Accra, Nov 24, GNA - Chief Justice Mr George Kingsley Acquah on Thursday underscored the need for member-states of ECOWAS to co-operate in judicial and legal matters, with a view to harmonising their judicial and legal systems, and fostering unity in an orderly manner. He conceded, however, that the harmonisation process was certainly a formidable task, in the light of "our varying colonial history, experiences and the heterogeneous nature of our societies".
Mr Justice Acquah made the call at the formal opening of the first ever Conference of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) Chief Justices, and ECOWAS Court of Justice in Accra.
The two-day conference, funded by the Government of Ghana, is being attended by Chief Justices of member-states of the community, Justices of the ECOWAS Court of Justice, officials from the ECOWAS Secretariat, the World Bank, the Southern African Development Commission and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.
It has: "The Judiciary as a Partner in the Regional Integration Process" as its theme.
There would be presentations on: "The ECOWAS Court of Justice: Its Development, Structure and Jurisdiction"; "The ECOWAS Court of Justice: Enforcement of its Decisions and Challenges Facing the Court"; "The Role of the Judiciary in Nation-Building"; "The Role of the Judiciary in Sub-regional Integration"; and "The Place of the Conference Objectives in the Overall ECOWAS Treaty Framework."
By the end of deliberations, participants would have examined and discussed the importance and the role of the Judiciary in facilitating peace, stability and development in their respective countries and the Sub-Region as a whole.
Mr Justice Acquah, initiator of the meeting, stated that through the development of appropriate institutional structures and framework within the ECOWAS set-up, member-states would be able to surmount their numerous political and socio-economic problems.
He was of the view that when the Conference became a permanent and regular feature, participants would have the capacity to discuss issues leading to the formulation of policies not to serve as a guide to only the judiciaries of member-states of ECOWAS, but also the ECOWAS Court of Justice.
On the Rule of Law, the Chief Justice pointed out that it should undoubtedly be the foundation of peace and economic well-being of the people in the Sub-Region.
Furthermore, he said, the concept should be the bedrock of all mechanisms for resolving all disputes and conflicts in West Africa. To this end, Mr Justice Acquah urged the conference participants to play their part in securing for their people, peace and security, based on the rule of law and an effective and efficient justice system. "This is our responsibility; for an effective justice system is critical for the economic and social benefit of our respective countries, as political maturity and social progress are inextricably linked to a strong judicial system." 24 Nov. 05