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.
• Bad Governance promotes wrong and
incoherent policy options and invariably
• 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
ECOWAS Vision on Governance and
A Politically Stable, Secured,
Democratic and Well
Governed Sub-region, that will
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:
• Constitutional Convergence Principles:
Zero tolerance for coups and unconstitutional seizure of
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.
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
• 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
• 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
• 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
• 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.