Western Africa

In Western Africa there is the Economic Community of West African State (ECOWAS).

The fifteen member states of ECOWAS are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d'Ivoire, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

The Community Court of Justice - ECOWAS was created pursuant to the provisions of Articles 6 and 15 of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS. The Court is composed of seven judges appointed by the Authority of Heads of State and Government from a list of up to two persons nominated by each Member State. The court received its first case in 2004, which was filed by a businessman against the government of Nigeria for a violation of Community law in the closing of the border with Benin.

The Court ruled that under the Protocol only Member States could institute cases. The Court’s ruling began a discussion, headed by the Judges themselves, over the need to amend the Protocol to allow for legal and natural persons to have standing before the Court. Thus in January 2005, ECOWAS adopted a Supplementary Protocol to permit persons to bring suits against Member States. The jurisdiction of the Court was also revised to include review of violations of human rights in all Member States.

The sources of law to be applied by the Court under its original Protocol now include not only general principles of international law, but also those in relation to human rights.

The Supplementary Protocol also adds jurisdiction over any disputes arising under agreements, other than the Treaty, between Member States that so provide.


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