ECOWAS Monitoring Group

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Map of the ECOWAS states

The ECOWAS Monitoring Group ( ECOMOG , German  ECOWAS monitoring group ) was a multinational armed force deployed by the West African Economic Community (ECOWAS) . Due to the leadership of Nigeria , the force was logistically, personally and financially heavily dependent on the Nigerian armed forces . Other troop-contributing states included Ghana , Guinea , Sierra Leone , Gambia , Liberia , Mali , Burkina Faso and Niger .

ECOMOG intervened in three armed West African conflicts: the Liberian Civil War , the Sierra Leone Civil War and the Guinea-Bissau Civil War . ECOMOG represents the first African attempt to use its own regional security mechanism to contain a military crisis after the end of the Cold War .


Nigeria, Ghana and other ECOWAS members signed a protocol of mutual assistance on May 29, 1981 in Freetown , Sierra Leone. In addition to the establishment of a Defense Committee and Council , the protocol laid the foundations for an Allied Armed Force of the Community (AAFC ).

After the outbreak of the civil war in Liberia , the ECOMOG was created on this basis by the anglophone ECOWAS countries at a meeting of the Standing Mediation Committee on August 6 and 7, 1990 in Banjul , Gambia . The Nigerian scientist Adekeye Adebajo wrote in 2002 that “there was a good reason why the establishment of ECOMOG did not meet the constitutional requirements of ECOWAS”. According to Adekeye Adebajo, this body “relied on shaky legal foundations.” Adebajo concluded that the arguments used to set up ECOMOG were more political than legal. Guidelines were not followed and ECOMOG was justified mainly on humanitarian grounds.

After the failed Inter-African Force , which was supposed to intervene on behalf of the Organization for African Unity in Chad in 1981 , ECOMOG represented the first credible attempt at a regional security initiative in Africa.

First deployment in Liberia

A Nigerian ECOMOG soldier outside Monrovia , Liberia (1997)

The English-speaking members of ECOMOG acted because several francophone ECOWAS members strongly opposed the operation. The heads of Burkina Faso and Ivory Coast supported Charles Taylor in his attempt to remove Samuel Doe from his office. In contrast to the typical UN missions of these days, ECOMOG's first deployment involved fighting in a multifaceted civil war in an effort to keep the warring parties apart.

ECOMOG troops from Ghana board a USAF C-130E "Hercules" , February 18, 1997

The first commander in command of the armed forces was Lieutenant General Arnold Quainoo from Ghana, but an unbroken line of Nigerian officers followed after him. Major General Joshua Dogonyaro took the lead after Quainoo shortly after by Prince Johnson and his Independent National Patriotic Front of Liberia caused death of Samuel Doe on September 9, 1990 for discussions with senior ECOWAS officials had left Monrovia.

A Malian armored personnel carrier is being prepared to move to Liberia as part of Operation Assured Lift, February 23, 1997

After Taylor noted the presence of Anglophone Ghanaians and Nigerians as opposing, Senegalese troops were sent into the country with financial support from the United States. Their use was short-lived after a confrontation with forces loyal to Taylor in Vahun , Lofa County , on May 28, 1992. Six Senegalese were killed when supporters of the NPFL surrounded their vehicle and asked them to surrender and surrender their weapons. All of the 1,500 soldiers sent by Senegal had been withdrawn by mid-January 1993.

During the mission, corruption and organized looting by ECOMOG troops resulted in the Liberian-created acronym E very C ar O r M ovable O bject G one. Stephen Ellis reported one of the most egregious examples when the Buchanan iron ore machinery was resold while the Buchanan property was under ECOMOG control.

The State Department of the United States provided the armed forces with logistical assistance through the American company Pacific Architects & Engineers , which in turn provided trucks and drivers. Five C-130 Hercules of the USAF also transported African troops and supplies during Operation Assured Lift February-March 1997th

After Charles Taylor was elected President of Liberia on July 19, 1997, the last ECOMOG commander, General Timothy Shelpidi , withdrew the troops by the end of 1998.

The ECOMOG mission in Liberia has come under massive criticism because of the questionable legality, human rights violations , lack of discipline, logistical deficiencies and partyism. On the other hand, the ECOMOG troops were able to create safe places in the country and, despite half-hearted efforts, bring about a relatively stable peace. The most important merit, however, lies in the willingness of the African countries to intervene in an internationally ignored conflict that threatens regional stability.

Operations in Sierra Leone and Guinea-Bissau

Later, ECOWAS used the ECOMOG armed force to monitor conflicts in the following cases:

From 1993 ECOMOG troops from Nigeria and Ghana supported the Sierra Leone army in their fight against the Revolutionary United Front RUF . With the help of the South African mercenary company Executive Outcomes , they were able to prevent an occupation of the capital Freetown by the RUF in 1995.

In 2001 ECOWAS planned to deploy 1,700 soldiers along the border between Guinea and Liberia to prevent the entry of fighters who opposed the government elected in 1998. However, due to the fighting between the new administration under Charles Taylor and the new rebel movement called Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) and a lack of funding, no armed force was actually used.

Use in the Ivory Coast

After the Ivory Coast was destabilized by a military coup in 2002 and a request was made by the Ivorian government, ECOWAS reacted and set up the West African States Peacekeeping Force (ECOFORCE). The reluctance of the member states to send troops was problematic. As with the last mission, Nigeria did not participate this time. Western states such as the United States, Great Britain and France supported the mission logistically and financially, but the troop contingent was far too small to cope with the tasks, even if they were now more experienced and better prepared for such situations. In addition, the Rules of Engagement , the rules of conduct for the military forces, were laid down before the deployment. The success of the mission was not achieved until France intervened with its own mission, Opération Licorne .

Second assignment in Liberia

In 2003, under pressure from the United States , ECOWAS launched a similar mission called ECOMIL to stop the rebel occupation of Monrovia during peace negotiations after another outbreak of violence in Liberia. In this case, a powerful ECOWAS force with several thousand soldiers could be set up within a very short time, as Nigeria participated in the operation. Since ECOMIL was intended as an interim solution, it was quickly replaced by the UNMIL mission of the United Missions.

Conclusion and consequences

For the operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone, Nigeria provided more than 75 percent of the budget and troops for the ECOMOG missions. The mission in Guinea-Bissau failed due to the lack of participation by Nigeria and the mission in Ivory Coast was only successful due to the relocation of French troops to the crisis region. This shows the importance of Nigeria as a guarantor of security in West Africa.

Another problem is the competition between Anglophone and Francophone countries. In Liberia and Sierra Leone, Nigeria became active on the basis of national interests. In Guinea-Bissau and the Ivory Coast, on the other hand, there was strong financial support from France, and Nigeria declined to intervene in these countries. A common security policy within the ECOWAS states was not evident. Talks were held from 1999 to address these problems. The Mediation and Security Council was created, which can only resolve missions with a two-thirds majority of all members. In addition, the creation of an ECOMOG standby force was started in order to be able to mobilize troop contingents from the individual member states more quickly. This armed force has the following tasks:

  • Monitoring and control of armistices
  • Maintaining and creating peace
  • Implementation of humanitarian interventions
  • Execution of preventive missions
  • Disarmament and demobilization of irregular armed forces


commander Country of operation Period
Major General Gabriel Kpamber Sierra Leone 2000
Brigadier General Abu Ahmadu Sierra Leone 2000
General Maxwell Khobe Sierra Leone 1999
Major General Felix Mujakperuo Sierra Leone 1999
Brigadier General Abdul One Mohammed Sierra Leone 1998
Brigadier General G. Kwabe Liberia 1998
Brigadier General Abdul One Mohammed Liberia 1998
General Rufus Kupolati Liberia 1998
Major General Timothy Shelpidi Guinea-Bissau 1997
Lieutenant General Chikadibia Isaac Obiakor Liberia 1996-1997
Brigadier General Victor Malu Liberia 1993
Brigadier General Adetunji Idowu Olurin Liberia 1992-1993
Major General Joshua Dogonyaro Liberia 1991
General Arnold Quainoo Liberia 1990


ECOMOG originally consisted of a hundred, mostly Nigerian soldiers . Due to the violence and the extent of the Liberian civil war, the number of ECOMOG troops rose to 20,000 soldiers. With the 1999 agreement, which called for a permanent ECOMOG force, ECOMOG was set at the strength of a brigade .

So far, twelve ECOWAS member states have assigned troop contingents to ECOMOG:


Two countries without ECOWAS membership have also already sent troops under ECOMOG:



  • Adekeye Adebajo: Liberia's Civil War: Nigeria, ECOMOG, and Regional Security in West Africa , Lynne Rienner / International Peace Academy, 2002
  • David Wippman: Enforcing Peace: ECOWAS and the Liberian Civil War in Lori Fisler Damrosch: Enforcing Restraint, Collective Interventions in Internal Conflicts , Council on Foreign Relations, New York, 1993
  • Eric G. Berman, Katie E. Sams: Peacekeeping In Africa: Capabilities And Culpabilities , United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, Geneva, 2000, ISBN 92-9045-133-5
  • Andreas Keller: Regional peacekeeping and peacemaking by developing countries using the example of Africa , GRIN-Verlag, 2009, ISBN 978-3-640-71074-4

Web links


Human rights violations

Individual evidence

  1. Adekeye Adebajo, 2002, pp. 64–5; see also David Wippman, 1993, pp. 157-203
  2. Berman and Sams, 2000, p. 88-89
  3. Adekeye Adebajo, 2002, pp. 78–79
  4. Adekeye Adebajo, 2002, p.107
  5. Adebajo, 2002, p. 108
  6. The Mask of Anarchy , by Stephen Ellis, 2001 (There is also an NYU Press Updated Edition 2006, ISBN 0-8147-2238-5 )
  7. Mitikishe Maxwell Khobe, in Monograph No. 44
  8. Operation Assured Lift, accessed January 24, 2013
  9. ^ Andreas Keller, 2009, page 18
  10. UNSC: Document 294 Report of the Secretary-General pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1216 (1998) relative to the situation in Guinea-Bissau, March 17, 1999
  11. ^ Andreas Keller, 2009, page 18
  12. Adebajo, 2002, p.234
  13. ^ Andreas Keller, 2009, page 22
  14. ^ Andreas Keller, 2009, page 23
  15. ^ Andreas Keller, 2009, pages 22-23
  16. ^ Andreas Keller, 2009, pages 23–24
  17. BARRACKS: THE HISTORY BEHIND THOSE NAMES , see Chapter f, accessed January 24, 2013