The President of the 49th session of the United Nations Convention on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), Dr Gaston Kenfack Djouajni will deliver the keynote address during the Monday, 9th October 2017 opening ceremony of the 2017/2018 legal year of the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice.

UNICITRAL is the UN’s core legal body in the field of international trade law with a universal membership of specialists working for more than 40 years towards global commercial law reform.

Dr Djouajni, who is Cameroonian and a leading authority in international commercial arbitration, will speak on Current trends in international and regional commercial arbitration at the ceremony, marking the transition to another legal year for the Court, the principal legal organ of the 15-member Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

The theme was selected in recognition of the value of Arbitration as an Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanism within the community’s judicial framework and a reassurance to foreign investors of the existence of an arbitration forum for dispute resolution.

A  Professor of Business and Arbitration Law with a rich background in the academia, the International Criminal Court and Cameroun’s judiciary, Dr Djouajni is the President of the Cameroun-based Association for the Promotion of Arbitration in Africa, a non-profit organisation which supports the development of arbitration in Africa.

The ceremony will be declared open by the President of the Court, Honorable Justice Jerome Traore while goodwill messages are expected from the Nigerian Bar Association, the coordinator of ECOWAS Ambassadors, the Coordinator of the UN system, the speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament and the President of the ECOWAS Commission.

Similar messages are also expected from the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, the Nigerian Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.

The Court has an interim arbitral mandate under Article 16 of the 1993 ECOWAS Revised Treaty pending the establishment of the Community’s Arbitration Tribunal envisaged under the Article. Moreover, Article 9 (5) of Protocol A/SP.1/01/05 on the Court provides that pending the establishment of the envisaged Arbitration Tribunal, the Court shall have power to act as Arbitrator for the purpose of Article 16 of the Treaty.

However, the Court’s exercise of this mandate is awaiting the approval of the Rules of Arbitration proposed by the Court to ECOWAS Council of Ministers.