The ECOWAS Court of Justice has recommended viable solutions that should be adopted by Member States to strengthen the ECOWAS regional integration agenda.
The ECOWAS Court presented the recommendations in a statement on Sunday at the end of its week-long international conference in Praia, Cape Verde, aimed at strengthening regional integration through an effective judicial system.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the recommendations followed fruitful deliberations by as many as 250 participants, including judges from member states, experts, academics, among others.
Participants made recommendations in all areas of ECOWAS mandates aimed at strengthening West Africa’s integration agenda.
The statement noted that each state is guided by laws enshrined in the constitution and must ensure that these laws are respected and implemented, hence the importance of the role of the ECOWAS Court.
“It is recommended that the supranational characteristics of ECOWAS be strengthened by strengthening the powers of the Commission and granting the Court jurisdiction to hear cases brought by individuals in accordance with ECOWAS laws.
“The deadlines are barely respected by ECOWAS, which weighs down the integration process and the expectations.
“It is recommended that a monitoring and evaluation mechanism be put in place to continuously assess the state of readiness of each Member State vis-à-vis the objectives set.
“(It’s) for the purpose of helping those who are not engaged or making good progress towards the goals.
“It is recommended that ECOWAS put in place a system to monitor Member States’ implementation 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 strive to give ECOWAS citizens the opportunity to play a greater role in the integration process.
“This should be done by taking measures to ensure political stability and the creation of a legal environment conducive to the implementation of economic integration policies.”
With regard to investments, he urged Member States, host communities and investors to explore the dispute resolution mechanism of the ECOWAS Court in accordance with the ECOWAS Investment Code.
He noted that this would enhance foreign direct investment in the Community.
“Member States shall ensure the smooth implementation of the ECOWAS Investment Policy and Codes as the single economic legal framework for the promotion, facilitation, protection and sustainable cross-border investment.”
Regarding the judicial system, he urged Member States and the ECOWAS Commission to take steps to harmonize the legal and judicial systems of the Community.
This, he explained, would be in line with the Revised Treaty and promote synergy between the ECOWAS Court and national jurisdictions.
“There should be frequent judicial dialogue between the judges of the ECOWAS Court and the municipal judges of the Member States,” they recommended.
He also recommended that the ECOWAS Commission “take the necessary measures to trigger the mechanism of sanctions against Member States that do not fulfill their community obligations”.
The conference urged Member States to establish a peer review mechanism, such as the African Union Peer Review Mechanism, to monitor Member States’ compliance with their community obligations.