ECOWAS Banjul Conference Discusses Regional Security, Human Rights, Credible Elections

By Paul Ejime

The International Conference of the ECOWAS Community Court on Zero Tolerance for unconstitutional change of governments in West Africa continued in Banjul the Gambia capital on Tuesday with presentations on several sub-themes including the ECOWAS Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peace Keeping and Security.

Dr Emmanuel Udo Ifeadi, a former deputy Comptroller, Nigerian Immigration Service; Dr Tony Elumelu, Acting Director Private Sector, ECOWAS; and Prof. Agoka Mawuli, a constitutional law expert gave insights on the ECOWAS Peace and security architecture, dispute resolution; non-involvement of the ECOWAS Court of Justice; Sanctions Regime; desirability of the Community intervening to restore constitutional order and how insecurity and political instability trigger migration.

Prof Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and an expert of Public Law, Hon. Justice Osei-Hwere, a Jude of the High Court of Ghana and Barr Taal, President of the Gambian Bar Association made presentations on Human rights as a factor for democracy, peace, and security: duty of ECOWAS member States to respect, protect and fulfil human rights.

Under this sub-theme, the presenters highlighted the protection of human rights as a core and cardinal value of the Community; ECOWAS human rights Mechanism; duty of member States to respect, protect and fulfil human rights and holding them accountable for their Treaty Obligations and human rights protection as a factor for democracy, peace, and security.

Paul Ejime, a Communications and Media Specialist and Global Affairs analyst; Prof Amos Enabulele of the University of Benin city; Hon Justice Diane Hassane of the Ivorian Human Rights Council and Ms Amie Bensouda of the Gambia handled the sub-theme on Lack of Free, Fair and Transparent Elections as a key source of conflict: Holding member States accountable for their Treaty Obligations and the Sanctions Regime.

The presentations covered Parameters for Free, Fair and Transparent Elections under the Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance; Elections Monitoring and ECOWAS Assistance to Member States; Factors responsible for the undermining of Free, Fair and Transparent Elections; Factors Responsible for the subversion of Constitutional Democratic Order; How to Hold Member States accountable for their Treaty Obligations and Sanctions Regime for Unconstitutional Change of Government.

The presenters noted that an elections as multi-stakeholder enterprise is a process that requires all actors – the government, electoral umpire, security agencies, the media, civil society, the judiciary, the electorate, and development partners to play their parts effectively.

They urged ECOWAS member States to implement the relevant texts related to the conduct of credible elections, while the leaders should muster the political will to call out their peers who engage in undemocratic practices such as alteration of constitution and electoral laws for tenure elongation.

This will imbue them with the moral authority to take principled stance as a bulwark against political adventurers, soldiers or mercenaries who try to subvert the constitutional order.

The presenters also recommended that ECOWAS should guard against insufficiencies and abuse of electoral processes; undemocratic conducts, activities, or dispositions, fulfil their Treaty Obligations and apply sanctions against any violations of the regional protocols with consistency and impartiality.

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