West African countries will need review and fortify the existing legal frameworks in the Community’s security architecture to equip the States with the mechanism for confronting the recurring post electoral conflicts in the region, the Secretary General of the Cote d’Ivoire’s National Council of Human Rights has said.

In a paper presented on the second day of the ongoing international conference of the ECOWAS Court of Justice in Banjul, The Gambia, Dr. Hassane Diane said the current sanctions regime for unconstitutional change of government has proved inadequate to cope with the menace with three of the Member States currently under military rule.

The sanctions regime consists of three components: refusal to support candidates submitted by the Member State for elective positions in international organizations; the refusal to hold any ECOWAS meeting in the Member State concerned; and the suspension of the Member State from all ECOWAS bodies.

He emphasized the imperative for Member States to interface with civil society and human rights organizations as they are the vessel for realizing the political, social and economic aspirations of the populations, which can also contribute to raising awareness of the merits of the reforms undertaken and decisions taken.

He therefor urged regional authorities to take and apply “effective and intelligent” measures against defaulting Member States in order to extract compliance as the unconstitutional changes were sometimes due to the desperation of some governments to cling on to power against exiting constitutional rules.

He noted that such unauthorized changes of power are supported by the population who see it as an opportunity to relieve them  of the tyranny of bad governments even though they are at the receiving end of sanctions.

The presenter made it clear that those situations were not due to the lack of willingness from the Community which has established architecture for free, fair and transparent elections in Member States.

He mentioned the 2001 ECOWAS Protocol/A/SP1/12/01, on Democracy  and Good Governance, the additional Protocol on the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Maintenance of Peace and Security of 1991 complemented at the continental level, by the  African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance of 30 January 2007  but which entered into force on 15 February 2012.

He said that these instruments explicitly establish the link between the objective of conflict prevention and resolution and the desire to establish political principles such as the Community’s opposition to any accession to power by unconstitutional means.

Dr Diané’s presentation was on the “Rule of law, Democracy and Good governance: the principles of constitutional convergence of ECOWAS in perspective.”