1st Edition

The Rise of a Regional Institution in Africa Agency and Policy-Formation within the ECOWAS Commission

By Lukas Maximilian Müller Copyright 2023
    184 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    184 Pages 17 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book focuses on the ECOWAS Commission, both as an autonomous actor, as well as a policy-making nexus for its member states and external actors.

    Drawing from a variety of never-before analyzed sources, unpublished internal documents and over 120 interviews with staff from the ECOWAS Commission, its member states, and external actors supporting the organization, this book presents a comprehensive portrait of ECOWAS’s institutional capabilities, challenges, and reforms. It utilizes a policy studies approach focusing on the areas of political affairs, peace, and regional security, as well as trade and customs to illustrate concrete cases of policy making. In doing so, the book provides practice-oriented insights into the policy-making agency within the organization, arguing for the significance of the ECOWAS Commission as an actor.

    This book will be of interest to scholars and students of West Africa and its international relations, comparative regionalism, international organization studies, development studies, policy-making, peace and conflict studies, governance and more broadly to African politics and international relations.

    1. Introduction

    2. Analyzing Policy-Making Agency in ECOWAS

    3. Delegating Policy Making: ECOWAS Member States and their Commission

    4. Driving Policy Making: Commission Agency in Trade and Customs

    5. Supporting Policy Making: External Actors’ Agency in Trade and Customs

    6. Driving Policy Making: Commission Agency in Political Affairs, Peace and Regional Security

    7. Supporting Policy Making: External Actors’ Agency in Political Affairs, Peace and Regional Security

    8. Conclusion


    Lukas Maximilian Müller is the Advisor for Emergency and Transitional Aid for the Lake Chad Region at Caritas Germany.

    "This is one of the few new works on ECOWAS exploring the institutional and bureaucratic process leading to its transformation to tackle the region's ever-changing challenges. Written in an accessible style, the usage of and access to hitherto unused materials and key stakeholders makes this book a useful and welcome addition to the literature on ECOWAS. A very pertinent book for students, teachers, and policy makers."

    Kwesi Aning, Professor of Security Studies, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, Ghana.

    "Lukas M. Müller's book reinforces our understanding of the roles of the ECOWAS Commission and development partners in trade, custom, peace and security during a defining period in West Africa's history. From the author's perspective, these actors appear to have played a dominant role in shaping regional integration in West Africa. The book provides a perspective on the inner workings of a bureaucracy that leverages the social capital provided by external actors to compel regional decision-makers to respect regional normative frameworks. The progress, stalemates, setbacks, and frustrations experienced in this process illustrate how complex regionalism can be without binding legislations to enforce regional normative frameworks. The book is recommended to students of regionalism and all those interested in understanding the politics and praxis of decision-making in Africa's most dynamic region."

    Kehinde Bolaji, Programme Manager, Africa Borderlands Centre, UNDP, and Former Political Affairs Officer, ECOWAS Commission (2006-2014).

    "Finally, the authoritative book on the ECOWAS Commission, Western Africa’s paramount regional organization for security and economic integration, has arrived! Empirically rich and theoretically sound, the author describes the Commission as a nexus for policymaking balancing member-state delegation, organizational autonomy, and partnership with external donors. Grasping the Commission as an open system, Lukas M. Müller’s in-depth and meticulous study significantly advances our knowledge about regional organizations and their administration. This book is of tremendous relevance to comparative regionalism and international public administration alike and deserves to be read by practitioners and scholars who are interested in the development of organizations governing the Global South."

    Stefan Gänzle, Professor of Political Science, University of Agder (UiA), Kristiansand, Norway.

    "In an empirically rich and engaging account of West African regional integration Lukas Maximilian Müller convincingly explains how member states, the ECOWAS administration and donor agencies form a governance complex that can only be understood by capturing their mutual entanglements. Müller also unveils how more engagement by national or external actors does not necessarily improve the quality of regional governance, making this book not just a valuable reference for those working on West African integration but also an insightful contribution to comparative regionalism more broadly."

    Frank Mattheis, United Nations University Institute on Comparative Regional Integration Studies (UNU-CRIS), Belgium.

    "This well-researched and insightfully argued book provides a comprehensive and compelling account of the work of the ECOWAS Commission in the fields of politics, economic integration, peace, regional cooperation, and global affairs. Müller takes advantage of his incredible access to a wide range of officials at ECOWAS and internal documents to offer policymakers, academics, diplomats, international bureaucrats, and perceptive general readers, the best single-authored book on ECOWAS in the last decade."

    Thomas Kwasi Tieku, King’s University College, University of Western Ontario, Canada