By Biodun Busari
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court has reiterated that it will deploy all needed resources at all times to defend democratic principles and the rule of law of the sub-region.
ECOWAS stated this at the recommendations given at the end of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice International Conference held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre, Banjul, the Gambia.
The four-day conference held between the 22nd and 25th of May 2023, with the theme ‘ECOWAS’ Zero Tolerance for Unconstitutional Change of Government’ was designed to address challenges of member states to respect, protect and fulfil human rights in their
It also spotlighted the underlying factors for political instability, terrorism and insecurity in the sub-region; failure by Member States to fulfil their obligations to ECOWAS; weak institutions of Member States and the lack of political will for the implementation of community
The conference also examined the mandates of the ECOWAS Court of Justice in facilitating the integration process of the community and in holding Member States accountable for their treaty obligations.
It further looked at the roles of the national courts of the Member States and the ECOWAS Court of Justice in upholding and sustaining the rule of law and constitutional democracy in the sub-region; the ECOWAS Community Law and the challenges of enforcement of the judgements of the ECOWAS Court of Justice among other vital issues.
Rising from its conference, the ECOWAS Court, drafted its recommendations out of the seven sub-themes to upgrade the democracy and rule of law of the sub-region.
It also spelt out that the national courts of the member states shall be respected in the cases that have to do with their internal democracies and governments.
It said, “The Courts remain, guarantors of the constitutional democracy, and stakeholders must provide support despite the apparent noncompliance with their decisions. The ECOWAS Court is mindful of the fact that it is not an appellate court over the national courts of Member States.”
“Some of the key recommendations include to cultivate and strengthen a democratic culture that will favour economic growth, make a deliberate effort to discourage the teeming youths from being dangerously radicalised by terrorists, separatist militias, bandits, kidnappers, and ethno-religious fundamentalists within the West African sub-region.
“There will be strict adherence to the tenets of the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance to address the roots of political conflicts and ensure political stability, peace, and progress.
“Governments to adequately budget to deal with migration as part of the region’s development agenda. Involve national stakeholders in the architecture of peace and
security mechanism, strengthen the apolitical nature of the Armed Forces to guard
against unconstitutional changes of government and utilise early warning tools and existing Protocols to recalibrate the regional peace and security architecture.”
The international conference brought together over 300 participants drawn from Member States of the Community; Government Officials, the Judiciary, National Bar Associations,
National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs), ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, other ECOWAS Institutions and Agencies, ECOWAS Representation Offices in Member States, Regional Tribunals, Diplomatic Missions, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Universities
and Academia, International Development Partners and the Media.
The opening ceremony was graced by H.E. the President of the Republic of the Gambia, President Adama Barrow who was represented by the Vice President of the Republic of the Gambia, H.E. Muhammed B.S. Jallow.
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