The ECOWAS Court of Justice and the African Court have taken significant steps towards enhancing the execution of their respective mandates through a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in Arusha, United Republic of Tanzania. The two Courts also adopted a comprehensive five-year Plan of Action to ensure the effective implementation of the MOU.
The MOU, signed on June 24, 2023, following a three-day judicial dialogue, strengthens the existing collaboration between the ECOWAS and African Courts in safeguarding human and peoples’ rights. Under the MOU, both courts have agreed to foster cooperation through staff exchanges, representation in each other’s programs, joint training, and knowledge sharing. The publication of their respective jurisprudence, research, and capacity building will also be undertaken within the framework of their constituent instruments.
During the productive dialogue, the Presidents of the ECOWAS and African Courts, Honorable Justice Edward Amoako Asante and Honorable Lady Justice Imani Aboud, presided over discussions on various topics related to their mandates. The officials of both courts made presentations, covering areas such as human rights, overlapping jurisdictions, court structures, appointment procedures, funding, access, admissibility of cases, compliance with decisions, and implementation mechanisms.
To further strengthen their collaboration, the legal staff of both courts engaged in a working session, sharing experiences and exchanging ideas on matters of common interest. They focused on case management, judgment drafting, legal aid, enforcement of judgments, and the challenges encountered in these areas. The session aimed to identify effective measures to address these challenges and enhance the overall efficiency of the courts.
The dialogue also included a review of the previous MOU, which expired in March 2021. The courts identified the impediments that hindered the effective implementation of its provisions and recommended its renewal. Proposals were put forth to ensure that the successor MOU is more effective, practical, and capable of achieving the desired outcomes.
As part of their visit to Arusha, the ECOWAS Court delegation, accompanied by judges from the African Court, also had the opportunity to engage with the United Nations International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (IRMCT) and the East African Court of Justice. These interactions facilitated the exchange of insights and experiences on the operations and challenges faced by these regional and international judicial bodies.
The signing of the MOU and the adoption of the Plan of Action mark a significant milestone in the collaboration between the ECOWAS and African Courts. The strengthened cooperation between these two regional courts will contribute to the advancement of human rights protection and the effective administration of justice across West Africa and the African continent as a whole. By working together, these courts aim to overcome challenges, enhance their respective mandates, and ensure the delivery of justice to the people they serve.