A Judge of the ECOWAS Court, Justice Friday Chijioke Nwoke has urged the UN to explore the feasibility of annually peer reviewing the enforcement of the decisions of regional human rights Courts by States as a mechanism for strengthening the support of the international community for such courts and improving their effectiveness in holding States accountable for human rights violations.

Delivering a paper at a UN human rights regional seminar in Cairo on Tuesday, 5th December 2017, Justice Nwoke said that in the absence of a regional enforcement mechanism, such a peer review mechanism would spur Member States to enforce the decisions of regional courts as important instruments for the promotion of peace, security, accountability and transparency in governance.

He told participants at the one day seminar which was on the theme Development of Regional Mechanisms and Systems for Human Rights, that while the plethora of regional mechanisms in the world have contributed to improving respect for human rights, their efficacy, particularly in nascent democracies, could only be assured when there is a consciousness among States of international interest in their compliance.

Justice Nwoke, who is a professor of International Law, said that the experience of the ECOWAS Court with the enforcement of its decisions has demonstrated the inadequacy of the existing regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights and the need for supplementary measures to avoid regional courts from being consigned into irrelevance.

While acknowledging the strides made by the ECOWAS Court towards improving the level of enforcement of its decisions, the judge said that there has to be a recognition of its value as a partner in the deepening of democracy, the elimination of arbitrariness and the enthronement of accountability.

The judge, a former Vice President of the seven-member Court, said that there has been an exponential increase in the number of cases handled by the Court since the 2005 expansion of its mandate with the addition of a human rights jurisdiction.

Apart from the ECOWAS Court, the other speakers at the seminar were drawn from the European Court for Human Rights, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Inter-American Commission and Court of Human rights as well as the African Commission and Court for Human Rights.

Also represented are the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission for Human Rights, the Independent Permanent Commission for Human Rights and the Arab Human Rights Committee, which hosted the seminar.

Participants will discuss the value of regional mechanisms, explore the evolution of regional mechanisms, examine their similarities and exchange best practices for improving the efficacy of regional mechanism in the protection and promotion of human rights. Also in attendance at the seminar was Mrs Franca Ofor, a Principal Legal officer of the Court.