Harmonisation of labour practices within the ECOWAS sub region
The promotion of employment, improvement of labour market and mobility of skills in ECOWAS region fall within the framework of the implementation of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons in its three stages - entry, residence, and establishment - the details of which are set out in four additional protocols.
The right of residence, which corresponds to stage two, (Additional Protocol A / SP / .1 / 7/86) grants citizens of countries in the ECOWAS area "the right of residence in its territory to take up and pursue an employed activity "(Article 2). The right of residence includes the right to apply for jobs and to exercise a job in accordance with the legislative and administrative provisions governing national workers.
These priorities also are reaffirmed in the ECOWAS Labor and Employment Policy (2009) and in its Youth Employment Action Plan (2012).
ECOWAS is also strongly committed to the implementation of labor market information systems, the harmonization of labor laws, the recognition and harmonization of different qualifications, and the guarantee of the portability of migrant workers’ rights through the implementation of the ECOWAS General Convention on Social Security.
The ECOWAS Tripartite Social Dialogue Forum was established in 2011 by the adoption of the Supplementary Act A / SQ.1/7 / 07/10 for the implementation of the Labour and Employment Policy and its Strategic Action Plan. It is specifically designed to support Social Dialogue and Tripartism in order to prevent and resolve conflicts, to promote peace and social stability, and stimulate socio-economic development and integration at the national and regional levels. During the last General Assembly held in Bamako, Mali, in 2015, the SDF, decided to move forward in the institutionalization process and recommend the establishment of a regional secretariat and two (2) thematic working groups, amongst which the Labour Migration working Group (LMWG).
The Migration Dialogue for West Africa (MIDWA) is the regional consultative process on Migration for West Africa. It includes the 15 ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania and aims at fostering a common understanding by policymakers of the causes, dimensions and impacts of migration in the region and promote coherent, evidence-based and comprehensive migration data and policies at the regional and national level. In the 2016 MIDWA Ministerial meeting, it was recommended the creation of eight regional thematic working groups on migration in order to facilitate the consultation process on specific issues related to migration and reinforce the fact-based decision making. One of these groups is the Regional Thematic group on Labor Migration.
In order to avoid duplication and enhance synergies amongst the different consultative processes in the region, it was agreed that one unique regional working group on migration will serve both consultative fora and will provide coordinated inputs to both the regional labour policies (through the SDF) and the regional migration policies (through the MIDWA).
The first regional migration policy for ECOWAS is currently under finalisation. The policy is structured in sectorial strategies. The inputs on the labor migration strategy were provided, amongst others, by the SDF and the members of the Labor Migration Working Group.
 Its overall objective is to develop, harmonize, coordinate and implement common policies to promote growth and development through decent work