The ECOWAS Court and the Swedish-based Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law have expressed their willingness to collaborate in pursuing activities that will improve access to justice, particularly in strengthening the contribution of the Court to deepening the culture of respect for human rights in West Africa.

The commitment was made on Tuesday, 13th February 2017 during a working visit of the Head of the Nairobi office of the Institute, Mr Josh Ounsted, to the Court where he held discussions with senior officials of the regional court led by its President, Honorable Justice Jérôme Traoré.

The framework for the envisioned collaboration will be defined in a forthcoming Memorandum of Understanding. Areas of common interest include capacity building programmes, exchange of documents and publications that will further the realisation of the mandates and initiatives of both organisations, and inclusion of Community Law and jurisprudence into the curricula of Law Faculties and Judicial training Centres within the ECOWAS sub-region.

The MOU will also cover collaboration in research on human rights protection in the region as part of a process of sustained dialogue and activities designed to increase awareness and the visibility of the Court among the citizens and stakeholders.

In remarks before the session, the President said the collaboration with the Institute is the latest in the ongoing effort by the Court to leverage the capacity of such organisations to improve its effectiveness in delivering on its four-fold mandate, particularly its human rights mandate that has become the most visible.

He later presented documents on the Court, including three editions of its Law Reports, Rules of the Court and its basic texts such as the 1991 and the 2005 Supplementary Protocols, to the visitor.

In presenting an overview of the Court, the Chief Registrar, Mr Tony Anene-Maidoh had said that 291 cases had been lodged with the Court since its inception and over 250 of them relate to human rights. The Court has also rendered over 270 decisions, he said, adding that the distinguishing feature of the Court was that litigants were not required to exhaust local remedies before approaching the Court for alleged human rights violations.

In his remarks, Mr Ounsted explained that the Institute has the primary mission of undertaking initiatives that contribute to increasing respect for human rights through capacity building, supporting outreach programmes and networking.

He said that the institute, named after Raoul Gustaf Wallenberg, a Swedish Architect, businessman, diplomat and humanitarian, has been working with the East African Court in furtherance of its mandate as an independent donor funded organisation involved in the promotion of human rights and humanitarian law.

Also in attendance at the session were, among others, Honorable Justices Micah Wilkins Wright (Vice President), Yaya Boiro, Chijioke Nwoke and Alioune Sall.