Nwoke Advises ECOWAS Court, National Courts on Resolving Disconnect


A former Vice President of the ECOWAS Court, Prof. Friday Nwoke has advocated a triple approach towards resolving the disconnect between the Court and the national courts of the Member States, which have an important role in the enforcement of the decisions of the regional court.

In a paper presented at the ongoing 2024 international conference of the Court in Freetown, Nwoke suggested that the Court should focus on such measures as training for officials of national courts, workshops and meetings with the sole objective of facilitating cooperation as these will impact positively on compliance and the enforcements of the judgements of the Court.

Nwoke, whose presentation was under the sub theme “Enhancing the role, relevance of the ECOWAS Court through strengthened synergy with the national courts of Member States,” stressed the importance of regular dialogue and cooperation between the Court and the national courts which will require exchange of information, case law and best practices to build mutual trust and respect. 

He also urged Member States to revise their legal framework to incorporate provisions that recognize and enforce the decisions of the ECOWAS Court of justice, which will require aligning national laws with the ECOWAS Treaty and ensuring that national courts have the necessary legal tools to enforce the judgments of the regional court.

Nwoke also suggested that Member States enact legislation to recognize and enforce the judgments of the Court while the ECOWAS Commission and political actors, such as the Council of Ministers and the Authority of Heads of State and Government, should also be involved in the enforcement mechanism for decisions of the Court. 

Other recommendations made by the presenter includes the creation of a monitoring unit with responsibility for monitoring and supervising the enforcement, a provision for an annual reporting of the level of enforcement of the judgements of the Court.

He noted that while the Court enjoys the respect of Member States, the continued non-compliance with its decisions could undermine public confidence while characterising the Court’s independence, boldness, and impartiality as key to its credibility. 

He emphasized that strengthening the enforcement mechanism is essential to maintaining its effectiveness and ensuring compliance in good faith by member states.

The 2024 conference, which is being attended by 250 participants, is being held under 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.

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