ECOWAS, Governance and Human Rights Agenda

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					ECOWAS, Governance and
  Human Rights Agenda

         Dr. Said Adejumobi,
   Political Governance Adviser,
     Background: Why Governance
         and Human Rights?
• ECOWAS was established in 1975 for the purpose of
  economic cooperation, integration and development.

• The reality of political crisis, gross human rights
  violations, conflicts and civil wars, which ravaged the
  sub-region undermined those economic objectives.

• From December 1989, conflict broke out in Liberia,
  which had a rollercoaster effect on other countries
  especially in the Manor River Union-Sierra Leone,
  Guinea and Guinea Bissau.
• West Africa was caught in an
  interconnected web of instability, conflict
  and disorder, with regional dimension of
  arms flow, mercenary activities, child and
  youth soldiers etc.
• The initial reaction to those conflicts by
  ECOWAS was ad-hoc and unsystematic.
  Non-aggression treaties, mutual defence
  assistance etc were signed.
• By the early 1990s, it became obvious that
  a better organized response was needed.
  Governance Imperatives:
• Bad Governance promotes wrong and
  incoherent policy options and invariably
  economic decline.
• Bad governance breeds political tension,
  instability and conflicts.
• Bad governance creates social disharmony
  and deteriorates inter-group relations.
• Good governance constitutes the foundation
  of political stability, peace and sound
  economic management
ECOWAS Vision on Governance and
        Human Rights

A Politically Stable, Secured,
    Democratic and Well
Governed Sub-region, that will
      facilitate economic
 cooperation, integration and
   Legal and Political Framework on
    Governance and Human Rights
• The ECOWAS Revised Treaty of 1993.
• The ECOWAS Protocol Relating to the
  Mechanism on Conflict Prevention,
  Management, Resolution, Peace Keeping
  and Security, 1999.
• Supplementary Protocol on Democracy
  and Good Governance, 2001.
          Governance and Human Rights:
               Philosophical Basis:
• Constitutional Convergence Principles:
 Zero tolerance for coups and unconstitutional seizure of
    political power.
   Organization of free, fair and transparent elections.
    Empowerment and strengthening of democratic
    institutions especially the parliament, and judiciary.
    Enthronement and the respect for human rights and the
    rule of law.
    Guarantee of freedom of association including right to
    form political parties.
    Civil control over the armed and security forces.
    Freedom of association, and the right of the press.
              Human Rights.
 Strengthening the capacity of National Human
  Rights Institutions to protect the rights of the
 Establishment of a Network of National Human
  Rights Institutions in West Africa.
 Creation of regional norms and standards on
  human rights protection.
 Ensuring Periodic reporting on human rights
  violations by NHRIs to the ECOWAS
 Supporting Civil society Organizations to
  promote human rights.
      Initiative on Human Rights
• ECOWAS held a Brainstorming and Expert
  Planning Workshop on National Human Rights
  Institutions in West Africa in Accra, Ghana in
  July 2006.
• As a Follow-up, ECOWAS held a Consultative
  Meeting of National Human Rights Institutions in
  West Africa in Banjul, Gambia, November 2006.
• Facilitated the establishment of a “Network of
  National Human Rights Institutions in West
   Network of NHRIs in West Africa:
• To serve as a platform for the exchange of
  ideas and experiences

• To encourage harmonisation of legislation
  and policy framework pertaining to
  national human rights institutions and their

• To identify capacity needs and gaps, with
  a view to addressing them.
• To promote partnership with other
  stakeholders (e.g. parliaments, civil
  society, professional groups, academics
  etc) in the promotion of human rights in
  the sub-region.
• Facilitate the creation of Independent
  National Human Rights Institutions in West
  African countries where such do not exist.
• Ultimately, strengthen the capacity of
  NHRIs in the sub-region.
 Initiative on CSOs and Human Rights.

• ECOWAS facilitated the establishment of
  a West African Civil Society Forum
  (WACSOF), which is a network of CSOs in
  West Africa, of which part of its mandate is
  to support CSOs working on Human rights
• WACSOF engages in policy dialogue and
  advocacy on issues of regional concerns
  including human rights.
    Other Perspectives on Human
           Rights Support
• Strengthening the capacity of the parliaments in
  ECOWAS Member-states with a view to
  improving governance and human rights regime.

• Launching a major project on anti-corruption in
  West Africa. The fight against corruption is fast
  becoming a rights‟ based issue. Corruption has
  a corrosive effect on governance, social
  livelihood, and development generally.
• The initiative by the Commonwealth on the
  „Forum of Commonwealth NHRIs‟ is a
  welcome development. Human rights
  issues must resonate in all platforms,
  institutions and agencies-state and non-
• Human Rights protection is a „work in
  progress‟ both in developing and
  developed countries.
• A major challenge for this forum will be on
  how a global inter-governmental
  organization will bring governments-(its
  members states) to account on human
  rights violations. This is a major challenge
  to ECOWAS, which we are seeking
  creative ways to address.