The problems of insurgency and terrorism as well as other manifestations of instability in the region and their role in frustrating the emergence of an efficient and effective human rights regime in West Africa are among the issues to be examined by stakeholders during the 2018 international conference of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice which opens on Wednesday, 18th April 2018 in Bamako, Mali.
President of Mali, His Excellency Ibrahim Boubacar Keita will open the four-day conference which is being held under the theme Protection of Human Rights: A factor for peace-building in West Africa and will bring together academics, judges, lawyers, representatives of Civil Society, staff of the Court, the ECOWAS Commission and the Court’s partners.
“The conference is part of the periodic effort by the Court to compare notes with other regional human rights protection systems, experts in conflict prevention, management and resolution for the attainment of peace in the Community which is still confronting some challenges despite the huge investments made in the past towards the promotion of peace and stability,” the Dean of the Court, Honorable Justice Hameye Foune Mahalmadane explained.
The Dean, who chairs the planning committee for the conference said the region is still experiencing some conflicts, insurgency and terrorism that are militating against peace and development, necessitating the diversion of necessary resources that could otherwise be deployed for the development of the region.
Specifically, the biennial conference will compare the human rights protection system in the region with others; highlight the correlation between the protection of human rights and peace-building and economic integration; address the imperative for the rule of law, democracy and good governance and propose measures for improving the relationship between the court and national courts in order to kick start the process of referrals by national courts.
Participants will also suggest measures for improving access to the court; recommend measures for improving the enforcement of the judgements of the court and reflect on the various remedies for human rights violations.
The theme will be discussed under eight sub themes mainly the applicable human rights norms before the court; statelessness; human rights protection and peace-building in West Africa; Rule of law and good governance; conflict prevention, management and resolution; remedies for human rights violations; and enforcement of the judgements of the court.
Previous conferences, whose inaugural session was held in 2004 in Dakar, dwelt on Protecting the rights of ECOWAS citizens through the ECOWAS Court of Justice; An appraisal of the implementation of ECOWAS Community law and future perspectives; Free movement of persons and goods within the ECOWAS landscape; the law in the process of integration of West Africa; and strategies for strengthening the effectiveness of the ECOWAS Court.
The penultimate conference discussed Human rights as a fundamental value of ECOWAS while the last session in 2015 was held in Guinea Bissau under the theme Human rights as a fundamental value of ECOWAS: an analysis of the jurisprudence of the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
This year’s conference is being supported by the government of Mali, the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID) and the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).