The President of the Community Court of Justice, ECOWAS Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante has on Monday, 2nd December 2019 in Nasarawa State, Nigeria expressed concern that the Court has not been able to exercise its arbitration mandate about 15 years from the adoption of the Supplementary Protocol which bestowed the mandate on the Court.

The President who made the statement at the occasion of the opening ceremony of the Legal workshop on review of the draft Arbitration Rules of the ECOWAS Court of Justice observed that the mandate of the Court to act as an Arbitration tribunal takes effect with the coming in to force of the Supplementary Protocol A/SP.1/o1/05 adopted on 19th January, 2005 and provisionally came into force that very day and wondered why it should take this long to implement.

Explaining the reason why the Court is unable to exercise its Arbitration mandate, Justice Asante attributed it to the fact that other institutions of the Community that are supposed to contribute to the operation of the tribunal failed to do so.

The President specifically frowned at the ECOWAS Commission which received the existing draft Arbitration Rules from the Court ten (10) years ago since 2011 and failed to take action despite repeated reminders. According to him, the role of ECOWAS Commission in the establishment of the Arbitration Rules is to convene a ” Legal Experts meeting to consider the draft Rules before submission to the Council of Ministers for approval”.

He maintained that importance of Arbitration cannot be over emphasised because it is an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Mechanism that is crucial to the economic integration agenda of the Community. He continued that having submitted to the Commission the Draft Arbitration Rules about 10 years ago, it has become necessary for the workshop to review it because of contemporary developments in the field of international commercial Arbitration.

Justice Asante, therefore, called on participants to work with assiduity in order to come up with a quality document which will be submitted to the Council of Ministers for approval and expressed the hope that the workshop will find way for a rapid approval by the Council of Ministers.

Mr. Tony Anene-Maidoh, the Chief Registrar of the Court while giving an overview of the objectives and expectations of the workshop stated that the workshop intends to review and propose amendments if need be to the Draft Arbitration Rules and also to ascertain whether or not there is a need to adopt in addition to the Rules of Arbitration, a specific Protocol on Arbitration Mandate of ECOWAS Court of Justice.

He further stated that to attract many foreign investors to our sub-region, an independent and impartial Regional Arbitration institution or centre of the Community domiciled in the ECOWAS Court of Justice, would be of great interest to foreign investors and community citizens alike.