Global Journal of Political Science and Administration (GJPSA)

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Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Regional Integration and The Theoretical Lapses


Regional Integration has many contending theoretical approaches. Once adopted, it is expected that it will lead to the attainment of the objectives of the regional body. ECOWAS adopted many approaches including Functionalism,Neo-functionalism and Inter-governmentalism. This paper seeks to explain if these theories were appropriate at the time they were adopted and to what extent the theories have influenced the performance of the ECOWAS. The study adopted qualitative approach while descriptive research method was applied. The findings revealed that ECOWAS, at inception, adopted David Mitrany’s functionalist theory which stipulates that issues of low politics should be addressed first if integration is to be achieved fast. Midway, the regional body diverted to Ernest Haas’ neo-functionalist theory of integration which theory stipulates that for cooperation that will lead to integration to be achieved, high political issues should first be addressed. Both theories believe in spill-over, that is, once either of the theories is applied and achieved, it will lead to the other. The application of these two theories in addition to the theory of inter-governmentalism inappropriately has resulted in integration stagnation of ECOWAS because of conflict of functions. Integration is such a complex project which should not be concentrated in single heads but base on necessary institutions for it to strive. It is therefore recommended that the ECOWAS should start working toward achieving political stability of member states while pursing economic integration. It does not matter if that is tantamount to neo-functionalism, what is important is the creation of necessary economic environments for regional integration to strive.

Keywords: Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Regional Integration, theoretical lapses

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