Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Laws (LLM)

First Advisor

Obiora C. Okafor


The thesis has two objectives. The first (and central) objective is to examine the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States, or ECOWAS Court (a sub-regional international court in West Africa), and its role within the West African region, especially how the Court has served as a resource for the Activist Forces that operate in the sub-region, in their pursuit of Environmental and Socioeconomic Justice in Nigeria. The second goal of this thesis, which is ancillary to the first, is to investigate the Courts jurisprudence in three landmark cases: SERAP v. Nigeria & Anor (2010); SERAP v. Nigeria & 8 Ors (2012); and SERAP & 10 Ors v. Nigeria & 4 Ors (2014). The purpose of these case studies is to advance the first thesis objective by analyzing how the ECOWAS Court has advanced the justiciability of environmental and socioeconomic rights despite domestic limitations. This is significant for poor and marginalized populations e.g. those in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria where natural resource extraction has for decades been largely unfavorable to the wellbeing and development of the people. This thesis contributes to the legal literature on human rights systems in Africa by analyzing how the norms, processes and creative spaces made available by the ECOWAS Court has contributed to the struggles waged by local activist forces in Nigeria. In the process of developing this analysis, it deploys theories propounded by several quasi-constructivists, particularly Okafors theory of correspondence, a unique model for estimating the extent of the internalization of human rights norms without abandoning the regular compliance model for assessing the fulfillment by states of their international human rights law obligations.


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