Adjudicating Human Rights in the ECOWAS Court: Challenges and Prospects

By: Maame Efua Addadzi-Koom

ISBN: 978-91-86910-60-0


The ECOWAS Court has been heralded as a pacesetter among African regional courts because of its impact on human rights adjudication. Its outstanding work gained global recognition in March 2022, when Columbia University in the United States awarded it the Global Freedom of Expression Award. Nonetheless, the Court faces some challenges that slow down its advancement of human rights in the West African sub-region. This paper set out to achieve two things: to identify the challenges with adjudicating human rights in the ECOWAS Court and highlight the Court’s prospects in dealing with human rights cases. It finds, among other challenges, that the current court structure and the 70 per cent non-compliance rate are significant limitations facing the Court. The adoption of the COVID-19-induced virtual hearings is also among other prospects that can be harnessed for more significant impact. The paper draws from the examples and experiences of other sub-regional and regional courts and tribunals to recommend how the ECOWAS Court can effectively adjudicate human rights.

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