The Ecowas Community Court of Justice, located in Abuja, Nigeria, was established in 1991 even though it only began judicial operations only in 2001. The court was created in accordance with Articles 6 and 15 of the Revised Treaty of the Revised Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States.
Protocol A/P1/7/91 of 6 July 1991, amended by Protocol A/SP1/01/05 of 19 January 2005, spells out the organisation, functioning and procedure followed before the Court.
It is the principal legal organ of the Economic Community of West African States with all fifteen member States, Benin , Burkina Faso , Cabo Verde , Cote d'Ivoire , The Gambia, Ghana , Guinea , Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali , Niger , Nigeria , Senegal , Sierra Leone and Togo – ipso facto parties to the Court’s statutes. The decisions of the Court are also legally binding on any of its member states.
The Court is composed of seven (7) independent judges, selected and appointed by the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, for a four- year term of office, from among nationals of Member States who are persons of high moral character.
Current judges include:

Vice President
Cape Verde
Vice President
Member Judge
Member Judge
Member Judge
Member Judge

Hon. Justice Aminata, (MALI), Hon. Justice B. Toe, (BURKINA FASO), Hon. Justice E.M. Tall, (SENEGAL) are the three former Judges that have served on the Bench.
The Court gives legal advisory opinion on any matter that requires interpretation of the Community text

The Court examines cases of failure by Member States to honour their obligations under the Community law;
  • The Court has competence to adjudicate on any dispute relating to the interpretation and application of acts of the Community;
  • The Court adjudicates in disputes between Institutions of the Community and their officials;
  • The Court has power to handle cases dealing with liability for or against the Community;
  • The Court has jurisdiction to determine cases of violation of human rights that occur in any Member State;
The Court adjudges and makes declarations on the legality of Regulations, Directives, Decisions, and other subsidiary legal instruments adopted by ECOWAS. Particularly noteworthy is that local remedies do not need to have been exhausted, before cases are brought to the ECOWAS Court of Justice. So every victim of a human rights violation can directly appeal to the court even while the case is subject to a national proceeding.
Cases may be brought before the Court by an application addressed to the Court Registry. Every application shall state.
  • the name and address of the applicant.
  • the designation of the party against whom the application is made.
  • the subject matter of the proceedings  and a summary of the pleas in law on which the application is based.
  • the form of order sought by the applicant.
  • where appropriate, the nature of any evidence offered in support.
  • an address for service in the place where the Court has its seat and the name of the person who is authorized and has expressed willingness to accept service.
  • in addition or instead of specifying an address for service, the application may state that the lawyer or agent agrees that service is to be effected on him by telefax or other technical means of communication.
The ECOWAS Court of Justice has already made a number of rulings on human rights issues. In 2008, the Court took a pioneering decision concerning slavery. The State of Niger was convicted having violated the human rights of one of its citizens. While the Court found that Niger was not itself responsible for the discrimination– the plaintiff was subjected to by a non-State actor, namely her former master – the country was found in violation of its international obligations to protect Mrs Hadijatou Mani from slavery under international as well as national law because of its tolerance, passivity, inaction, and abstention with regard to the practice. Niger had to pay reparations in the amount of 10 million CFA francs (more than 20,000 US-Dollar). The judgment has been referred to as historic, because this is one of the first slavery cases ever to be won at the international level.
Cases are filed before the Court through written applications addressed to the registry. Such applications must indicate the name of the applicant, the party against whom the proceedings are being instituted, a brief statement of the facts of the case, and the orders being sought by the plaintiff.


The Court applies the Treaty, the Conventions, Protocols and Regulations adopted by the Community and the general principles of law as set out in Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice.

In the area of human rights protection, the Court equally applies, inter alia, international instruments relating to human rights and ratified by the State or States party to the case.


Decisions of the Court are not subject to appeal, except in cases of application for revision by the Court; decisions of the Court may also come under objection from third parties. Decisions of the Court are binding and each Member State shall indicate the competent national authority responsible for the enforcement of decisions of the Court.
End of code


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