Protocol relating to the Definition of Community Citizen
Done at: Cotonou
Date enacted: 1982-05-29
In force: 1984-07-10
Mindful of Article 5 of the Treaty of the Economic Community of West African States
establishing the Authority of Heads of State and Government, its composition and
Recalling that Paragraph 1 of Article 27 of the Treaty of the Economic Community
of West African States as amended stipulates that Community citizens are citizens of
Member States that satisfy the conditions to be defined in a protocol establishing a
code of citizenship for the Community;
Considering that Member States would still exercise the sovereign right in
conferring their citizenship on any person;
Considering that the requirements for the acquisition, the loss, the forfeiture, the
withdrawal and the re-integration within the Community are not necessarily the same in
all Member States;
Have agreed as follows:
On the acquisition of community citizenship
A citizen of the Community is:
Any person who is a national by descent of a Member State and is not a national
of any non-Member State of the Community.
Any person who is a national by the birth of any of the Member States either of
whose parents is a national by sub-paragraph (1) above provided that such a
person on attaining the age of 21 decides to take up the nationality of the Member
State. However, a person who had already attained the age of 21 before coming
into force of this protocol and who is of dual nationality shall renounce the nationality of that parent who is not a national by virtue of sub-paragraph (a)
Any adopted child who at birth is not a citizen of the Community or whose
nationality is unknown but who on attaining the age of 21 expressly takes up
nationality of his adoptive parent who is a community citizen.
An adopted person who has already attained maturity before the coming into
force of this Protocol and who is of dual nationality shall expressly renounce the
nationality of any State outside the Community.
Any child adopted by a citizen of the Community provided that the child has not
attained his maturity to decide on the nationality of his own choice.
A naturalised person of a Member State who has beforehand made a formal
and satisfies the following conditions:
had renounced the nationality of any State outside the Community and such
a renunciation is explicitly supported by an act of renunciation duly
authenticated by the appropriate authorities of the country or countries
whose nationality or nationalities he formerly enjoyed, and
had effectively resided permanently in a Member State for a continuous
period of fifteen years preceding his application for Community citizenship.
Such residence shall mean a permanent establishment of abode on the
territory of a Member State without any subsequent transfer to any State
outside the Community.
The ECOWAS Council of Ministers or any organ of the Community invested of
such power at the request of a Member State may reduce this period of fifteen
years for the benefit of a person because of exceptional services that such a
person had rendered to the Community or because of any other special
However, a naturalised person of any Member State may not be granted such
status of Community citizenship if by granting such status the fundamental
interests of one or more Member States shall be jeopardised.
Any child who is not a Community citizen at birth or whose nationality is
unknown, adopted by a naturalised citizen of the Community and who, at the
age of 21 years, expressly takes up the nationality of his adopted parent.
However, such adopted child shall enjoy this status only after fifteen (15) years
of permanent and continuous residence in the same Member State.
A person adopted by a naturalised citizen of the Community and having already
attained the age of 21 years before the entry into force of the present Protocol
and who is of dual nationality, who expressly renounces the nationality of any
other State outside the Community.
However, he shall only enjoy the status of the Community citizenship only after
fifteen (15) years of permanent and continuous residence in the same Member
State. Any child born of naturalised parents of a Member State who has acquired
the citizenship of the Community in accordance with the provisions of Paragraph
However, in order to become eligible for Community citizenship, the child shall before
attaining the age of 21, expressly renounce the nationality of any non-Member State of
the Community which he may posses.
Loss, forfeiture and withdrawal of Community citizenship
Any person may lose citizenship for the following reasons:
permanent settlement in a State outside the Community;
voluntary acquisition of the nationality of a State outside the Community;
de facto acquisition of the nationality of a State outside the Communit ;
loss of one's nationality of country of origin;
on his express request.
Any naturalised person who has acquired the status of Community citizen may
forfeit this citizenship for the following reasons:
if he involves in activities incompatible with the status of Community citizen, and or
prejudicial to the fundamental interests of one or more Member States of the
if he has been sentenced in any State of the Community for an act considered to be
a crime and recognised as such within the Community.
The situation is the same when such a crime is committed against a citizen of the
Community citizenship may be withdrawn from a person for the following reasons:
when it becomes evident, after the acquisition of the citizenship, that the
person concerned did not satisfy the requisite conditions for the acquisition of
if Community citizenship was obtained though lies or fraud.
Re-integration of Community Citizenship is granted after enquiry.
Pending the installation of a judicial body that will be responsible for issues relating to
requests for acquisition, loss, forfeiture, withdrawal of Community citizenship, the
Council of Ministers is vested with the powers to examine such questions subject to
appeal before the Authority.
Deposit and entry into force
This additional Protocol shall enter into force provisionally upon signature by
Heads of State and Government of Member States and definitively upon
ratification by at least seven signatory States in accordance with the
constitutional procedures applicable for each signatory State.
This additional Protocol and all instruments of ratification shall be deposited
with the Executive Secretariat which shall transmit certified true copies of this
additional Protocol to all Member States and notify them of the dates of deposit
of the instruments of ratification and shall register this additional Protocol with
the Organisation of African Unity, the United Nations and such Organisations as
the Council shall determine.
The additional Protocol shall be annexed to and shall form an integral part of
In faith whereof, We, the Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States, have signed this Additional Protocol.
Done at Cotonou, the 29th day of May, 1982. In one single original in the English and French languages, both texts being equally authentic