In the fourth SID Lecture of the 2013/2014 Series ‘Dispersed Power in a World in Transition’, Dr. Marc Atouga emphasised that regional cooperation is the way to go in the future. Not because the nation state is dysfunctional, as Dr. Benjamin Barber argued last month, but rather because it often simply lacks the clout to bring any weight to the negotiation table. And in the current state of affairs in international relations, the power of a nation is not so much defined by its army but by its economic weight. It is for that reason that countries should cooperate and integrate, said Dr. Atouga.

ECOWAS unites a number of countries from West Africa, among them some of the poorest in the world. Apart from Nigeria, Dr. Atouga pointed out, none of these countries has more than 24 million inhabitants. It is therefore essential that they cooperate to make their voice heard on the world stage. This is particularly so in the case of the negotiations with the European Union. The EU wants ECOWAS to open up its markets for 85% in exchange for an elimination of trade barriers for ECOWAS products exported towards the EU. ECOWAS, however, has only one real production sector: agriculture. It therefore claims the right to protect it.

After Dr. Atouga’s introduction, a lively debate arose. Questions where raised about the recent WTO agreements on agriculture, Economic Partnership Agreements with the EU and the role of ECOWAS in managing natural resources.

You can read the Summary Report here.

De Correspondent published an article on the theme of the SID Lecture.

Please also note that two of the students in the audience wrote a blog post, with their thoughts on Atouga’s talk. You can find them below:
Blog: Brown
Blog: Stitczay

Video with the main insights of the SID Lecture: