Amazu A. Asouzu, International Commercial Arbitration And African States: Practice, Participation And Institutional Development* – Vol. 12 No. 2

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Author: Emilia Onyema

Published: May 2002

Categories of Disputes
Commercial Disputes
New York Convention

Description: This is the first comprehensive text on international commercial arbitration in African states and is a welcome addition to a series of books focusing on regional arbitration. The book is divided into five distinct parts.

In Part 1, Asouzu introduces us to the peculiarities of international commercial practice in the African continent. One of these is the fact that African states, acting by themselves or through a state agency, are directly involved in commercial dealings with non-state parties, especially trans-national corporations. He addresses the predominantly espoused prejudices by commercial parties from the developed states and concludes that these were clearly prejudices and relics inherited from the colonial past of the continent. He then introduces commercial arbitration, highlighting its advantages and relative disadvantages when compared with the traditional form of dispute resolution, litigation, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms.

Part 2 deals with the creation, historical background and philosophy behind the work of the African-Asian Legal Consultative Committee (“AALCC”) and the development of the various Regional Centres for
International Commercial Arbitration in African and Asian States. These centres are currently in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia); Cairo (Egypt); Lagos (Nigeria); and Tehran (Iran) (which is proposed for oil-related disputes). Djibouti (Sudan) and Nairobi (Kenya) are also proposed. This part is the crux of the book and deals extensively with the structure and status of the centres in their host states and their independence from the AALCC. The aim of the centres is to provide an efficient, expeditious and relatively inexpensive dispute resolution mechanism, under their rules, modelled after the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, within the African-Asian region to prevent recourse to arbitration institutions outside the region and to save time and cost. The awards rendered in the centres can be enforced, subject to any declaration of reciprocity, under the New York Convention; and if in a non-New York Convention State, under its national laws for the enforcement of awards.

Part 3 deals with the issue of arbitrability under the arbitration laws of the major commercial states, while Part 4 is a detailed study of the involvement and experience of African states with ICSID, both the Washington Convention and arbitrations conducted under its auspices. Asouzu then analyses a number of important submissions and awards made involving African states, concluding in Part 5 with a call for the continued improvements to the arbitral atmosphere by African states and patronage by the international community.

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*Book Review