A new opportunity for international human rights litigation in West Africa was presented in 2005 when the Economic Community of West African States adopted a
protocol to empower its judicial organ, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice, to determine cases of human rights violation that occur in ECOWAS member states.
Since then, several human rights claims have been brought before the court.
However, critical questions concerning the legality of the new mandate and the suitability of the court to exercise a human rights jurisdiction have lingered. Beginning with an inquiry into the foundation within ECOWAS for the exercise of a human rights jurisdiction, this article analyses the legitimacy of the human rights mandate of the ECOWAS court and interrogates crucial issues relevant to the effectiveness of the mandate. The article suggests ways to enhance execution of the mandate and concludes with a call for careful judicial navigation in the exercise of the court’s expanded jurisdiction.