. The impact of the cold war has seen the development of regional organizations becoming very relevant and recognized in the international scene. This has led to the increasing support of the UN for regional bodies like ECOWAS in the prevention, management, and resolution of the crisis by planning and implementing programs to enhance the security of these countries and also promoting sustainable peace and development (Gabrielse, 2007; Nathan, 2012).

As a result of the security interdependence and weaknesses faced by many African countries, most countries come together to take advantage of co-operative avenues to plan and implement policies to address their security challenges (Francis, 2006). This is evident in the activities of ECOWAS in promoting a great level of harmony and safety within West Africa with the support of AU, UN, and other International Governmental Organizations (IGO’s).

ECOWAS was established by the enforcement of the Lagos agreement by member States on the 28th of May, 1975. It had a special obligation or task to uphold economic cooperation in all sectors of its member States. However, the protocols of Non-Aggression and Relating to Mutual Assistance on defense (PMAD) established in 1978 and 1981 respectively ushered the sub-regional body into the area of peace and security (Adeniji, 1997). Member States through the NonAggression protocol agreed not to use force to fight against any country within the ECOWAS community or support any foreign country to fight the territorial integrity of a member country. Also, Relating to Mutual Assistance on Defense Protocol explains how any threat against a country that belongs to the ECOWAS Community is a threat against the entire West African region. As a result, member States offer joint assistance to each other in times of need. Moreover, the Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management and Resolution, Peace Keeping and Security was institutionalized in 1999 to achieve collective harmony and safety within the ECOWAS Community. Another Supplementary Protocol for Democracy and Good Governance

was subsequently agreed on in 2001 to support the other protocols to fight against insecurity in the sub-region (UNECA, 2019).

Security operations of ECOWAS is very important because, for the effective realization of the subregional economic cooperation, a great amount of peace is required to attain the economic cooperation mandate within the sub-region. Countries that make up the ECOWAS community are:

Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Senegal and Togo (ECOWAS, 2019).

The past account of chaos and uncertainty in West Africa is a result of the tales of unscrupulous governance and leadership, inadequate institutions and democratic values as well as the use of abject poverty and low literacy rate as devices to sway citizens into endorsing authoritarian regimes. Despite the numerous problems that characterize the region, ECOWAS has taken the lead in establishing operational and self-motivated conflict management and resolution approaches to resolve the broad security and political challenges facing the sub-region (Bolaji, 2009).

This has resulted in a significant improvement in some African countries taking into consideration the insecurity that characterized them as stated in the annual report of the 2019 Fragile State Index (FSI). According to the FSI report in 2005, Sierra Leone which suffered twenty years ago of the civil war was ranked in the first ten war-prone countries in the world together with Ivory Coast and further categorized as the most fragile countries in the world. Currently, Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast have been ranked 39th and 29th respectively in the world (Messner, 2019). The improvement in these two countries stated by the FSI 2019 can be linked to the dynamic involvement of ECOWAS member countries in seeking solutions to crises that characterize the sub-region.

Sovereign states pursue two main types of policies, namely, internal policies and external or foreign policy. Both policies are public policies championed by governments. Domestic policies are the strategies used by countries to achieve their internal goals (Asare, 2013). Foreign policy is very important as it comprises of statements and actions of states and non-state actors in the broad context of the international system. As such, priority or importance needs to be accorded to major policymakers or leaders on the international scene who influence the making and implementation of foreign policy processes of the country involved (Gebe, 2008).

The attainment of freedom from colonial rule in 1957 marked a crucial breakthrough and served as the basis for the nation’s foreign policy. This is because, it allowed the country to interact freely with other countries in the international system which later became the bedrock of the country’s vibrant foreign policy (Boafo-Arthur, 1989). That is, the country had to come to terms with the pursuit of independent foreign policy. Ghana, on the attainment of independence had to reason very fast how to behave in the international arena. What is new about this study? It seeks to focus on Ghana’s foreign policy concerning her neighbors and her role in West Africa. Specifically, her foreign policy towards the peace and security operations of the ECOWAS by comparatively studying the NPP-NDC administrations from (2001-2017).

1.2 Statement of Research Problem

Since the inception of the Fourth Republic, Ghana has come under different governments with both the NPP and NDC being the main leading political parties. The NDC (7th January 1993-7th

January 2001) with Flt.Lt. Jerry John Rawlings as the leader, NPP (7th January 2001-7th January 2009) under the auspices of John Agyekum Kufuor and the NDC (7th January 2009-24th July 2012) with the late Professor John Evans Atta Mills being the leader. Former President John Dramani Mahama took over power after the death of the sitting President John Evans Atta Mills still under the NDC government (24th July, 2012-7th January 2013) and was re-elected into office from (7th January 2013-7th January 2017), and the current NPP led administration under the leadership of His Excellency Nana Akufo Addo.

These leaders have pursued several policies towards the peace and security operations of the ECOWAS which are worth examining. Interestingly, two administrations with three different leaders, that is, the NPP-NDC from 2001 to 2017 make it a very important research area. Former President Kufuor, the late former President Mills and former President John Dramani Mahama on several occasions in their State of the Nation Addresses (SONA) mentioned the country’s commitment to the collective safety of the world, Africa and the ECOWAS community to be precise (Mahama, 2013; Mills, 2012; Kufuor, 2005). The problem therefore is, although peace and security issues are very paramount and these leaders have formulated several policies to support ECOWAS in its operations, little empirical research has been done in this area. Of particular importance to this work is the comparative study of the nation’s foreign policy formulated towards the security operations of ECOWAS under the NPP-NDC (2001-2017) administrations.

Scholars have written extensively on several aspects of Ghana’s foreign policy since independence. These include: how ideologies influenced the country’s external relations, the dynamics of continuities and changes in Ghana’s external relations, how internal and external factors affect the execution of  Ghana’s foreign policy and Ghana’s foreign economic relations (Aluko, 1975; Asare & Siaw, 2018; Boafo-Arthur, 1989, 1999, 2007; Birikorang, 2007; Gebe, 2008; Sanusi & Adu-Gyamfi, 2017; Thompson, 1969). However, not much attention has been given to Ghana’s foreign policy championed towards the ECOWAS in its quest to achieve

collective security within the sub-region. This research, therefore, seeks to delve deeper into this area, by comparatively studying Ghana’s foreign policies championed towards the peace and security operations of the ECOWAS under the NPP-NDC led administrations under the leadership of former President Kufuor, former President Mills and former President Mahama respectively. The extent to which the foreign policies pursued by the NPP-NDC during that period impacted on the quest for peace and security of the sub-region is the focus of the study.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The research is a comparative study of Ghana’s foreign policy pursued towards the security operations of ECOWAS under NPP-NDC administrations from (2001-2017).  

1.4 Research Objectives

  • The central research objective is to explore the major foreign policies that were formulated and pursued by the NPP-NDC (2001-2017) led administrations towards the ECOWAS in its security operations.
  • To discover strategies the NPP-NDC administrations deployed and used in contributing to

ECOWAS security operations.

  • To analyze continuities or changes in the foreign policies of the NPP-NDC formulated towards the peace and security operations of ECOWAS.
  • To establish the lessons that can be drawn from Ghana’s foreign policy towards the

collective achievement of safety within the ECOWAS sub-region.

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study is very important for two main reasons. Academically, the research will contribute to the existing literature on Ghana’s foreign policy pursued towards the ECOWAS in the direction of its peace and security operations in West Africa under the NPP-NDC administrations.

At the national level, major stakeholders and policymakers in Ghana’s foreign policy will understand the exact peace and security policies formulated by the NPP-NDC administrations towards the ECOWAS, strategies deployed, and the contributions made to accomplish collective safety needed to bring about development in West Africa.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This research comparatively studies Ghana’s foreign policy championed by NPP-NDC (20012017) towards the ECOWAS with a particular focus on security operations. The study is limited to the foreign policy contributions of former President J. A Kufuor, former President Atta Mills, and former President John Mahama towards the ECOWAS in the avoidance, controlling and determination to prevent civil conflicts and other security crisis or threats that occurred during their tenure in power. These are second Liberian civil war (1999-2003), Togolese crisis in 2005, the first civil war in Cote d’Ivoire (19th September, 2002-4th March 2007), second Ivorian civil war (2010-2011), the Mali civil war (2012-2015) and the constitutional crisis in The Gambia (20162017).

1.7 Justification/ Rationale for the Time Frame and ECOWAS.

The researcher selected 2001 to 2017 because the NDC led administration under former President Atta Mills and former President John Mahama is a new administration that ended not long ago, where little research has been conducted. Studying this administration comparatively with the NPP under the leadership of former President J.A. Kufuor is an area where little attention has been paid to concerning the country’s foreign policies towards the collective realization of the security mandate of the ECOWAS.  This makes the selected timeframe very significant and an important area to conduct a study and add unto the existing literature on Ghana’s foreign policy.

There are several IGO’s in Africa purposely established by countries coming together to achieve a particular objective or goal. Some of these groups are Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CENSAD), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community

(EAC), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Integrated Authority on Development (IGAD), Southern African Development Community (SADC), and Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) (Bappah, 2014). ECOWAS is selected amidst all other regional bodies for this study because as a sub-regional body, it is mainly made of member countries from West Africa who have gone through conflicts or civil wars in one way or the other and understands why peace and security is a necessary factor to contribute to success in Africa and the world at large.

Also, after the cold war, some scholars like Essuman-Johnson (2009) argued that regional bodies are very important when solving problems or crises within their territory and outlined three reasons why they must solve their peace and security problems. Firstly, regional organizations should take it up upon themselves to solve their conflicts because the great powers in the international system may not be interested in what is happening in a sub-region and more importantly committing resources to solve the problem. For example, while conflicts occurring in Kuwait will attract prompt attention, conflicts within Africa will receive less attention.

Secondly, although, conflict resolution strengthens the roles of the UN Security Council, most Third World countries or developing countries see it as an imposition from the Council. Thirdly, a decline in international pressures will be seen by regional powers as making space to exercise power over some important parts of their environment (Essuman-Johnson, 2009).

1.8 Organization of the Study

The research comprises of six chapters as presented below. Chapter one which is the introductory chapter includes background to the study, statement of the research problem, research objectives, purpose, significance of the study, organization of the research, and limitations of the study. Chapter two reviews the literature on all relevant documents on conflicts, peace, and security, foreign policy in general, Ghana’s foreign policy to be precise, and the role of ECOWAS in addressing problems in the West African sub-region. Chapter three comprises the theoretical framework upon which the study is built and the research questions the study seeks to answer. Chapter four presents the methods and methodology, research instruments adopted by the researcher as well as the rationale and justification for the sampling techniques and methods to collect data. Chapter five focuses on data analysis and discussions concerning the research questions posed and objectives outlined. Chapter six encompasses the presentation and summary of the research findings, conclusion and recommendations for future research.


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