The event, held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre was graced by the Vice President of the Gambia, chief justices, ministers and representatives from different ECOWAS member states.
President of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, Justice Edward Amoako Asant, explained that the ECOWAS Court of Justice organises an international conference on an important legal theme every year in the territory of a Member State, in collaboration with the host government. He said it is the most important programme in the annual work programme of the Court.
“The international conference affords us the opportunity to bring together Hon Judges of the ECCJ, heads of ECOWAS institutions, heads of regional courts, development partners, and relevant stakeholders from Member States, including; Chief Justices and Supreme Court Justices, Law Professors, and other legal experts/resource persons.:
The confab also brings together heads of ECOWAS National Offices, Presidents of Bar Associations, and the Civil Society to discuss important thematic issues for the benefit of the Community.
“It therefore provides an excellent forum for cross fertilization of ideas by the legal experts, resource persons and participants, on themes with regional significance from a regional perspective,” he said.
Asant further described the theme as a burning issue, noting that it was carefully chosen by the Court because of the several incidences of unconstitutional change of government witnessed in the sub region in recent years.
He continued that there have been military interventions in governance through military coups in the past two years in three ECOWAS Member States: republics of Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso. He added that these Member States are under military dictatorships and have been suspended from the Community by the Authority of Heads of State and Government.
“The intention of the Court in choosing this theme is to focus on the need for participatory democracy and constitutional order in all ECOWAS Member States, and in particular on the ECOWAS policy of Zero Tolerance for Unconstitutional Change of Government. Under the various sub themes, the conference will also examine the linkages with the rule of law and the duty of Member States to respect, protect and fulfil human rights in their territories; the underlying factors of political instability, terrorism and insecurity in the sub region; failure by Member States to fulfil their obligations to ECOWAS; weak institutions of Member States; and the lack of political will for the implementation of community obligations.”