ECOWAS – 1st Forum of Ministers for Social Development

The Government of Mali and UNESCO organized the first Forum of Ministers for Social Development of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Bamako (Mali), on 25 and 26 January 2006, within the framework of UNESCO's Programme on Management of Social Transformations (MOST).


On the agenda of the first Forum of ECOWAS Ministers for Social Development – which took place three weeks before the first International Forum on the Social Science – Policy Nexus in Argentina and Uruguay (see SHS Newsletter 12) – was strengthening of cooperation in the field of social development.

The following four proposals were among several put forward in the plenary sessions:

  • Consolidation of the Permanent Forum of Ministers for Social Development
  • Availability of technical assistance to identify research needs
  • Development of specific instruments and bilateral cooperation projects
  • Inventory of best practices

At the closing session, attended by the Mali Prime Minister, ECOWAS Ministers – many of whom also attended the Buenos Aires Forum– adopted a joint Declaration in which they set out their “political will” and their “determination” to fight against poverty and to promote development policies which take into account all aspects of human development. Ministers were keen to help their countries strengthen subregional and regional integration, and strive for greater solidarity.

They called for regional (African Union) and subregional institutions (ECOWAS and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA)) to contribute to institutionalizing the Forum as an instrument of cooperation which in turn should promote discussions, dialogue and exchange of experiences in order to identify the best ways of promoting common social policies. With this aim in mind, a permanent structure has been set up, chaired by the host country, Mali, to run the Forum and perpetuate the achievements of this first encounter. The current chairperson is Djibril Tangara, Minister for Social Development, Solidarity and the Aged. The Minister was elected by acclamation for a period of one year; together with his peers and designated focal points in the relevant ministries, he is responsible for defining practical ways of organizing the Forum twice a year; networking of appropriate national institutions; establishment of sustainable cooperation based on the experiences of subregions in Africa, Latin America and Asia; and cooperation procedures with civil society and research institutions. Guinea will be organizing the 2nd Forum of ECOWAS Ministers for Social Development in 2007, and Sierra Leone will be hosting a technical meeting of the Forum in Summer 2006.

See also:
- Final Declaration
- The Report of the meeting (only available in French).
- "Secrétariat permanent du forum des ministres du développement social de la CEDEAO" (only available in French)
- "Présentation du projet: combattre la traite des personnes en Afrique"(only available in French)

Focal Point of the Forum Secretariat :
Mr Adama Diarra, Director, National Solidarity Fund, Mali

UNESCO Focal Point
Cecilie Golden c.golden(at)


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