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International Legal Instruments Relating to Gender Equality in Kenya



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*

Article 2(5) and (6) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides that ‘the general rules of international law shall form part of the law of Kenya’ and that ‘any treaty or convention ratified by Kenya shall form part of the law of Kenya under this Constitution’ respectively. In Re The Matter of Zipporah Wambui Mathara [2010] eKLR the High Court held that by virtue of the provisions of Section 2 (6) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010, International Treaties, and Conventions that Kenya has ratified, were imported as part of the sources of the Kenyan Law and thus the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Kenya ratified on 1st May 1972 were part of the Kenyan law.

The court went on to hold that the provisions of the ICCPR superseded those contained in the Banking Act. It is in line with the country’s international obligations on human rights and gender issues that Article 59 (2) (g) of the Constitution of Kenya provides that one of the functions of the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission is to act as the principal organ of the State in ensuring compliance with obligations under treaties and conventions relating to human rights. It is however noteworthy that the National Gender and Equality Commission Act, 2011 has since established the National Gender and Equality Commission as the successor in title to the Kenya National Human Rights and Equality Commission established by Article 59 of the Constitution, pursuant to clauses (4) and (5) of that Article. Its functions however remain the same.

It is in line with the Commission’s mandate on international treaties and conventions that the Sessional Paper No. 02 of 2019 on National Policy on Gender and Development outlines the national agenda for gender equality and how Kenya intends to realize these ideals; details the overarching principles, which will be adopted and integrated into the National and County Government sectoral policies, practices and programmes and by all state and non-state actors; and it specifically takes cognizance of, inter alia: international and regional treaties on gender equality that Kenya has ratified such as the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Maputo Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights guarantees that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood. It also provides that each individual is entitled to enjoy their rights and freedoms ‘…without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status’.  Article 7 therein also guarantees that ‘all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law’.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) defines the term “discrimination against women” to mean any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. CEDAW also provides that States Parties should condemn discrimination against women in all its forms, agree to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating discrimination against women and, to this end, undertake: to embody the principle of the equality of men and women in their national constitutions or other appropriate legislation.

CEDAW also obligates States Parties to take in all fields, in particular in the political, social, economic and cultural fields, all appropriate measures, including legislation, to ensure the full development and advancement of women, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on a basis of equality with men. CEDAW also provides that States Parties should take all appropriate measures: to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary 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 men and women.

CEDAW also provides that States Parties should take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural development. Thus, the CEDAW covers civil rights, the legal status of women, the dimension of human reproduction and the impact of cultural factors on gender relations. Unlike other legal instruments, it acknowledges that different factors affect the relationships and interactions between men and women and thus outlines some obligations for State Parties to address all these factors.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) guarantees that ‘all peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development’. ICCPR also provides that each State Party to the present Covenant undertakes to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction the rights recognized in the present Covenant, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

In addition, ICCPR provides that the States Parties to the present Covenant undertake to ensure the equal right of men and women to the enjoyment of all civil and political rights set forth in the present Covenant. Article 26 of the ICCPR further provides that ‘all persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status’.

Nairobi Forward looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women

The Nairobi Forward looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women captured the concern that the resources available to the programme on the advancement of women of the Secretariat were insufficient to ensure adequate support to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and effective implementation of other aspects of the programme, especially the preparations for the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in 1995.

The delegation that called again upon Member States to give priority to policies and programmes relating to the subtheme “Employment, health and education”, in particular to literacy, for the empowerment of women, especially those in the rural areas, to meet their own needs through self-reliance and the mobilization of indigenous resources, as well as to issues relating to the role of women in economic and political decision-making, population, the environment and information. The delegates also emphasized, in the framework of the Forward-looking Strategies, the importance of the total integration of women in the development process, bearing in mind the specific and urgent needs of the developing countries, and calls upon Member States to establish specific targets at each level in order to increase the participation of women in professional, management and decision-making positions in their countries.

Fourth World Conference on Women, Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action

The Fourth World Conference on Women met in Beijing, China, from 4 to 15 September 1995 where delegates discussed and adopted the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The objective of the Beijing conference was to review the achievement of the goals of equality, development and peace, as outlined in the Nairobi Forward Looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women to the Year 2000 in 1985, and to establish a strategy for removing the remaining obstacles to the achievement of these goals. The Declaration recognized that the status of women had advanced but that inequalities and obstacles remained. It reaffirmed commitments to: equal rights in a number of existing agreements; ensuring full implementation of human rights of women and the girl child; and empowerment and advancement of women, including the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief.

Delegates also stated their conviction that: women’s empowerment and full participation are fundamental to equality, development and peace; equal rights and responsibilities are critical to families; women’s involvement is required to eradicate poverty; peace is linked to the advancement of women; and gender-sensitive policies are essential to foster women’s empowerment and advancement. Governments also affirmed their determination to: intensify efforts to achieve goals from the Nairobi strategies; ensure the full enjoyment by women and the girl child of human rights; eliminate discrimination and remove obstacles to equality; encourage men to participate in actions towards equality; promote women’s economic independence; promote sustainable development and education; prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls; ensure full participation; and ensure equal access to economic resources.

United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women

The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (DEVAW) provides that women are entitled to the equal enjoyment and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field. These rights include, inter alia: the right to life; the right to equality; the right to liberty and security of person; the right to equal protection under the law; the right to be free from all forms of discrimination; the right to the highest standard attainable of physical and mental health; the right to just and favourable conditions of work; the right not to be subjected to torture, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. DEVAW also obligates States to condemn violence against women and should not invoke any custom, tradition or religious consideration to avoid their obligations with respect to its elimination.

*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. 


David Njoroge Macharia v Republic [2011] eKLR, Criminal Appeal 497 of 2007.

Doran, P. and Others, “Summary of the Fourth World Conference on Women: 4-15 September 1995.” Earth Negotiations Bulletin 14, no. 21 (1995): 1 <> Accessed 13 October 2020.

National Gender and Equality Commission Act, No.15 of 2011, Laws of Kenya.

Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, “The Implications Of The Fourth World Conference On Women for Bilateral Development Co-Operation: Report From The DAC Expert Group On Women In Development Seminar, Held In Paris On 25-26 January 1996, Working Party on Gender Equality, DCD/DAC/WID(99)4, Available at: documentpdf/?cote=DCD/DAC/WID(99)4&docLanguage=En > Accessed 13 October 2020.

Orinde, H., ‘Survey Reveals How Kenyans Are Ignorant of Their Human Rights’ (The Standard) accessed 14 October 2020.

Samuel Kamau Macharia & Another vs Kenya Commercial Bank Limited & 2 Others Sup. Ct. Application No. 2 of 2011; [2012] eKLR.

Treaty-Making and Ratification Act, No. 45 of 2012, Laws of Kenya.

UN General Assembly, Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women, 20 December 1993, A/RES/48/104.

UN General Assembly, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December 1948, 217 A (III). 15 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 1.

UN General Assembly, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, 18 December 1979, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 1249, p. 13.

UN General Assembly, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 16 December 1966, United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 999, p. 171.

UN General Assembly, Implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women: resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, 16 December 1991, A/RES/46/98.

United Nations, Beijing Declaration and Platform of Action, adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women, A/CONF.177/20 and A/CONF.177/20/Add.1 Date of adoption: 15 September 1995.

United Nations. Gender Mainstreaming an Overview. Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, 2002 <> Accessed 9 October 2020.

UN General Assembly, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, 21 October 2015, A/RES/70/1. 9 ‘Sustainable Development Goal 5: Gender Equality’ (UN Women) accessed 15 October 2020.

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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