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54 J. Afr. L. 1 (2010)

handle is hein.journals/jaflaw54 and id is 1 raw text is: Journal of Afncan Law, 54, 1 (2010), 1-25 C School of Oriental and African Studies, 2010.
doi:10.1017 S0021855309990143
Critical Issues in the Human Rights Mandate
of the ECOWAS Court of Justice
Solomon T Ebobrah*
A new opportunity for international human rights litigation in West Africa was pre-
sented in 2005 when the Economic Community of West African States adopted a
protocol to empower its judicial organ, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice,
to determine cases of human rights violation that occur in ECOWAS member states.
Since then, several human rights claims have been brought before the court.
However, critical questions concerning the legality of the new mandate and the suit-
ability of the court to exercise a human rights jurisdiction have lingered. Beginning
with an inquiry into the foundation within ECOWAS for the exercise of a human
rights jurisdiction, this article analyses the legitimacy of the human rights mandate
of the ECOWAS court and interrogates crucial issues relevant to the effectiveness of
the mandate. The article suggests ways to enhance execution of the mandate and
concludes with a call for careful judicial navigation in the exercise of the court's
expanded jurisdiction.
Some 14 years after the Economic Community of West African States
(ECOWAS) adopted the protocol establishing the ECOWAS Community Court
of Justice (ECCJ),' the ECCJ's mandate was radically altered by the introduction
of a human rights competence. Acting on an intention expressed in an earlier
protocol,2 the heads of state and govennment of ECOWAS member states
adopted a supplementary protocol in 2005 (the Supplementary Court
Doctoral candidate and tutor (LLM Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa), Centre
for Human Rights, University of Pretoria; lecturer, Niger Delta University, Nigeria. This
article is an adaptation of a research report submitted to the Danish Institute for
Human Rights as part of the institute's 2008 Research Partnership Programme. The
author is grateful for the support of the institute. The author accepts full responsibility
for the opinions expressed in the article but would like to thank Frans Viljoen, Stephanie
Lagoutte, Erik Anderson and Magnus Killander for their invaluable comments that
helped to shape it.
1   The ECCJ was established by Protocol A/P1/7/91 which was adopted and entered into
force provisionally in 1991. The court was constituted in December 2000 and became
functional in January 2001 with the appointment of judges.
2   See art 39 of Protocol A/SP1/12/01 on Democracy and Good Governance Supplementary
to the Protocol Relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management,
Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security.

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