A professor of Human Rights Law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in the United States, Chidi Odinkalu, will deliver the keynote address at the 2023 international conference of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, which opens on Monday, 22nd May 2023 in Banjul, The Gambia.

The lawyer, human rights activist and writer will speak on Zero tolerance for
unconstitutional change in government in West Africa: democracy and rule of law
for sustainable development at the opening of the four day conference which is on the theme: ECOWAS’ zero tolerance for unconstitutional change of government.

Some 24 papers will be delivered during the conference under seven sub themes which will examine the region’s constitutional convergence principles, the policy on unconstitutional change of government and the role of the military in a democracy.

“This is an opportunity for academics, jurists and lawyers to discuss this subject against the background of the worrisome democratic reversals in Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mali following the military takeover in those countries,” the President of the Court, Justice Edward Asante said of the conference.

The president described the conference as ‘one of the flagship programs of the Court
which enables it to provide a platform to discuss a contemporary issue in the
Community and proffer suggestions that could help resolve the identified challenge.
Justice Asante added: “We are concerned of the risk posed to the region’s fragile
democracy by the unfortunate development and believe we all need to work together to address this drift.”

Presenters will also discuss the various dimensions of the ECOWAS security
architecture as well as human rights as a factor for democracy, peace and security
including the role of Member States to respect, protect and fulfil their human rights obligations as well as the role of elections as a trigger for conflicts.

The other presentations will examine the role of the national and the ECOWAS Courts in upholding human rights, rule of law and constitutional democracy; the enabling legal environment for ECOWAS integration with community law in perspective and undertake an appraisal of the judgment enforcement mechanism of the ECOWAS Court.

The conference, which will be opened by President Adama Barrow, will be attended by Chief Justices of the Supreme Courts of Member States, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Attorney Generals and Ministers of Justice of Member States, Presidents of regional courts, Presidents of the Bar Associations of Member States, international
developments partners and Heads of ECOWAS National Units of Member States.

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