Political Turmoil in ECOWAS: When Politics Prevails Over Law


Adu Y.N., Mezyaev А.В.


Several military regimes have recently come to power within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This article on the political crisis in ECOWAS examines the main causes of these developments in the region and the approaches of regional organizations to address them in the African context, taking into account the practices of the OAU and the African Union. In the first phase, ECOWAS imposed a series of sanctions against these states for violating their international legal obligations in the areas of democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and good governance. In addition, the community decided to use military force in the Republic of Niger in order to free M. Bazoum, and, in response to this threat, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger decided, on September 16, 2023, to create the Alliance of Sahel States (ASS) for self-defense to repel the aggression of the ECOWAS troops.

Furthermore, on January 28, 2024, the ASS countries announced their withdrawal from ECOWAS, and, in order to prevent a split in ECOWAS, on February 24, 2024, the community decided to lift the sanctions previously imposed on Niger, Mali, and Guinea on humanitarian grounds. This article examines in detail both the political and legal sides of the decisions taken by ECOWAS. Based on their analysis, the authors conclude that democracy remains an important tool for promoting stability in African multinational societies. According to the authors, attempts by the AU and ECOWAS to address political instability through normative means can be encouraged. However, ECOWAS’ sanction policies against offending countries should be based on existing community norms, humanity, and real facts in order to avoid dividing the community.


ECOWAS, Guinea, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Alliance of Sahel States, sanctions, international treaties, democracy, military coups




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For citation:

Adu, Y.N., Mezyaev, A.B. (2024). Political Turmoil in ECOWAS: When Politics Prevails Over Law. Journal of the Institute for African Studies. № 2. Pp. 102–117. https://doi.org/10.31132/2412-5717-2024-67-2-102-117

Для цитирования:

Аду Я.Н., Мезяев А.Б. Политические потрясения в ЭКОВАС: преобладание политики над правом. Ученые записки Института Африки РАН. 2024. № 2. С. 102–117. https://doi.org/10.31132/2412-5717-2024-67-2-102-117