Economic Community of West African States

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(ECOWAS) An economic grouping constituted largely on the initiative of General Gowon at Lagos in 1975 by 15 West African countries, and later (1977) joined by Cape Verde. Its object was to provide a programme of liberalization of trade and to bring about an eventual customs union. A common fund was established to promote development projects, with specialized commissions for trade, industry, transport, and social and cultural affairs. A new treaty was signed in 1993, designating the creation of a free-trade zone and a single currency as specific objectives. A parliament and court of justice were established in 2000 and 2001 respectively. The organization contributed significantly to resolving West Africa's armed conflicts in the 1990s.

Subjects: History — Social Sciences.

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