Friday, April 23, 2010

Read Protocols, Treaties, and Resolutions like Holy Books

ECOMOG Co-Founder Advised Journalist

News Banjul The Gambia “As journalists you need to be reading and making research and be well up date with ECOWAS protocols, treaties and resolutions” these were the words of the Co-Founder of ECOWAS Cease Fire and Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) retired Brigadier General Francis Agyemfra while presenting a paper at the ongoing two weeks training for fourteen West African journalists at the Ghana International Press Centre in Accra on the 22 April, 2010.

Retired Brigadier General Agyemfa was presenting a paper on “the role of ECOMOG in West African security strategies: How can public option and the media contribute to peace in the region”.

According to him, journalist needs to read lot of protocols, treaties, and resolutions to keep them in their memories, so as to be well familiar with issues surrounding them. He added that all the agreements that are signed, by our leaders, journalists should keep to toes by domesticating and implementing it into our local laws.

“Your role is very crusade in promoting peace in any country but in the other way around you can also escalate conflict by not reporting the truth and supporting the other side”. He went on in any conflict position in the region, “please use the pages of your paper to be neutral”, adding that neutrality accounts a lot as a journalist in the maintenance of peace and to resort democracy.

He caution West African journalist to be the watch dog of the society and keep government officials at their toes. Government officials need to be accountable to their citizens, in doing so, you need to report on issues that are in the intrest of the public.

He continued, “you also need to know laws that govern your work, be well that you operates, Always be reading your constitution, let all these be your holly book”.

He put to journalist to be covering variety of events and to be going around searching for news but not to be sitting in air condition offices waiting for “ready made” news to be on their desk.

Retired Brigadier General giving an example said that he is always impressed with the Cable News Network (CNN), journalists revealing that CNN journalists are everywhere looking for news and tasked West African journalists to emulate”.

He also expressed disappointment that some journalists are turning to be “brown envelope” journalists while not focusing on their primary roles .i.e educate, inform and entertain the masses.

He advised journalists to be independent not to be supporting ruling government noting that journalists need to speaks for the voiceless at all times. He stressed that journalists need to keep citizens up date with first hand information stating that it is the responsibility of journalists to spread message but should be accurate, balance and fair.

Giving an account of ECOMOG, he said that ECOMOG has done a lot of work for the sub-region in restoring peace and democracy in West Africa. He mentioned that it was the ECOMOG contingent that rescued the people of Liberia during the civil war.

According to him, at the time of their first operations in Liberia, ECOMOG did not receive any financial assistance from any government nor donor agency.

He revealed that ECOMOG only received support when the international community realized that embassies, United Nations properties were burnt into ashes by rebel groups, he said it was then that they received support from international donors.

In a related development, journalist s also had has the opportunity to visit the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), and were received by Colonel Dieter Schneider, Head of Training Development , in which he used the meeting to expressed his profound gratitude and happiness to the journalists for their visit to the centre as part of the course.

He said that KAIPTC is a centre which is Ghanian led but has a sub-regional (ECOWAS) focus adding that the centre is supported by international donors and stakeholders, has a high caliber staff with regional and international representation.

On vision of the centre, he said is to develop a regional (ECOWAS) centre of excellence with high standard while developing it into a world class education, training, and research facility for Africa, embracing all aspects of peace operations.

Still on visions, he stated to examine specific peace operations issues at the operational level and to enhance in “best practices” noting that also to train and to study an increasingly wide range of subjects involving participants from the full spectrum of military, security sector, diplomatic, and non- governmental agencies likely to be involved in peace support operations.

According to Colonel Schneider their objectives is to deliver internationally accredited and certified training for regional military, police and civilian personnel and to promote capacity building to consistently improve the organizational and institutional capacity in the region for dealing with peace.

He spoke at length on the objectives about the centre saying that the centre also collaborate with ECOWAS , African Union (AU), United Nations(UN), and other international organizations, stakeholders, and governments to enhance capacity of pursuance of conflict transformation.

He spelled out that the centre is tasked to improve awareness and understanding of peace operations issues, to prepare units for successful deployment on peace operations, to improve multinational interoperability, to conduct research and to maintain liaison with the National Defence College of Abuja, Nigeria and Bamako, Mali.

The centre addresses a broad spectrum of peace related issues across the security sector citing conflict prevention, crises management, conflict management, conflict resolution, opst conflict reconstruction and focuses activities at the operational level of peace support operations ion in a multi-faceted environment all as part of the nature of the centre, he explained.

Outlining the challenges, he told journalists that , their principal challenges facing the centre is to secure long term donor support and commitment, conducting training at operational level for ECOWAS Standby Force(ESF) and enhance regional (ECOWAS) direction and focus amongst others.

He also shared experiences with journalists during his mission in Kosovo war, and caution journalists to always portray positive reporting. He said that journalists should be responsible and independent.

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