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Role of Law and Public in Environmental Management 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 Publisher of the Year 2021 and CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021*

The importance of the right to a clean and healthy environment cannot be overemphasized. It is an essential human right that has been equated to the right to life in Kenya. Since it contains virtually all the ingredients necessary for human survival, the natural environment is often susceptible to human action such the use and exploitation of natural resources including water, minerals and energy. Some of these activities have resulted in environmental degradation threatening the right to a clean and healthy environment. Environmental management is essential towards attainment of the right to a clean and healthy environment in Kenya. It regulates human interaction with the environment. Environmental management combines science, policy, and socioeconomic application in finding solutions to practical problems that people face in cohabitation with the environment, resource exploitation and waste production.

The Environmental Management and Co-Ordination Act (EMCA) defines environmental management to include the protection, conservation and sustainable use of the various elements or components of the environment. However, in Kenya, environmental management has often taken a human approach with little emphasis on the role of science and technology towards achieving this goal. The paper analyses environmental management tools in Kenya and points out the shortcomings in the human approach towards environmental management. It proposes an integrated approach towards environmental management in Kenya that fully recognizes and incorporates the use of science and technology.

The Constitution of Kenya, 2010 enshrines the right to a clean and healthy environment. It further sets out certain obligations in respect of the environment. These include the requirement of the state to ensure sustainable exploitation, utilization, management and conservation of the environment and natural resources; and to encourage public participation in the management, protection and conservation of the environment.6 In addition to the Constitution, environmental management in Kenya is also governed by various sectoral legislations. The Environmental Management and Coordination Act is the principal legal instrument for the management of the environment in Kenya. The Act also establishes an institutional framework for management of the environment in Kenya. It further sets out several measures aimed at protection and conservation of the environment and several environmental management tools such as Strategic Environmental Assessment, Environmental Impact Assessment, Environmental Audit and Monitoring and Environmental Quality Standards.

Environmental management is also governed by a number of systems and standards. The ISO 14000 entails a number of standards developed by the International Organization for Standardization to help organizations take a proactive approach to managing environmental issues. The ISO standards provide a framework through which governments and regulatory bodies can structure their environmental management tools to ensure alignment and consistency both nationally and internationally. EMCA also establishes environmental quality standards aimed at protecting various sectors of the environment through placing limits on discharge and emissions. These include water quality standards, air quality standards, standards for waste and standards for noise.

Despite law being an essential tool for environmental management in Kenya, it is clouded by certain weaknesses that hinder its efficacy towards this course. These weaknesses include complex institutional set ups, differing and overlapping mandates of state agencies tasked with environmental management and conflicting management and enforcement methods over similar resources. Further, there exist enforceability challenges as can be witnessed in aspects such as solid waste management. This brings to the fore the role of the public in Environmental Management.

The Rio Declaration provides that environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. In Kenya, public participation is a key aspect of environmental and natural resources management. It allows persons who are likely to be affected by environmental laws, policies and projects within their localities to express their views for consideration in implementation of such laws, policies and projects. Public participation has been enshrined as one of the national values and principles under the Constitution. The Constitution further obligates the state to encourage public participation in the management, protection and conservation of the environment.

The role of public participation environmental management was succinctly captured in Patrick Musimba v National Land Commission & 4 others, where it was held that: ‘We have no doubt that the State under Article 69 of the Constitution is enjoined to ensure sustainable development: see also the Preamble to the Constitution. The State is also to ensure that every person has a right to a clean and healthy environment. However physical development must also be allowed to foster to ensure that the other guaranteed rights and freedoms are also achieved. Such physical development must however be undertaken within a constitutional and statutory framework to ensure that the environment thrives and survives. It is for such reason that the Constitution provides for public participation in the management, protection and conservation of the environment.’

Public participation is an essential tool of environmental management in Kenya which ensures that the views of the public are taken into account in environmental decision making. However, public participation in environmental decision making raises certain concerns such as the quality and extent of participation and the need to ensure that it is not enough for people to participate but there is need for them to be able to appreciate the real implications of any decision being made. Without this, public participation is reduced to a matter of formality without any real benefit or achieving the desired end. There is no question that to achieve adequate level of public participation in environmental management, there is need to ensure that proper legal framework for environmental management is in place.

*This article is an extract from the Article: “Utilising Science and Technology for Environmental Management in Kenya,” Journal of Conflict Management and Sustainable Development Volume 8(2), p. 172  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). Dr. Kariuki Muigua is a foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert in Kenya. 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 among the top 5 leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts in Kenya by the Chambers Global Guide 2022.


Environmental Management and Co-Ordination Act (EMCA), No. 8 of 1999, Government Printer, Nairobi.

Environmental Management: The ISO 14000 family of International Standards, available at 09.pdf(Accessed on 03/04/2020).

Haregu Nigatu. T., An assessment of the evolution of Kenya’s solid waste management policies and their implementation in Nairobi and Mombasa: analysis of policies and practices, Environment and Urbanization, Vol. 29, Issue 2, 2017.

Muigua. K., Wamukoya. D., & Kariuki. F., ‘Natural Resources and Environmental Justice in Kenya’ Glenwood Publishers Limited, 2015.

Muigua. K., Towards Meaningful Public Participation in Natural Resource Management in Kenya, available at (accessed on 01/04/2020).

National Environment Commission, ‘Environmental Management Tools and Techniques’ available at (accessed on 17/03/2020).

Peter K. Waweru v Republic, Misc. Civil Application No. 118 of 2004, (2006) eKLR.

Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, 1992, A/CONF.151/26 (Vol. I), Principle 10.

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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