Working Paper No. 49 - The social dimension of regional integration in ECOWAS

This paper highlights the avenues open to African regional economic communities to strengthen socio-economic development. Foremost among these is reinforcing social dialogue and the social partners for their effective engagement. The author makes suggestions as to how the ILO and other institutions could facilitate this process in ECOWAS, which is politically open to it.

Regional economic integration arrangements have their own purpose, legal framework, institutional set-up, history, and trajectory, and this paper aims to study these factors in relation to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). When dealing with regional integration, it is important to consider governance, trade liberalization, and its social impact. The paper focuses on the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) to analyze labour law harmonization, poverty reduction strategies for development, gender empowerment, and democratic participation. Suggestions to strengthen socio-economic development include promoting social dialogue and how the International Labour Organization and other institutions' can help with better integration in Western Africa. Ultimately, identifying and understanding the unique economic integration arrangements of certain communities can help develop their paths towards a fairer globalization for all.