ECOWAS Member States, host communities and investors should explore the dispute resolution mechanism of the ECOWAS Court in compliance with the ECOWAS Investment Code to enhance foreign direct investment in the Community.
ECOWAS Commission has been urged to take the necessary steps to trigger the sanctions mechanism in relation to Member States that fail to fulfil their Community obligations.
Conference participants noted that due ECOWAS to barriers/obstacles, posed by Member States, the community status of ECOWAS had not fully evolved to contain integration and supranationalism.
Member States are therefore urged to respect their undertakings in the Revised Treaty while Civil
Society Organizations (CSOs) should be sensitized on the need for a meaningful legal integration and through advocacy, economic integration agenda could be promoted.
It noted that the ECOWAS Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Establishment, was vital for the integration process of the Community.
The conference, however, noted that while there was no longer a requirement for Visa in the Community, the free movement of Community citizens under the Protocol was bedevilled by many obstacles and challenges and that the right of residence and establishment were still subject to discriminatory practices contrary to the provisions of the Protocol.
The conference called for a review of the ECOWAS current legal regime with the aim of ensuring the direct applicability of Community Texts in Member States and empowering Community citizens to invoke ECOWAS Community laws before the national courts of Member States.
It also urged Member States to establish a peer review mechanism like the African Union peer review mechanism, to monitor compliance of Member States with their Community obligations.
Member States and the ECOWAS Commission should take steps to harmonize the legal and judicial systems of the Community in accordance with the Revised Treaty and promote synergy between the ECOWAS Court and the national courts, it said.
The conference encouraged National courts of Member States to make referrals to the ECOWAS Court on questions of ECOWAS Community Law and to make references to the judgments of the ECOWAS Court in their jurisprudence.
In dealing with the challenge of lack of awareness about the Court and its work, the Court should engage in advocacy across the Community by collaborating with the civil society organisations and relevant stakeholders in Member States and make available to the national judiciaries and bar associations its Protocols, Law Reports, and Rules of Procedure.
Also, there should be frequent judicial dialogue between judges of the ECOWAS
Court and the municipal judges of Member States while Bar associations and the academia should meet frequently to exchange and share germane experiences and information on how to ensure the integration of Community laws into the domestic legal system.