ECOWAS Court proffers strategies to strengthen region’s integration

The ECOWAS Court of Justice has recommended viable solutions that should be adopted by Member States to strengthen the regional integration agenda of ECOWAS.

The ECOWAS Court outlined the recommendations in a communique on Sunday following its week-long international Conference in Praia, Cape Verde, aimed at strengthening regional integration through an effective judicial system.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the recommendations followed successful deliberation by no fewer than 250 participants which included Judges from Member States, experts, academia, amongst others.

Participants made recommendations across all scopes of ECOWAS mandates geared at strengthening the West Africa integration agenda.

The communique noted that every state was guided by laws enshrined in the constitution and must ensure that those laws were obeyed and implemented, hence the importance of the role of the ECOWAS Court.

“It is recommended that the supranational features of ECOWAS should be strengthened by enhancing the powers of the Commission and granting the Court the jurisdiction to hear cases filed by individuals in respect of ECOWAS laws.

“Deadlines are hardly met by ECOWAS, thus making the integration process and expectations cumbersome.

“It is recommended that a monitoring and evaluation mechanism be put in place to continuously appraise the preparedness of each Member State towards targets set.

“(It is) with a view to assisting those not committed or making good progress to meet the targets.

 “It is recommended that ECOWAS should put a system in place to monitor the implementation by Member States of Community laws and to strengthen regulatory functions and commonality.

” (It is) in order to achieve a higher degree of supranationalism necessary for integration.

 “Member States and ECOWAS should endeavour to give ECOWAS citizens an opportunity to play a greater role in the integration process.

“This should be by taking steps to ensure political stability and the creation of an enabling legal environment for the implementation of economic integration policies.”

On investments, it urged Member States, host communities and investors to explore the dispute resolution mechanism of the ECOWAS Court in compliance with the ECOWAS Investment Code.

This it noted would enhance foreign direct investment in the Community.

“Member States should ensure the smooth implementation of the ECOWAS Investment Policy and Codes as a single economic legal framework for promotion, facilitation, protection and sustainable cross border investment.”

 On judicial system, it admonished Member States and the ECOWAS Commission to take steps to harmonise the legal and judicial systems of the Community.

This, it explained, would be in accordance with the Revised Treaty and promote synergy between the ECOWAS Court and the national courts.

“There should be frequent judicial dialogue between judges of the ECOWAS Court and the municipal judges of Member States,” they recommended.

It also recommended that ECOWAS Commission “take necessary steps to trigger the sanctions mechanism in relation to Member States that fail to fulfil their Community obligations.”

The conference urged Member States to establish a peer review mechanism such as the African Union peer review mechanism, to monitor compliance of Member States with their Community obligations. (NAN)

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