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Legal Instruments Relating to Gender Equality and Mainstreaming in Africa



By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD (Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Policy Advisor, Natural Resources Lawyer and Dispute Resolution Expert from Kenya), Winner of Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021, ADR Publication of the Year 2021 and CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021*

Kenya and the African continent have for a long time struggled with the issue of gender equality and equity across societies especially with regard to economic, social and political spheres, with the women sometimes bearing the biggest brunt of this inequality and equity and occasionally men in some areas. Various African entities have come up with international and regional legal instruments meant to offer guidelines to countries on the measures to be taken to streamline gender issues in all areas of their people’s lives and development agenda. We briefly review the African legal and institutional framework for gender equality and its relevance to Kenya.

African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights (Banjul Charter)

The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (also known as the Banjul Charter) is an international (African region) human rights instrument that is intended to promote and protect human rights and basic freedoms in the African continent. The Banjul Charter obligates the Member States of the Organization of African Unity parties to the present Charter to recognize the rights, duties and freedoms enshrined in this Chapter and that they should undertake to adopt legislative or other measures to give effect to them. The Charter also guarantees that every individual shall be entitled to the enjoyment of the rights and freedoms recognized and guaranteed in the present Charter without distinction of any kind such as race, ethnic group, color, sex, language, religion, political or any other opinion, national and social origin, fortune, birth or other status.

Some authors have however questioned the commitment of African states in upholding human rights or even the effectiveness of the Charter itself in achieving protection of human rights. For instance, it has been observed that while the African Charter is defined as an application of the UN Declaration of Human Rights to the African perspective, and a legal instrument ‘written by Africans for Africans’, it is evident that African governments are less than willing to condemn human rights violations in their own states as demonstrated not only by the emphasis on development and political stability at the expense of human rights but also in the drafting of the African Charter itself.

Southern African Development Community (SADC), 1997 Declaration on Gender and Development and 2008 Protocol on Gender and Development

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Declaration on Gender and Development was made in 1997 on the basis that SADC Member States undertook, in the SADC Treaty Article 6(2), not to discriminate against any person on the grounds of inter alia, sex or gender. In addition, SADC Member States committed to mainstream gender into the SADC Programme of Action and Community Building initiatives as a prerequisite for sustainable development. SADC Member States acknowledged gender equality as a fundamental human right and therefore signed the Declaration on Gender and Development on 8th September 1997 to promote closer regional cooperation and collective action as a means of fostering gender equality and as a reaffirmation of SADC’s commitment to eliminating gender discrimination and mainstreaming gender issues in Southern Africa.

SADC Heads of State and Government signed and adopted the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development in August 2008 with the exception of Botswana and Mauritius. The Objectives of the Protocol are among others to provide for the empowerment of women, to eliminate discrimination and to achieve gender equality and equity through the development and implementation of gender responsive legislation, policies, programmes and projects. It also seeks to harmonise the various international, continental and regional gender equality instruments that SADC Member States have subscribed to.

Generally, the principle objectives of the gender-mainstreaming programme in SADC are to: put in place the necessary institutional mechanisms, operational guidelines and to promote a culture that will facilitate gender mainstreaming in the Secretariat; build the capacity of the staff of the Secretariat and SADC Member States to systematically develop, implement and sustain gender mainstreamed plans, strategies and programmes on an ongoing basis; ensure that the necessary human and financial resources for gender mainstreaming are mobilized for training; capacity building and programme implementation; and ensure that the commitments of the integration and development objectives to gender equality and women’s empowerment are effectively implemented at the Member State level. While Kenya is not a Member State of SADC, the above objectives though not fully implemented by the members offer some guiding principles for Kenya to consider.

African Union (AU), Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa

The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa requires that States Parties should combat all forms of discrimination against women through appropriate legislative, institutional and other measures. In this regard the Protocol requires State Parties to: include in their national constitutions and other legislative instruments, if not already done, the principle of equality between women and men and ensure its effective application; enact and effectively implement appropriate legislative or regulatory measures, including those prohibiting and curbing all forms of discrimination particularly those harmful practices which endanger the health and general well-being of women; integrate a gender perspective in their policy decisions, legislation, development plans, programmes and activities and in all other spheres of life; take corrective and positive action in those areas where discrimination against women in law and in fact continues to exist; and support the local, national, regional and continental initiatives directed at eradicating all forms of discrimination against women.

States Parties are also obligated to commit themselves to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of women and men through public education, information, education and communication strategies, with a view to achieving the elimination of harmful cultural and traditional practices and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either of the sexes, or on stereotyped roles for women and men.

African Union Solemn Declaration of Gender Equality in Africa, 2004

The African Union Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa was a Member State’s reaffirmation of their commitment to the principle of gender equality as enshrined in Article 4 (l) of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, as well as other existing commitments, principles, goals and actions set out in the various regional, continental and international instruments on human and women’s rights, including the Dakar Platform for Action (1994), the Beijing Platform for Action (1995), the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW -1979), the African Plan of Action to Accelerate the Implementation of the Dakar and Beijing Platforms for Action for the Advancement of Women (1999); the Outcome Document of the Twenty-third Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the Implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action (2000); UN Resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security; and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (2003). The Members agreed to ensure the active promotion and protection of all human rights for women and girls including the right to development by raising awareness or by legislation where necessary.

African Union Gender Policy, 2009

The overall goal of the African Union Gender Policy is to adopt a rights based approach to development through evidence-based decision–making and the use of sex-disaggregated data and performance indicators for the achievement of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Africa. It seeks to promote a gender responsive environment and practices and undertake commitments linked to the realization of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Member States, and at the international, continental, regional and national levels.

*This is article is an extract from an article by Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya): Muigua, K., Revisiting the Role of Law in Environmental Governance in Kenya, Available at: Muigua, K., Actualizing the National Policy on Gender and Development in Kenya, Available at: Dr. Kariuki Muigua is Kenya’s foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert. Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a Senior Lecturer of Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law and The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP). He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Dr. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Africa Trustee of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates. Dr. Muigua is recognized as one of the leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts by the Chambers Global Guide 2021. 


African Union, Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, 11 July 2003, Available at: (Accessed 18 December 2021).

African Union, Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa, adopted by the AU Assembly in 2004, Available at: (Accessed 18 December 2021).

African Union Gender Policy, Rev 2/Feb 10, 2009, Available at:

African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, “Legal instruments,’ Available at: legalinstruments/detail?id=49 (Accessed 18 December 2021).

Organization of African Unity (OAU), African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (“Banjul Charter”), 27 June 1981, CAB/LEG/67/3 rev. 5, 21 I.L.M.

Patrick-Patel, L., ‘The African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights: how effective is this legal instrument in shaping a continental human rights culture in Africa?’ (Le petit juriste, 21 December 2014), Available at: (Accessed 18 December 2021).

SADC, ‘Southern African Development Community: Gender’ (Accessed 18 December 2021).

SADC, ‘Southern African Development Community: Gender Mainstreaming,’ Available at: (Accessed 18 December 2021).

News & Analysis

Why is THE LAWYER AFRICA Listing Top Law Firms and Top Lawyers?




The Litigation Hall of Fame | Kenya in 2023 (The Most Distinguished 50 Litigation Lawyers in Kenya).

We live in the age of information overload where too much information (TMI) is increasingly making it difficult to find actionable legal data about a good law firm or lawyer. At the same time, legal services are increasingly going digital and finding your next lawyer is a now a matter of a few clicks. Many existing, new and potential clients are interested to know more about the lawyer handling or likely to handle their next case or transaction as every HR Manager seeks to know how their In-house Lawyer or next hire compares to peers.

The biggest dilemma especially for commercial consumers of legal services  is where to begin the journey in finding the law firm or the lawyer to meet their immediate legal need created by their new venture,  business, transaction or dispute. In-house counsel are also called upon to justify opting for one lawyer or law firm or over the other.  Hence, the rise in the popularity of international law directories rankings as an attempt to fill the yawning gap by listing a few dozen lawyers and law firms in esoteric categories that often don’t align with the legal needs of the domestic legal market.

But ranking two dozen elite lawyers or big law firms in a big jurisdiction like Kenya there are over 20,000 lawyers is merely a drop in the ocean. The result is the same candidates are listed year after year and an In-house Legal Team looking to infuse new blood in their external counsel panel is left very little discretion. At best, International legal ranking only succeed to tilt the scales in favour of few big firms and their lawyers and to aid the choice of International Legal buyers who are constrained for time in picking their External Counsel in jurisdictions where they cannot find referrals.

The questions that beg are: What about the other top law firms and lawyers who are equally good if not better but don’t have the time to fill the technical paperwork that comes with International Legal Directories rankings? What about Domestic Legal Buyers who simply want to justify why they prefer a lawyer or law firm not listed in the International Directory? Can increasing the number of listed lawyers or law firms from less 0.1% of the profession (as captured by International Law Directories) to at least 1% of the profession or higher for those specializing in the practice area help in enhancing access to justice in Africa? Can ranking law firms by number of fee earners help in the quest for a more accurate bird’s eye view of a country’s legal landscape?

At THE LAWYER AFRICA, we have set out to list Top Law Firms and Top Lawyers in the various practice areas in a way that democratizes law rankings and listings and brings this essential value add within reach of most lawyers and every law firms doing top legal work. We don’t promise to list all the top lawyers or law firms, but we commit to make sure every lawyer or law firm we list is at the top of the game in the listed practice area. We aim to help both little known and already known law firms and lawyers doing top legal work in their area of specialization get discovered by discerning clients and possibly get more opportunities to do great work.

THE LAWYER AFRICA is looking to list up to Top 200 Law Firms in every African Jurisdiction based on their reputation and number of fee earners headcount with a goal of listing at least Africa’s Top 1,000 Law Firms which are leaders in their respective countries. We also seek to list up to Top 1,000 Lawyers in every country in Africa in at least five main practice areas, namely, Litigation, Commercial Law, Property law, In-house and Private Sector or more.

THE LAWYER AFRICA categorizes law firms in large jurisdictions as Top 5, Top 10, Top 20, Top 50 and Top 100 (and allow tying where number of counsel is equal). The Top Lawyers are listed in three categories, namely, Hall of Fame (the Distinguished Top 50 or 75 Practitioners in a Practice Area), Top 100 (the Leading Top 100 Practitioners in a Practice Area) and Up-and-Coming (the promising Top 50 or 75 Practitioners in a Practice Area).  The placing of a listings depends on a number of key factors including the number of key matters or transactions handled, years in practice and experience, size of team working under a counsel, reputation and opinion of peers (where available) as established by THE LAWYER AFRICA.

THE LAWYER AFRICA prefers to list a counsel in only one listing, as far as possible. The Team tries (as far as possible) not to contact listed law firms or lawyers before the listing is finalized in the first. However, a listed law firm or lawyer may be contacted at the pre-launch stage of a list for purposes of selling merchandise relating to the launch but such engagement will not affect the listing. In case of future listings, it is expected that interested lawyers or law firms who feel they were previously left out of the list may to provide information for consideration to determine if they qualify for the next listing but that will not guarantee any listing.

THE LAWYER AFRICA undertakes not to charge for listing any lawyer or law firm. However, upon publication of a listing, as part of recovering the sunk costs we incur in the research and publication of the listings, we shall charge a token for printing and shipping of Quality A3 Certificate for listed Law Firms and/or A4 Certificate for listed Lawyers who wish to have or display the branded souvenirs or to use our proprietary digital materials in their business  branding. We may also charge listed and unlisted law firms and lawyers an affordable fee for limited banner advertising or publishing of enhanced profiles next to the listings.

For any question or feedback on any list or listing, feel free to contact THE LAWYER AFRICA PUBLISHER at info[at]thelawyer[dot]africa.

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News & Analysis

The Roles of the Three Parts of the Permanent Court of Arbitration




H.E. Amb. Marcin Czepelak, the Fourteenth Secretary-General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)

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News & Analysis

Brief History of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA)




By Dr. Kariuki Muigua, PhD, C.Arb, Current Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) Representing the Republic of Kenya.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is a 124 Years Old Intergovernmental Organization currently with 122 contracting states. It was established at the turn of 20th Century during the first Hague Peace Conference held between 18th May and 29th July 1899. The conference was an initiative of then Russian Czar Nicholas II to discuss peace and disarmament and specifically with the object of “seeking the most effective means of ensuring to all peoples the benefits of a real and lasting peace, and, above all, of limiting the progressive development of existing armaments.” The culmination of the conference was the adoption of a Convention on the Pacific Settlement of International Disputes, which dealt not only with arbitration but also with other methods of pacific settlement, such as good offices and mediation.

The aim of the conference was to “strengthen systems of international dispute resolution” especially international arbitration which in the last century had proven effective for the purpose with number of successful international arbitrations being concluded among Nations. The Alabama arbitration of 1871-1872 between the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (US) under the Treaty of Washington of 1871 culminating in the arbitral tribunal’s award that the UK pay the US compensation for breach of neutrality during American Civil War which it did had demonstrated the effectiveness of arbitration in settling of international disputes and piqued interest of many practitioners in it as a mode of dispute resolution during the latter years of the nineteenth century.

The Institut de Droit International adopted a code of procedure for arbitration in 1875 to answer the need for a general law of arbitration governing for countries and parties wishing to have recourse to international arbitration. The growth of arbitration as a mode of international dispute resolution formed the background of the 1899 conference and informed its most enduring achievement, namely, the establishment of the PCA as the first global mechanism for the settlement of disputes between states. Article 16 of the 1899 Convention recognized that “in questions of a legal nature, and especially in the interpretation or application of International Conventions” arbitration is the “most effective, and at the same time the most equitable, means of settling disputes which diplomacy has failed to settle.”

In turn, the 1899 Convention provided for the creation of permanent machinery to enable the setting up of arbitral tribunals as necessary and to facilitate their work under the auspices of the institution it named as the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). In particular, Article 20 of the 1899 Convention stated that “[w]ith the object of facilitating an immediate recourse to arbitration for international differences which it has not been possible to settle by diplomacy, the signatory Powers undertake to organize a Permanent Court of Arbitration, accessible at all times and operating, unless otherwise stipulated by the parties, in accordance with the rules of procedure inserted in the present Convention.” In effect, the Convention set up a permanent system of international arbitration and institutionalized the law and practice of arbitration in a definite and acceptable way.

As a result, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) was established in 1900 and began operating in 1902. The PCA as established consisted of a panel of jurists designated by each country acceding to the Convention with each country being entitled to designate up to four from among whom the members of each arbitral tribunal might be chosen. In addition, the Convention created a permanent Bureau, located in The Hague, with functions similar to those of a court registry or secretariat. The 1899 Convention also laid down a set of rules of procedure to govern the conduct of arbitrations under the PCA framework.

The second Hague Peace Conference in 1907 saw a revision of the 1899 Convention and improvement of the rules governing arbitral proceedings. Today, the PCA has developed into a modern, multi-faceted arbitral institution perfectly situated to meet the evolving dispute resolution needs of the international community. The Permanent Court of Arbitration has also diversified its service offering alongside those contemplated by the Conventions. For instance, today the International Bureau of the Permanent Court of Arbitration serves as a registry in important international arbitrations. In 1993, the Permanent Court of Arbitration adopted new “Optional Rules for Arbitrating Disputes between Two Parties of Which Only One Is a State” and, in 2001, “Optional Rules for Arbitration of Disputes Relating to Natural Resources and/or the Environment”.


PCA Website: (accessed on 25th May 2023).

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