An expert in constitutional, comparative and   international law from the Republic of Ghana, Professor Ernest Abotsi, will deliver the keynote address at the 2024 international conference of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, which will be opened on Monday, 13th May 2024 in Freetown by President Julius Maada Bio.

Professor Abotsi, a seasoned lawyer, who is the Dean of Law at Ghana’s University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA), will speak on the theme of the conference Enhancing the role, relevance and effectiveness of the ECOWAS Court of Justice through the strengthening of synergies between the Court and National stakeholders.

Professor Abotsi, whose vast field of practice includes corporate and commercial, has significant publications to his credit in leading peer-review journals in fields such as comparative and constitutional law, development law, human rights international law and  customary law reform. He also has rich experience in criminal justice administration especially in the areas of police capacity building and legal sector reform projects.

About 250 participants from the academia, the judiciary, including the Chief Justices of Member State, lawyers, students and officials from the national units of ECOWAS Member States, are attending the conference, an annual event of the Court.

The President of the Court, Justice Edward Amoako Asante said that after two decades of its operations, the conference will enable the participants to comprehensively address the “unmet expectations regarding the role, relevance and effectiveness of the Court.”

These, he said, relate to the ‘non appointment by some Member States of their competent national authorities to facilitate the enforcement of the decisions of the Court, the low level of compliance with these decisions as well as the non-ratification and domestication of the extant texts of the Court.

Justice Asante also alluded to other issues such as the concerns by some Member States about what they consider to be ‘an overly expansive and liberal access to the for human rights cases which disregards the exhaustion of local remedies or potential conflicts with the jurisdictions of national courts.’’

The theme of the 2024 conference, the President explained, is designed to generate constructive discussions around the strengths and weaknesses of the Court’s relationship with various national stakeholders so as to propose practical solutions to strengthen the relationships between the court and these stakeholders for the benefit of the citizens.

The theme of the conference will be explored under five sub themes during the four day conference, the first to be hosted in Sierra Leone.

The conference is a flagship activity of the Court which provides a platform for participants, which include judges from national and regional courts, legal scholars, members of bar associations and other stakeholders, to explore important legal themes with bearing on the Community and its integration project.