Preventing armed conflict in Guinea-Bissau


A diplomatic intervention led by Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the deployment of the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau helped to prevent armed conflict in Guinea-Bissau in 2012.

Guinea-Bissau was subjected to a civil war, three coups d’état, an army mutiny, the assassination of the president, and an Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Military intervention in the decade or so prior to the 2012 elections.1 In April of that year, just weeks before the population was scheduled to go to the polls, the military took power in yet another coup d’état. This chronic instability not only threatened to trigger a return to civil war, but also aggravated the Casamance Conflict in neighbouring Senegal and provided a haven for drug traffickers on their way to Europe.2 In response, a range of international organisations worked to prevent armed conflict and foster stability in Guinea-Bissau.

ECOWAS began by demanding that the military junta reinstate civilian rule and acquiesce to the deployment of a peacekeeping mission.3 The following month, a transitional government took power and over 600 troops of the ECOWAS Mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) were deployed to the capital, Bissau. They were tasked with re-asserting government control across the country, guarding senior politicians, and beginning a Disarmament, Demobilisation, and Reintegration process.4 The 2012 elections cancelled by the military junta were re-scheduled for 2014, and although they went ahead peacefully, disputes within the victorious party led to another political crisis which once again threatened destabilise the country.5 In August 2015, ECOWAS dispatched a Special Envoy to mediate an end to the crisis, while ECOMIB personnel maintained law and order. The EU provided support to the Mission, covering the cost of the entire operation until the crisis was resolved.6 Additional support was provided by the United Nations Integrated Peacebuilding Office for Guinea-Bissau, which focused on strengthening state institutions.7 In October 2016, President Alpha Conde of Guinea hosted negotiations between Bissau-Guinean politicians and civil society organisations. The talks culminated on 14 October 2016 with the Conakry Accord, which created the framework for constitutional rule and an ECOWAS monitoring process to ensure its implementation.8 In 2019, the President of Guinea completed his constitutionally mandated term of office for the first time in history.9

1 BBC. “Guinea-Bissau profile – Timeline.” BBC News. (2018) Available at: (Accessed 10/11/2020)

2 Davin O’Regan & Peter Thompson. Advancing Stability and Reconciliation in Guinea-Bissau: Lessons from Africa’s First Narco-State. (Washington, DC: Africa Center for Strategic Studies, 2013)

3 BBC. “Guinea-Bissau: First Ecowas peacekeeping troops arrive.” BBC News. (2012) Available at: (Accessed 10/11/2020)

4 The Africa-EU Partnership. Mission in Guinea-Bissau (ECOMIB) – ECOMIB I & II. (EU, 2019) Available at: (Accessed 10/11/2020)

5 Brown Odigie. “ECOWAS’s efforts at resolving Guinea-Bissau’s protracted political crisis, 2015-2019.” ACCORD Conflict Trends 2019, No. 2. (2019) Available at: (Accessed 10/11/2020)

6 African Peace Facility. ECOWAS Mission in Guinea Bissau (ECOMIB): Factsheet. (EU, 2018)

7 Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs. UNIOGBIS: UN Integrated Peacebuilding Office in Guinea-Bissau. (UN, 2020) Available at: (Accessed 10/11/2020)

8 United Nations Secretary-General. “Capitalize on Conakry Accord as Important First Step to Ending Institutional Crisis, Secretary-General Urges Political Stakeholders in Guinea-Bissau.” UN Press Release. (2016) Available at: (Accessed 10/11/2020)

9 Odigie. “ECOWAS’s efforts at resolving Guinea-Bissau’s protracted political crisis, 2015-2019.”

Start Year


End Year




UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Risk of a vertical (state-based) intrastate conflict

Type of Initiative

Diplomacy, Mediation of a peace agreement, Peacekeeping mission

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The Economic Community of West African States, EU, UN, and the Government of Guinea.




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