New York Convention Roadshow in Rwanda
ICCA Hosts Its First Roadshow of 2021
Report written by Emilie de Haas
On 26 March 2021, ICCA held it first bilingual New York Convention Roadshow specially conceived for the Rwandan judiciary. Building on the success of its first online Roadshow last year in Ghana, ICCA hosted this Roadshow in webinar format, which drew in over 100 participants from the Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Inspector of Courts, Commercial High Court, Commercial Tribunal and High Court of Kigali. The event was co-hosted by ICCA, the African Arbitration Association (AfAA), the ICC Africa Commission, in close cooperation with the Kigali International Arbitration Centre (KIAC).
Mr. Victor Mugabe, Secretary General of KIAC and session moderator, welcomed the participants and introduced the speakers. Dr. Faustin Ntezilyayo, the Honourable Chief Justice of Rwanda then delivered opening remarks, welcoming the initiative and noting its convenient timing as Rwanda “has turned towards the promotion of alternative dispute resolution in general, and arbitration in particular”.
ICCA Executive Director and Board Member of AfAA Lise Bosman introduced the history and work of ICCA, with a special emphasis on its “New York Convention Programme” that launched in 2012 and has since hosted over 30 colloquia with national court judges all over the world on the application of the Convention. Speaking about AfAA, the first ever pan-African arbitration association, Lise highlighted the capacity-building work it has accomplished across the continent in the three years since its launch in 2018. Ms. Diamana Diawara, Director of ICC Arbitration and ADR Africa, followed with words of welcome from the ICC Africa Commission, noting that the ICC International Court of Arbitration maintains a strong collaboration with national courts in terms of capacity building for judges called upon to enforce ICC arbitral awards. She also highlighted the Commission’s commitment to increasing the number of African practitioners involved in ICC cases. Professor Emilia Onyema of SOAS University of London and Board Member of AfAA then offered participants an overview of international arbitration. She centred her intervention around two key questions: (1) What is arbitration and where does it fit within each legal system?; and (2) What is the role of national courts in arbitration?
Building on this foundation, Dr. Mohamed Abdel Raouf, Head of the International Arbitration Group at Abdel Raouf Law Firm, provided succinct know-how on the correct interpretation and application of the New York Convention. He stressed the “pivotal role” of judges in making any country a credible seat and place of international arbitration, before giving to floor to Mr. Thierry Ngoga, Managing Partner at Legal Line Partners, and Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, Former President of the East African Court of Justice, to address participants on the legal framework for the enforcement of agreements and awards in Rwanda. Citing Rwandan case law, Dr. Ugirashebuja applauded the speed and efficiency with which Rwandan courts have enforced awards thus far and encouraged the judiciary to uphold its pro-arbitration stance.
The presentations were followed by a bilingual Q&A session moderated by Ms. Diawara, after which the Chief Justice concluded by thanking the speakers for sharing their expertise and ensuring that the Rwandan judiciary would support any approach that will strengthen arbitration practice in Rwanda.
Participants were equipped with hard copies of ICCA’s Guide to the Interpretation of the 1958 New York Convention, now available in 25 languages including English and French. They also received supplementary bilingual materials in preparation for the session. Finally, while presentations were given in English, some speakers made use of screen sharing functions to display bilingual content for the participants to follow in both languages.
ICCA thanks AfAA, the ICC Africa Commission and KIAC for co-hosting the webinar. Special thanks are owed to Mr. Mugabe for masterfully facilitating this collaboration.