The Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) is a regional group of fifteen countries, established by the Treaty of Lagos signed in May 28, 1975. Its mission is to promote economic integration in “all fields of economic activity, particularly industry, transport, telecommunications, energy, agriculture, natural resources, commerce, monetary and financial questions, social and cultural matters “.
Considered one of the pillars of the African Economic Community, the organization was founded in order to achieve “collective self-sufficiency” for its member states by creating a single large trading bloc through an economic and trading union. It also serves as a peacekeeping force in the region. The organization operates officially in three co-equal languages—French, English, and Portuguese.
The Institutions of the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) are as follows:
The Community Parliament
The Community Court OF Justice
ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (EBID)
The fifteen (15) West African States that constitute ECOWAS
BENIN, BURKINA FASO, CABO VERDE, COTE D’IVOIRE, GAMBIA, GHANA, GUINEE, GUINEE BISSAU, LIBERIA, MALI, NIGER, NIGERIA, SENEGAL, SIERRA LEONE and TOGO.
The West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) is a group of six countries formed in 2000, within ECOWAS that plan to introduce a common currency, the Eco.
The six member states of WAMZ are Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Sierra Leone who founded the organization together in 2000 and Liberia who joined on 16 February 2010. Apart from Guinea, which is Francophone, they are all English speaking countries. Along with Mauritania, Guinea opted out of the CFA franc currency shared by all other former French colonies in West and Central Africa. The launch of the new currency is being developed by the West African Monetary Institute based in Accra, Ghana.
The Community Court of Justice
The ECOWAS also started a Community Court of Justice in 1991, the Court did not officially begin until the 5th November 1996. The jurisdiction of the court allows rulings on disputes between states over interpretations of the Revised Treaty. It also provides the ECOWAS Council with advisory opinions on legal issues. Like its companion courts the European Court of Human Rights and East African Court of Justice, it has jurisdiction to rule on fundamental human rights breaches.