The Conflict situations in West Africa have been characterized by intra state conflicts and struggle for identity, recognition and legitimacy all of which are constant factors in promoting human security. In the midst of this strategic shift in security challenges within the sub region, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) operationalized an early warning system as a mechanism to support conflict prevention and peacebuilding. This process has been supported by member states, security sector structures and West Africa Network for Peace building (WANEP) that has the largest presence of civil society networks in the sub region.
This article is an attempt to present an assessment of the operationalization of the ECOWAS early warning system looking at the historical context of the process and putting problems into perspectives. It also covers conceptual analysis of early warning and builds on its connection to early response and the initiatives that have been putforward so far in engendering the early warning system. The analysis covers the operational workings of the system, ECOWAS partnership with WANEP, and an overall review of the strength, opportunities, weaknesses and challenges in the ECOWAS early warning structure and its output in addressing security challenges in West Africa.