The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court working in partnership with TrustAfrica to implement a project aimed at contributing to strengthening the ECOWAS Court of Justice held a two-day consultative workshop on the 11-12 April, 2018 on “Strengthening the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice and Enhancing Access to Justice in the Sub-Region”.
The meeting allowed for constructive dialogue with stakeholders and key actors from civil society organizations, Ministries of justice and ECCJ on key issues and concerns that relate to the capacity of the Court to administer efficient, expeditious and cost-effective justice delivery for victims of human rights violations in the sub-regions and to improve awareness and understanding of the functioning of the court.
At the close of the meeting, several key decisions were reached, one of which was for CSOs to form a coalition under the umbrella and name of “Coalition for Effective ECOWAS Community Court of Justice” with a mandate to support the Court, work with all its organs in strengthening its capacity and systems, and engage with the members states to ensure the integrity, capacity, and resources of the Court are adequately provided.
IMPORTANCE OF THE NETWORK
The role of civil society organisations in the democratic framework of the West Africa sub-region mostly in promoting and enhancing social and economic rights and addressing the challenges faced cannot be overemphasized. Despite the vast potential and the advantage that the ECOWAS Court has in advancing human rights in the sub-region it is not functioning effectively and efficiently. Even with the irrefutable achievements of the ECCJ in delivering landmark judgment and setting precedents in novel areas of human rights there is still a need for CSOs to take up activities geared towards effective enlightenment of the public on the benefits of the court.
In light of the above, the mandate of the network will be to engage in various supportive strategies and mechanisms that will foster the effective functioning of the Court and in demanding accountability from the government of member states including but not limited to the following;
- Sensitization on the enforcement of the decisions of the court by member states which will help in strengthening the institution and also enhance the confidence and trust of the public in the court.
- Engaging with member states and other institutions to secure political support for the Court.
- Engage policy makers and also lobby them to promote accountability and support them to fulfill their obligations under the ECOWAS Treaty. Membership is open to all individuals and Civil Society Organizations working to promote human rights, rule of law and good governance in West Africa.