The Economic Community of West African States, also known as ECOWAS, is a regional economic union of fifteen West African countries, also members of the WACAP network (Benin , Burkina Faso , Cabo Verde , Cote d'Ivoire , The Gambia, Ghana , Guinea , Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali , Mauritania , Niger , Nigeria , Senegal , Sierra Leone and Togo).
The union was established on 28 May 1975, with the signing of the Treaty of Lagos, to promote economic integration across the region. ECOWAS also serves as a peacekeeping force in the region, with member states occasionally sending joint military forces to intervene in the bloc's member countries at times of political instability and unrest.
ECOWAS includes two sub-regional blocs:
- The West African Economic and Monetary Union (also known by its French-language acronym UEMOA) is an organization of eight, mainly French-speaking, states within the ECOWAS which share a customs union and currency union. The currency they all use is the CFA franc, which is pegged to the euro.
- The West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ), established in 2000, comprises six mainly English-speaking countries within ECOWAS which plan to work towards adopting their own common currency, the eco.
ECOWAS operates in three co-official languages—French, English, and Portuguese.
The WACAP network collaborated with two ECOWAS institutions:
- The ECOWAS Commission, which is the main engine room of all ECOWAS programmes, projects and activities.
- The Community Court of Justice, which mandate is to ensure the observance of law and of the principles of equity and in the interpretation and application of the provisions of the Revised Treaty and all other subsidiary legal instruments adopted by Community. The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Community Court of Justice has accepted the submission of individual complaints for human rights violations since 2005.