New York Convention Roadshow in Cameroon
ICCA Hosts Its Second Bilingual Roadshow of 2021
Report written by Emilie de Haas
On 6 May 2021, ICCA held a bilingual New York Convention Roadshow specially conceived for the Cameroonian judiciary. Building on the success of its first 2021 online Roadshow earlier this year in Rwanda, ICCA hosted this Roadshow in webinar format, which drew in over 55 participants from the Ministry of Justice of Cameroon and various judiciaries in the country, including Yaoundé, Douala, Buea, Limbé, Kumba, Bamenda, Mbengwi, Foumban and Ambam. The event was co-hosted by ICCA, the African Arbitration Association (AfAA), the Association for the Promotion of Arbitration in Africa (APPA), and the ICC Africa Commission as part of a three-day seminar organized by the Ministry of Justice of Cameroon with the financial support of the Permanent Secretariat of OHADA.
Session moderator and AfAA Board Member Mr. Julius Nkafu of Great James Street Chambers (London) welcomed the participants and established the objectives of the webinar. Dr. Boubacar Sidiki Diarrah, Director of Legal Affairs, Communication and Documentation, OHADA, then offered a warm welcome to participants and speakers on behalf of the Permanent Secretary of OHADA, Prof. Sibidi Emmanuel Darankoum.
Judge Dominique Hascher of the Supreme Court of France and ICCA Advisory Board Member introduced the history and work of ICCA, with a special emphasis on its New York Convention Roadshow programme that launched in 2012 and has since provided over 30 colloquia with national court judges around the world on the application of the Convention. As the representative for AfAA, Mr. Julius Nkafu followed with a brief introduction to the organization as the first ever pan-African arbitration association and highlighted the capacity-building work AfAA has accomplished across the continent in the three years since its launch in 2018, including annual conferences, virtual training sessions and the creation of an African Arbitration Atlas. Ms. Diamana Diawara, Director of ICC Arbitration and ADR Africa, followed with words of welcome from the ICC Africa Commission, highlighting the Commission’s commitment to increasing the representation of Africa at the ICC Court of Arbitration and encouraging the use of international arbitration as means for dispute resolution on the African continent. Ms. Diawara then offered participants a brief overview of international arbitration touching on three points: the broad definition and characteristics of international arbitration; the legal framework of international arbitration; and the role of national courts in the arbitral process.
With this foundation established, Judge Dominique Hascher delved into the central topic of the day: the enforcement of foreign arbitration agreements and arbitral awards under the New York Convention. Speaking directly to judges, he encouraged them to participate in a “global movement” towards a harmonized interpretation of the New York Convention. Following this general overview of the New York Convention, Dr. Sylvie Bebohi Ebongo of HBE Avocats provided a succinct look at the regime for enforcement of awards in Cameroon within the broader OHADA framework and the Uniform Act on Arbitration.
The presentations were followed by a bilingual Q&A session moderated by Ms. Diawara, after which Justice Helen Galega, Secretary General of the Ministry of Justice of Cameroon, expressed her gratitude to the speakers for sharing their expertise, noting that “the future of justice in the area of commercial law is focused on arbitration”.
Participants were equipped with hard copies of ICCA’s Guide to the Interpretation of the 1958 New York Convention, now available online in 26 languages including English and French.
ICCA thanks AfAA, APAA and the ICC Africa Commission for jointly hosting the webinar. Special thanks are owed to Dr. Gaston Kenfack Douajni, President of the OHADA National Commission of Cameroon, for his key role in organizing this event and to Ndanga Kamau, President of the ICC Africa Commission, for facilitating this event.