The ECOWAS Court of Justice (CCJ) has bemoaned the low  enforcement of its decisions .

According to the sub-regional court, out of the over 400 decisions it had delivered since it started operations in 2001, only 131 have been enforced.

The Head of Legal Services and Research of the CCJ, Apraku Nketiah, who made this known at a press conference in Accra yesterday, said the lack of political will by member states to enforce 
the court’s decisions could defeat the mandate of the court under the ECOWAS treaty and protocols

He further stressed that low enforcement could make it difficult for citizens of ECOWAS to enjoy the full benefits of the court as envisioned by the ECOWAS treaty.

“We are not talking only in terms of only Ghana, but all the member states that have outstanding judgments yet to be implemented. We are employing all member states to do the needful. If the court does it work by delivering judgments and the judgments are not implemented, it does not give the needed efficacy to the court,” he said.


The press conference, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration in Accra, was part of a sensitisation programme by the CCJ in Ghana which was meant to explain the work of the court to the general public, as well as strengthen its partnership with key stakeholders.

 During the one-week sensitisation programme, the CCJ team, led by the President, Justice Edward Amoako Asante, interacted with law students, the Office of the Attorney-General and Ministry of Justice and the Ghana Bar Association (GBA).

The CCJ also held a Town Hall Meeting in Accra where various stakeholders and members of the general public attended to interact with the court.

What’s the CCJ?

The CCJ is the principal legal arm of ECOWAS, clothed with the mandate to provide relief for citizens of the 15 ECOWAS member states whose human rights, as enshrined in the ECOWAS Treaty, protocols and other international conventions, have been violated by their countries.

It also has jurisdiction to interpret the ECOWAS Treaty and protocols, resolve disputes between member states and any institution of ECOWAS, as well as disputes between member states in relation to the application of the ECOWAS Treaty and protocols.

The court is composed of five independent judges, appointed by the Authority of Heads of State, from nationals of Member States, for a        four-year non-renewable tenure.

In terms of enforcement, the Court does not have the mandate to enforce its decisions. Rather, member states have the duty to enforce decisions of the court relating to its jurisdiction.

Electoral disputes 

Mr Nketiah clarified that the CCJ does not have the jurisdiction to adjudicate on the electoral disputes of member states.

Rather, he said, the court was clothed with the jurisdiction to hear human rights violations of the ECOWAS protocols, if they occurred during elections.
“ECOWAS Court does not have the mandate to adjudicate on the elections of member states. However , if an individual from a member state feels that the conduct of an election had violated his human rights established by the ECOWAS treaty and human rights, then the court can come in under its human right  jurisdiction,” he stressed.

Apart from the low level of enforcement of the CCJ decisions, Mr Nketiah said the reduction of the judges of the court from seven to five, and the lack of ratification of the protocols of the court by some member countries, were some other challenges facing the court.

He appealed to member states to collaborate with the court to enable it effectively execute its mandate.

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