The African Union Commission on International Law and the Proposed African Institute of International Law: Where do we go from here?

Olabisi AkinkugbeAuthor: Olabisi Delebayo Akinkugbe
PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa, Canada

The author critically reflects on the African Union Commission on International Law (AUCIL) statute of 2009 particularly in relation to its mandate to advance the teaching and development of international law in Africa; examines its relationship with proposed African Union Institute of International Law (AIIL) in Arusha, Tanzania; and calls for an amendment of the AUCIL Statute in order to enhance the achievement of its goals and clarification of some vague areas.

Historically, the discourse in relation to the role of Africa in the development of international law, especially as a contributor or shaper, can be argued was popularised by the works of the late Taslim Olawale Elias who has been criticised in turn by some scholars for his glorification of Africa. The view that Africa contributes and shapes the development of international law arguably inspires the provisions of Article 6(1) of the AUCIL Statute (Codification of International Law) which mandates the AUCIL to codify such aspects of the rules of international law where “there has been extensive State practice, precedent and doctrine in the African continent.” Following suggestions by African international law scholars such as Muna Ndulo for curriculum revisions to include directed teaching on various subjects in relation to Africa and international law, it is encouraging to see that the African Union (AU) has taken a practical step in broaching the question of partnership in the teaching and studying of international law as it concerns the AU with universities and international institutes in Africa under the auspices of the AUCIL. It is hoped that the current effort which has witnessed a worrisome delay in taking off after three years of the adoption of the AUCIL establishing statute is more than a mere rhetoric.

Read the rest of this entry »