29th November 2018

Summary of SOAS Arbitration Public Seminar of 29th November 2018

The second SOAS Arbitration Public Seminar for this academic year held on 29 th November 2018 at SOAS, University of London. It was organised by Dr Emilia Onyema and chaired by Martin Lau with approximately fifty people in attendance. We welcomed Judge Edward Torgbor, a Visiting Academic at Oxford University, Professor of Law (Stellenbosch University), a specialist international and chartered arbitrator and mediator based in Nairobi (Kenya), as our guest speaker. He examined and approached the question of the application and implementation of the New York Convention (NYC) in the 21st century through five points: The value of arbitration for solving disputes; the international commercial arbitration and its evolution in the global economy; the international conventions and their link with national legal systems; the impacts and importance of the New York Convention; the Enforcement of International Arbitral Awards in sampled African states.

In the context of his presentation, Judge Torgbor discussed the importance of the NYC as a legal instrument that recognises and enforces arbitral awards worldwide. By giving the origins of the convention as being related to previous treaties such as the Geneva Protocol of 1923 and the Geneva Convention of 1927, Judge Torgbor states the improvements introduced by the NYC. The interrelationships between the NYC and the Washington Convention (1965) and the UNCITRAL Model Law (1985) being acknowledged, Judge Torgbor pursues his intervention. The substantive provisions of the NYC, the interaction of the NYC with the Rule of Law having been assessed, Judge Torgbor emphasizes its importance, role and relevance in contemporary arbitration practice. In order to assess these aspects, examples from African jurisdictions were given. Judge Torgbor concluded by drawing attention to the advantageous position of the rich countries and their investor agencies and nationals not only to the direct access and exploitation of the natural and other resources of developing countries but also to their assets located in those powerful states, and the need for developing states to ensure that the impact of the international legal instruments to which they accede is not detrimental to their developing agendas.

Judge Torgbor presentation was very well received judging by the quality of the Questions and Answers, animated discussions that followed and discussions during the drinks reception. The drinks reception was kindly sponsored by Dr Emilia Onyema, and organised by Ms Ancuta Faur and Ms Shu Cean Chua.

Our next seminar in the series will be held on Thursday 31 January 2019. We shall welcome Dr. Sally El Sawah who will speak on Investment Protection and the host State’s Right to Regulate.

This summary is produced by Mr Samuel Nzolantima (SOAS LLM, International Law; Student in the International Investment Law module).

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