ICCA Working Group on African Arbitral Practice
ICCA's Working Group on African Arbitral Practice was established at the ICCA Mauritius Congress in May 2016, with the goal of promoting the use and development of international arbitration in Africa. An important initial part of the work of the African Working Group was working towards the establishment of a new African Arbitration Association, which was launched in June 2018.
The Working Group supported publication of the Second Edition of “Arbitration in Africa: a Practitioner’s Guide” in September 2021, celebrating its launch at the postponed ICCA Congress in Edinburgh in September 2022. The text covers 49 jurisdictions, 5 regional overviews, a section on ISDS, and compendia of legislation, treaty accession and arbitral institutes. It is available on KluwerArbitration.com.
Members of the African Arbitral Practice Working Group
The Working Group held a series of consultative workshops which ultimately lead to the establishment of the African Arbitration Association (AfAA).
See below for reports and photos of these workshops.
ICCA's Working Group co-hosted a First Consultative Workshop on Cooperation Among African Arbitral Initiatives with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in Mauritius on 11 May 2016. Participants in the Consultative Workshops included African arbitration practitioners, representatives of Africa-based arbitral institutes, academics and judges. At that meeting, ICCA was mandated to facilitate the creation of an umbrella organization dedicated to the promotion and development of international arbitration and arbitrators in Africa.
Resolutions from the First Consultative Workshop on Cooperation Among African Arbitral Initiatives held on 11 May 2016
A. The growth in the use of international arbitration on the African continent;
B. The increasing number of capacity-building initiatives in this field conducted by a wide range of international governmental and non-governmental organizations, regional economic organizations, academic institutions and arbitral institutes;
C. The possibility and strong need to improve coordination among such initiatives and to enhance cooperation among the relevant entities;
D. The desirability of strengthening the legislative framework for arbitration and other means of dispute resolution in certain African jurisdictions in line with widely-accepted international standards, of promoting African jurisdictions as seats for international arbitration, as well as of promoting the use of Africa-based arbitral institutes;
E. The establishment of ICCA’s Working Group on African Arbitral Practice on 8 May 2016;
F. The positive momentum created by the ICCA Mauritius Congress held in Mauritius from 8 to 11 May 2016, bringing together a great number of African institutions and experts in the field;
We Participants to the Workshop, hereby Resolve as Follows:
A. Substantive areas of agreement
1. There is a need for, and concerted work must be done to provide, greater access to information about arbitration and the legislative framework available in Africa through various means including through the creation of a (preferably open-source) on-line resource, which would contain an arbitration events calendar and hyperlinks to active institutes and organizations, as well as each African State’s key legislative and judicial instruments pertaining to arbitration and alternative dispute resolution;
2. There is a need for, and concerted work must be done to support, the provision of technical assistance, awareness-raising and capacity-building activities to governments in order to assist them in their task of strengthening the legislative and judicial frameworks in the field of arbitration and other means of dispute resolution;
3. There is a need for, and concerted work must be done, to enhance awareness of existing capacity-building initiatives, to increase coordination in delivering technical assistance and capacity-building activities, and to enhance cooperation among international and regional organizations, arbitral institutes, academic institutions and professional associations throughout the African continent in that respect;
B. Process and means of implementation
4. The means by which the above areas of agreement will be implemented are as follows:
a. All participants will work towards the creation of an umbrella organization to further the development and promotion of African arbitral practice and African arbitral seats, to coordinate work in this area, and to implement the above areas of agreement;
b. ICCA’s Working Group on African Arbitral Practice is requested to facilitate the creation of this umbrella organization and establish its founding charter and working practices (through subcommittees if required or desirable);
c. A second Consultative Workshop will be organized no later than 2017 to evaluate progress and to discuss further steps.
A Second Consultative Workshop was held on 3 April 2017 in Cairo, Egypt, at which participants discussed cooperation in education and training, creation of online resources on African arbitral practice, and provision of technical assistance.
A Third Consultative Workshop was held on 25 October 2017 in Abuja, Nigeria, at which participants continued the discussion on cooperation in education and training, the creation of online resources on African arbitral practice, and provision of technical assistance. Participants also discussed and provided comments on the draft of a constitution for the umbrella body as prepared by a drafting committee composed of Funke Adekoya, Lise Bosman, Ndanga Kamau and Emilia Onyema.
A Fourth Consultative Workshop was held on Wednesday 2 May 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda, at which participants agreed the final mandate and scope of the future African Arbitration Association.
The Workshop was followed by a Technical Briefing on ISDS Reform. The lively panel featured a keynote address by ICCA President Gabrielle Kaufmann-Kohler; other speakers included Gaston Kenfack Douajni, Bayo Ojo and Emilia Onyema, and the panel was moderated by Ndanga Kamau.
Also on 2 May, a Young ICCA Skills Training Workshop was hosted by the Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC).
On 29 June 2018, the African Arbitration Association (AfAA) was launched in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. AfAA aims to promote African arbitration and African arbitrators, and to coordinate activities regarding capacity-building, technical assistance and the provision of on-line resources on the continent.
The launch of AfAA is the culmination of several years’ preparatory work by ICCA and other organizations and individuals. The vision of creating a pan-African arbitral association received a boost through the Working Group on African Arbitral Practice's Consultative Workshops, first initiated at the ICCA Congress in Mauritius in May 2016 and followed by Workshops in Cairo, Abuja and Kigali in 2017 and 2018. Strong support was provided by ICCA Governing Board members Judge Abdulqawi Yusuf (current President of the ICJ), prominent Lagos-based practitioner Olufunke Adekoya, and immediate past Director of the Cairo Arbitration Centre (CRCICA) Mohamed Abdel Raouf, as well as ICCA Executive Director Lise Bosman (all African nationals). ICCA is proud to have contributed to the formation of AfAA, and looks forward to cooperating with AfAA on projects of mutual interest.
For more details about AfAA and its office-holders, see www.africanarbitrationassociation.org.