ABUJA, Nigeria, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Nigeria is expanding its program of training troops for peacekeeping operations.
Nigeria's Minister of State for Defense Erelu Olusola Obada made the observation when the President of the Economic Community of West African States Parliament Kadiri Desire visited Obada's ministry in Abuja.
Nigeria will continue to play a peacekeeping "big brother" role in West Africa, with Nigerian peacekeeping troops being deployed to regional hotspots such as Guinea Bissau, where Obada said that Nigeria is playing a prominent role," Obada said.
Designated soldiers are being trained at the Nigerian army's Peacekeeping Center in Jaji, Kaduna for deployment.
During his visit, Desire expressed ECOWAS appreciation for the role of Nigeria was undertaking in the regional peace building process, noting that there was a need for ECOWAS West African member states to work together to ensure that peace is restored in Mali, where militants has declared independence in several regions, The Daily Trust newspaper reported.
Since the 1990s, and more recently via the Arab Spring, civil turmoil in North Africa, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire and Nigeria has vividly demonstrated how conflict can quickly bleed across frontiers into neighboring countries.
In 1990, ECOWAS demonstrated its resolve to deploy peacekeepers when conflicts paralyzed the region by establishing a West African multilateral armed force, the Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group. Although ECOMOG received criticism for alleged human rights abuses in the field, the international community also praised the group for its proactive stance.
Peacekeeping operations in West Africa have altered in the two decades since ECOMOG was established, as over the past decade Africa has made significant progress in regionalizing its peace and security architecture.
Most notable is the transformation from the now obsolete Organization of African Unity to the African Union, with the AU shifting focus from "non-interference" principles to active engagement, reflecting African leaders' new willingness to prioritize human security and human rights
Four years ago ECOWAS created the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework, shifting its political priorities from an "ECOWAS of States" to an "ECOWAS of the Peoples," which demonstrated African politicians' new willingness to prioritize human security issues above and beyond state political concerns.
Under the auspices of the African Union, ECOWAS forces are divided into five Regional Economic Communities, each with its own sub-regional standby brigade, which collectively make up the African Standby Force.
The ECOWAS Standby Force, also known as ECOBRIG, is ECOWAS's military and peacekeeping arm. ECOBRIG consists of a Main Brigade and rapid reaction Task Force, which can deploy in 14 days after ECOWAS determines the necessity of deployment to a regional zone of conflict.
Non-African forces are also involved in peacekeeping operations on the continent, most notably the African Union-U.N. Mission in Darfur.