Abuja (WorldStage Newsonline)-- The United Nations resident Coordinator, Mr. Daouda Toure has said that corruption and money laundering which sometimes directly related to human trafficking activities, remained major challenges in West Africa.
According to the United Nations, around 200,000 to 300,000 children are trafficked each year for forced labor and sexual exploitation in West and Central Africa. In addition, a 2001 survey on child labour in West and Central Africa, about 330,000 children were employed in the cocoa agricultural industry in Cameroon, Cote d' Ivoire, Ghana and Nigeria.
The UN envoy noted that girls were more frequently the victims of child trafficking than boys.
He therefore noted that the sub-region and development partners must come together to address the situation by revising the abject poverty of the majority of the population.
He also noted that the confidence the development partners had in ECOWAS was as a result of its modest success, stressing that since its founding 36 years ago, ECOWAS had the potential to be one of most successful regional integration efforts in African continent.
"An alarming reality is that girls are more frequently the victims of child trafficking than boys. Corruption and money laundering, which are sometimes directly related to human trafficking activities, remain a challenge in the sub-region.
"We must come together to redress the situation and plug on the huge development potential of West Africa and reverse the abject poverty of the majority of the population. Empirical evidence demonstrates West Africa's peripheral role in the world economy. For example, West African countries have in common the lowest standards of living in the world. Eleven out of the fifteen members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are among the bottom thirty countries in the 2011 Human Development Index (HDI) compiled by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). '
"The context provided by the challenges identified above calls not only for a . stronger and institutionalised ECOWAS, capable of articulating the strategy and agenda for addressing these challenges; Mr. President, the comprehensive plan you presented few days ago provides the answer. But we need for ECOWAS and development partners to mutually explore these potentials, work in a coordinated manner, with trust. Continuous efforts by the sub-regional' body in the areas of providing support for credible elections, promotion of national reconciliation and dialogue in crisis-torn countries as well as regular production and dissemination of early warning information on conflicts to member states will greatly enhance regional stability and peace in the sub-region. The UN system stands ready to help. Also worthy of particular mention are efforts aimed at promoting regional trade relations and commerce. These include the finalization of the Common External Tariff (CET) document, harmonization of fiscal and monetary policies, implementation of the Trade Liberalization Schemes and the protocol on free movement of persons and goods.
"The United Nations system strongly is ready to playa key role in forging a stronger partnership between the ECOWAS on the one hand, and development partners on the other, in a more holistic sense of international solidarity to promote the ideals of sustainable and equitable economic growth, good governance, democracy, the rule of law and human security. It is therefore useful to stress that more than funding for capacity building and technical assistance, both ECOWAS and development" partners must understand that these challenges must be put in the broader context of addressing the common concerns of humanity as they manifest in the West African sub-region.
"Thus ECOWAS, members States, private sector and development partners can reinforce the search for good governance, regional security, development of infrastructure and enhanced opportunities to access and harness the enormous resources of the region."
ECOWAS vice president assured that the Commission will do everything possible towards the implementation of the useful and strategic conclusions that was reached at the meeting.
------------Victor Iluyemi, World Stage On-Line