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From its conception as a Tribunal to its current form as a Community Court, the ECOWAS Court ofJustice (ECCJ) stands as one of the most transformed international courts in terms of functions,structure, and processes
Established under Article 6 and 15 of the Revised Treaty of Economic Community of West African States, (“ECOWAS”); the ECCJ – the sole judicial organ of the community; initially had a very limited mandate to settle disputes arising out of the treaty as they related to states and institutions of the commission. However, the ECCJ has since evolved from an inter-governmental dispute settlement mechanism into a community court with an expanded mandate and jurisdiction including; an Advisory jurisdiction, contentious jurisdiction, and competence in matters of adjudication.
The Kiisi Trust was established in 2009 as part of a United States Federal Court Settlement. The settlement arose out of a lawsuit against the Royal Dutch Shell Company by survivors and family members of the people who were victims of human rights abuses arising out of Shell’s Nigerian Operations in Ogoniland in Rivers state, Nigeria. The Ogoni Plaintiffs included victims of torture and arbitrary detention as well as the survivors of husbands, brothers and fathers who were summarily executed for their role in protesting the cultural and environmental devastation Shell’s operations in Ogoniland.
The settlement is recognised as a victory for human rights and environmental justice in Nigeria and as a pivotal step towards holding corporations accountable for complicity in human rights violations, wherever they may be committed. At the time of the settlement, the Ogoni plaintiffs released a statement urging “our people to cherish and nourish the Kiisi Trust because it should stand as one legacy of the labours of our heroes past.” The word Kiisi means ''progress'' in Ogoni Language.
The Kiisi Trust Fund is managed as a donor advised fund (DAF) by TrustAfrica on behalf of the Kiisi Trust Fund trustees in Nigeria. The Trust Fund is dedicated to the benefit of the Ogoni people in Nigeria and will focus on initiatives for education, health, community development, educational endowments, skills development, agricultural development, women’s programmes, small enterprise support, and adult literacy. The Trust Fund will administer a community-based approach to its work to process, identify and assess potential grantees, develop grant dockets for approval, and conduct monitoring and evaluation on grantees.
TrustAfrica’s philanthropy work seeks to leverage new and traditional forms of African giving to advance economic, political and social justice. Cultivating indigenous philanthropic resources can support and strengthen African agency, shifting the balance of power back towards the continent and reclaiming African ownership of African agendas.
Africa is home to a deeply rooted culture of giving and mutual support. Building knowledge of these traditions is fundamental to enabling African narratives of giving to take an equal space alongside more formalized philanthropic mechanisms. To that end, we produced Giving to Help and Helping to Give: The Context and Politics of African Philanthropy, among other publications.
We have also produced research on philanthropic trends, for example, Africa’s Wealthy Give Back, a report published in concert with UBS on giving by high-net-worth Africans.
The book, Claiming Agency: Reflecting on TrustAfrica’s first decade, independent authors examine the work of TrustAfrica and its partners in an effort to better understand the kind of philanthropy that is not only based in Africa but that prioritises African agency.
TrustAfrica helped establish the African Philanthropy Network (APN) and continues to play a key role as an active member and supporter.
By 2015, lagging economic growth and the collapse of Africa’s major currencies had begun to undermine the ‘Africa rising’ narrative. Add to that the vast toll of the Ebola virus and resurgence of conflict in places like Mali, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Northern Cameroon and Burundi.
But 2015 brought positive news as well. While international experts forecast a renewal of election-related violence in Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, both presidential elections were conducted in a peaceful manner. And in neighboring Burkina Faso, citizen mobilization brought down strongman Blaise Compaore, ushering in a new era of democratic governance and popular participation.T
On 31 May 2015, TrustAfrica hosted a meeting on the margins of the Dakar Conference on “the Habré trial, Complementarity and Universal Jurisdiction”. Various key civil society actors working in the field of international criminal justice were convened to provide updates on Africa state interactions with the International Criminal Court (ICC) as well as to strategize around the African Union (AU)-ICC relationship.
Looking back, Looking ahead: African Philanthropy for Socio-Economic and Political Justice in the 21st Century
As we mark TrustAfrica’s 10 years anniversary we are also unveiling the organization’s new strategy for 2016 – 2020. Our goal under the new strategy is to advance political economic and social justice in Africa by tackling a number of priority thematic issues.
A lot has changed in the African political, economic and social context since 10 years ago. While the continent has made signifcant progress in reducing the overall level of violent conflict, the resurgence of violence in countries like Burundi, Central Africa Republic and South Sudan point to continuing fragility and the need to invest in building enduring peace. Terrorism and violent extremism have also emerged as a major challenge across the Sahel region, and especially in places like Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, and Libya. To address this challenge, TrustAfrica works to advance local accountabilty mechanisms to combat the culture of impunity which is at the root of cyclical violence. We are encouraged by the progress made at the continental level to advance post-conflict accountability mechanisms through the African Transitiional Justice Policy Framework and expanded mandate of the African Court on Humans and Peoples’ Rights. While tremendous progress has been made in reversing the scourge of HIV/AIDS across the continent, the devastation from the recent Ebola epidemic exposed the weakness of health systems and the continent’s poor capacity to respond to such emergencies.
On the economic development front, the “hopeless continent” narrative has been replaced with a focus on “Africa rising”. While significantly more optimistic, this narrative at times over simplifies Africa’s trajectory and overlooks the deep contradictions hidden beneath rising GDP. The fruits of economic growth have largely been concentrated in the hands of a few local and international corporate and political elites resulting in growing inequality. Tax dodging and illicit financial flows by multinational corporations have also limited benefits accruing to African economies. In many instances growth, especially from the extractive sector, has come at the expense of the environment with serious consequences for local communities.
These fundamental issues which found expression in the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the African Mining Vision, the African Union’s Transitional Justice Policy Framework as well as the Sustainable Development Goals will be a major focus for the next phase of TrustAfrica’s programming.
On Monday, May 30, 2016, the Extraordinary African Chambers in charge of the trial of former Chadian President, Hissène Habré delivered its verdict after 4 months of hearings and over 3 months deliberations.
On behalf of the Court, Presiding Judge Gustave Kam Gberdao found the former strongman of Ndjamena guilty of crimes against humanity and torture. In the verdict, the Court also convicted Hissène Habré of acts of sexual violence and rape. These charges were absent from the initial indictment. However, they were brought to light by civil parties and their lawyers during the hearings.
Hissène Habré was sentenced to life imprisonment. Subsequently, the Court granted 15 days to the accused counsels to appeal the decision.