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Djibouti Chamber and IGAD announce task force to establish arbitration center

On February 2015, the General Assembly of the IGAD Business Forum voted, by unanimous resolution, for the establishment of an International Arbitration and Mediation Centre (the “Centre”). The project for the establishment of the Centre is spearheaded by the Djibouti Chamber of Commerce (“CCD”), and supported by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (“IGAD”) and its respective member states. Established in 1986, IGAD is headquartered in Djibouti, and is comprised of 8 member states: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. The CCD is one of the oldest Chambers in Africa and was established in 1907 with strong links globally.

Earlier this year, both CCD and IGAD, with the assistance of Ms. Maryan Hassan (Head of Arbitration and ADR Division and Chief Legal Advisor, at the Office of the Prime Minister, Federal Government of Somalia) set out to create an International Legal Task force (the “Task force”) consisting of established foreign practitioners as well as Djiboutian lawyers and legal experts. Mr. Baiju Vasani. (Jones Day) and Mr. Benoit Le Bars (Lazareff Le Bars) lead the Task force as Co-Heads.

The Task force is comprised of many of the world’s leading practitioners and academics from both the private and public realms. “The Legal Task force is diverse in terms of age, gender, nationality, region, legal training, seniority, and experience. We hope that through such an eclectic mix of great minds we can create something that is truly useable for all. The Legal Task force was established to bring together a select team that could create an African arbitration centre that will be popular, fit for purpose and enduring,” Vasani notes.

Known for its strategic geography – lying on the Red Sea between Asia and Africa – Djibouti has become an important trade hub for both continents. “In the history of Eastern Africa, Djibouti has always been a crucial place. Given the current growth of international trade activities with neighboring countries and in the region, the initiative taken by the Government of Djibouti, the Chamber of Commerce and IGAD to establish an international arbitration center dedicated to regional and international actors in the area is visionary,” Le Bars heralds.

The Task force is mindful of the recent criticism that mushrooming African arbitral centres have attracted of late – with too much focus on following foreign templates and disregard for the interests of the local population and context – and aims to address these. In Vasani’s words, “Too many arbitration centres have been created in the last decade by simply copying a format or structure that has been successful elsewhere; this fails to take into account the preferences of the likely users of the centre, how it can properly serve the region in which it is based, and that what works in one part of the world might not work in another. This centre will be bespoke; it will be tailored to service the community around which it is based with particular reference to the port of Djibouti”.

The Centre also aims to be accessible for regional users in Africa, and will be a credible alternative to international arbitral centres in Europe and Asia. Users of arbitration in IGAD member states and the greater region can choose to arbitrate at the Centre, rather than at far flung international arbitral centres which would involve costly international long-haul travel and potentially the use of counsel in foreign jurisdictions. “Increasingly, companies need international services close to their business premises and trained with international practices. Such a project can only bear the economic dynamics of the region and facilitate the finalization of arbitration laws in neighboring countries,” Le Bars echoes.

The Centre will be housed at the Headquarters of the CCD.

Head of Legal Task Force

Mr. Baiju Vasani, Partner, Jones Day, London/Washington DC (Co-Head)

Mr. BenoÎt Le Bars, Managing Partner, Lazareff Le Bars, Paris (Co-Head)

Legal Task Force

Ms. Rashida Abdulai, Senior Associate, Hogan Lovells, London

Mr. Mark Beckett, Head, International Arbitration Practice, Chadbourne and Parke LLP

Prof. George Bermann, Columbia Law School, New York

Mr. Alex Bevan, Partner, International Arbitration Practice, Shearman & Sterling

Dr. Gordon Blanke, Partner, DWF, Dubai

Mr. Gary Born, Chair, International Arbitration Practice, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, London/Singapore

Mr. George Burn, Partner, Vinson & Elkins, London

Mr. Roderick Cordara QC, Barrister & Arbitrator, Essex Court Chambers, London/Sydney/Singapore

Ms. Dalal Al-Houti, Al Tamimi & Co, Dubai

Mr. Jean-Yves Gontier, Counsel, Gontier-Bernard, Paris

Prof. Emmanuel Gaillard, Chair, International Arbitration Practice, Shearman & Sterling

Prof. Bernard Hanotiau, Partner, Hanotiau & van den Berg, Brussels

Ms. Maryan Hassan, Head of Arbitration, Office of the Prime Minister, Federal Government of Somalia

Ms. Anne K. Hoffmann, Counsel, Dubai

Ms. Dalal Al-Houti, Al Tamimi & Co, Dubai

Ms. Elizabeth W. Karanja, Director, J Miles & Co, Nairobi

Mr. Tsegaye Laurendeau, Senior Associate, International Arbitration Practice, Shearman & Sterling

Mr. Ziad Obeid, Obeid Law Firm, Beirut

Mr. Thomas R. Snider, Shareholder, Greenberg Traurig, Washington DC

Ms. Kay Weinberg, Associate, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, London

Mr. Guled Yusuf, Associate, Allen & Overy, London

Legal Institution Specialists

Mr. Duncan Bagshaw, Senior Associate, Stephenson Harwood, London

Mr. Stuart Kerr, Counsel, Jones Day, DC

Mr. Jonathan Lim, Associate, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, London/Singapore

Ms. Leyou Tameru (also, Task Force Press Officer), Managing Director, I-Arb Africa, Addis Ababa

Academic Advisers

Mr. Chrispas Nyombi, University of Bedfordshire, School of Law, London

Mr. Ike Ehribe, SOAS, University of London, London

Task Force Assistants

Ms. Ilham Kabbouri, Taylor Wessing, Dubai/Brussels (Head Assistant)

Ms. Vanessa Fullerton, Djibouti Oxford Law and Policy Fellow, Djibouti

Mr. Zain Jinnah, Incoming Associate, White & Case, Washington DC

Hadrian Tulk, DHL MENAT. Dubai

Source: iarbafrica, Djibouti Chamber of Commerce

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