ECOWAS Court of Justice conference in Sierra Leone calls for cooperation and integration in West Africa

Sierra Leone Telegraph: 16 May 2024:

President Bio of Sierra Leone early this  week opened a four-day conference of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, Court of Justice on the theme, “Enhancing the role, relevance, and effectiveness of the ECOWAS Court of Justice through the strengthening of synergies between the Court and National Stakeholders”.

He expressed delight at the choice of Sierra Leone as a destination for the 2024 conference and reminded participants that the country is one of the founding members of ECOWAS in May 1975 and has remained firmly committed to the ideals and aspirations of its treaty.

The President urged member countries that “the need for cooperation and integration amongst our people in West Africa requires our concerted and best efforts. Such cooperation and integration are partly the key to our sub-region’s prosperity and the well-being of our people.

“The ECOWAS Court of Justice plays a pivotal role in advancing these noble objectives by upholding the principles of justice, fairness, and the rule of law across our region. As members of the ECOWAS, we are bound together by a shared vision of regional integration, cooperation, and promoting peace and prosperity for our people”.

President Bio confirmed at the conference that the establishment of the Court in 2001 was a welcome step by member countries toward fostering integration and cooperation and that the strides it had made since its inception were a testament to the importance of the institution.

The President associates the gains made by the court as a result of its expanded jurisdiction, which is in line with the Amended Protocol of 2005, including the authority to adjudicate the alleged violation of the human rights of the community’s citizens.

President Bio commends the leadership of the ECOWAS Court of Justice for what he described as “progressive; the Court is succeeding in increasing its crucial role of providing additional justice delivery options to the citizenry of the ECOWAS community.”

Vice President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Hon. Justice Gbéri-Bè Ouattara reminded the conference that the Court was established by the Lagos Treaty of May 28, 1975.

He also stated that the ECOWAS Revised Treaty was adopted in July 1993 and was recognised as the fundamental charter of ECOWAS and the roadmap for the economic integration of the Community.

Keynote speaker, Professor Ernest Kofi Abotsi, spoke largely around the topic of “enhancing the role, relevance, and effectiveness of the ECOWAS Court of Justice through the strengthening of synergies between the court and national stakeholders.”

“Courts are not in the business of engaging with any constituencies, actual or perceived. Indeed, the idea of courts having to network constituents may seem at first odd and inconsistent, even with the juridical character of the judicial institution, one structured to be detached, neutral, and authoritative in pronouncement, unperturbed by the effects of their rulings and consequences of their actions,” Professor Ernest Kofi Abotsi said.

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