The usefulness of International Courts such as the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice (ECCJ) does not lie in their mere creation and existence. They are useful and influential in promoting human rights, peace and justice only when they adjudicate cases and their decisions are enforced or fully complied with by state parties.
The ECCJ has been recognised as an important arm of the ECOWAS that is capable of promoting justice and human rights and by extension peace and security in the West Africa region. Unfortunately, however, the Court’s influence, significance, and contributions to peace and security in the region has been significantly undermined by the continuous disregard of the Court’s decisions (particularly those on human rights offences) among the same governments who set up the Court.
So far, over a dozen judgments of the Court (including over a dozen human rights-related ones) have been disregarded by various Member States. While the situation undermines calls for African crimes to be tried in Africa by Africans, it also works against the realization of ECOWAS’ vision of having an ECOWAS of the people rather of states.
Also, as the ECOWAS continues to pursue peace and stability in the region, it must be emphasised that, as highlighted in the
ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework, there cannot be peace and stability in the region without an assurance of justice for community citizens whose rights are violated.
Also, at a time when there is a serious advocacy for African crimes to be tried in Africa by Africans, there can’t be a better time to strengthen the ECCJ.
The above reasons among many others underscore an ongoing campaign by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and its partners, appealing to ECOWAS Heads of States to see the non-compliance of the ECCJ’s decisions as a major impediment in the quest for peace and stability in the region.
To ensure the strengthening of the ECCJ and the consequent promotion of peace and Justice in the region, the MFWA and its partners are urging Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), human rights groups and activists, and the media in West Africa to join this campaign to appeal for a discussion and a decision on the non-compliance of the ECJJ’s judgements during the upcoming Summit of ECOWAS Heads of State in December.
Please indicate your endorsement of this appeal by sending your organisation’s name to firstname.lastname@example.org by November 15, 2013.