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Place of Wetlands in Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Development



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*

Biodiversity conservation is frequently related with a biocentric perspective, in which all life on Earth has intrinsic value. There are both ecocentric and anthropocentric reasons for taking care of wetlands, for purposes of meeting human needs as well as protecting biodiversity resources. This is because wetlands’ ecological services are linked to an anthropocentric viewpoint in which biodiversity has instrumental value since it contributes to services that benefit human well-being. Wetlands are split into two types: coastal/tidal and inland/non-tidal, and both provide essential habitat for a range of aquatic and terrestrial species.

The United Nations Charter for Nature (1982) promotes an ecocentric approach to biodiversity protection, stating that “every form of life is unique, deserving of respect regardless of its value to man….In accordance with national legislation, all persons shall have the opportunity to participate, individually or in groups, in the formulation of decisions directly affecting their environment, and shall have access to measures of redress if their environment has been damaged or degraded.” Nurturing wetlands is a key step towards biodiversity conservation and because ‘where mutually beneficial relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem services exist (win–win), there will be much larger and more powerful sets of potential partners in conservation’. The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat (Ramsar Convention on Wetlands) acknowledges the fundamental ecological functions of wetlands as regulators of water regimes and as habitats supporting a characteristic flora and fauna, especially waterfowl in its preamble.

There is a crucial link between nurturing wetlands resources and supporting successful biodiversity conservation as a means of guaranteeing the future, both for humans and all other living things that inhabit wetlands. Wetlands play an important role in hydrological and biogeochemical cycles because they provide a wide range of ecosystem goods and services to humans, including the ability to retain water during the dry season and keep the water table high and moderately stable, the ability to regulate a microclimate, and many ecosystem services that are critical to reducing community vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather events in particular. As a result, they serve a key ecological function that is essential for biological survival and human development. They also offer a wide range of leisure activities, including fishing, hunting, photography, and animal observation.

Biodiversity is an important part of the efforts towards achieving Sustainable Development agenda as it is the source of all life and all raw materials required to meet human needs. Any efforts to secure human life for both the present and future generations must, therefore, include conservation of biodiversity as a matter of necessity. Conserving Biodiversity for a Better Future is thus an idea that we must deeply reflect on as a matter of urgency. Apart from the moral and legal grounds for respect for human rights in conservation efforts, it has been opined that practically, conservation will often be more effective if people’s rights are respected and fulfilled: Local people who benefit from conservation and who are better able to meet their needs and achieve their development objectives are more likely to change any behaviour that may damage the environment through overexploitation; local and indigenous people often have knowledge, skills and organisational capacities that are useful and relevant in resource management; people are more likely to follow resource management agreements and rules if they have had input into these agreements.

Participation in decision-making makes it more likely that the agreements will meet their needs and will reflect what is achievable. It is imperative that all stakeholders join hands in conservation of biodiversity. It is also important to point out that in addition to mitigation, biodiversity and ecosystem services play an important role in adapting to the impacts of climate change, and reducing the risk of climate-related and non-climate-related disasters. Unless challenges threatening wetlands and biodiversity resources within these wetlands are addressed, the dream of achieving sustainable development goals will remain a mirage.

Threats to Wetlands Conservation including human development, urbanization, and poor management have all been blamed for the disappearance of wetlands. Due to changes in land-use patterns, such as conversion of wetlands into farmlands, human settlements, urban centers, and infrastructure development, it is estimated that the area of wetlands has decreased by more than half since 1900. These are exacerbated by current challenges to biodiversity protection, such as habitat loss and degradation, climate change, chemical and biochemical pollution, logging and poaching, invasive species, illness, and the loss of plant pollinators, among others. That wetlands in Kenya also suffer from over-exploitation of their natural resources is one major threat. Others are encroachment, habitat degradation and biodiversity loss.

It has been contended that because wetlands produce a wide range of plant, animal, and mineral products that are used and valued by people all over the world, whether in local, rural communities or far-off cities in foreign countries, wetlands have attracted significant portions of human populations who survive by exploiting their resources through various resource utilization activities, often driven by economic and financial considerations. Such reliance on natural resource exploitation for survival always puts the resources in jeopardy, especially if the value of the resources is unknown or undervalued by the stakeholders.

*This article is an extract from the Article: Nurturing our Wetlands for Biodiversity Conservation 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.


BirdLife International, International B, ‘An Introduction to Conservation and Human Rights for BirdLife Partners’, 11.

Buckley, R.C., ‘Grand Challenges in Conservation Research’ (2015) 3 Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 128 (accessed 28 December 2021).

Dinsa TT and Gemeda DO, ‘The Role of Wetlands for Climate Change Mitigation and Biodiversity Conservation’ (2019) 23 Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management 1297.

Mwangi B, “Threats of Land Use Changes on Wetland and Water Areas of Murang’a County, Kenya.” Applied Ecology and Environmental Sciences, vol. 9, no. 6 (2021): 585-590. doi: 10.12691/aees-9-6-2.

Nature Kenya, ‘Wetlands and Biodiversity’ (accessed 30 December 2021).

Oduor FO, Raburu PO and Mwakubo S, “To conserve or convert wetlands: evidence from Nyando wetlands, Kenya.” Journal of Development and Agricultural Economics 7, no. 2 (2015): 48-54, at 48-49.

OECD (2019), Biodiversity: Finance and the Economic and Business Case for Action, report prepared for the G7 Environment Ministers’ Meeting, 5-6 May 2019, 31.

Planet Forward, ‘Wetland Conservation and Its Impact on Biodiversity’ (accessed 28 December 2021).

Reyers, B., Polasky, S., Tallis, H., Mooney, H.A. and Larigauderie, A., ‘Finding Common Ground for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services’ (2012) 62 BioScience 503.

UN General Assembly, World Charter for Nature., 28 October 1982, A/RES/37/7, Preamble; Principle 23.

United Nations, Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl Habitat, Ramsar, Iran, 2.2.1971 as amended by the Protocol of 3.12.1982 and the Amendments of 28.5.1987.

U.S. National Park Service, ‘Why Are Wetlands Important? – Wetlands (U.S. National Park Service)’ (accessed 30 December 2021).

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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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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Former KCB Company Secretary Sues Over Unlawful Dismissal




Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania who has sued the Bank for Unlawful Dismissal

Former KCB Group Company Secretary Joseph Kamau Kania has sued the lender seeking reinstatement or be compensated for illegal sacking almost three years ago. Lawyer Kania was the KCB Group company secretary until restructuring of the lender in 2021 that saw some senior executives dropped.

Through the firm of Senior Counsel Wilfred Nderitu, Kamau wants the court to order KCB Group to unconditionally reinstate him to employment without altering any of the contractual terms until his retirement in December 2025.

In his court documents filed before Employment and Labour Relations Court, the career law banker seeks the court to declare the reorganization of the company structure a nullity and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution. He further wants the court to declare that the position of Group Company Secretary did not at any time cease to exist within the KCB Group structure.

He further urged the Employment Court to declare that the recruitment and appointment of Bonnie Okumu, his former assistant, as the Group Company Secretary, in relation to the contemporaneous termination of his employment, was unprocedural, insufficient and inappropriate to infer a lawful termination of his employment.

“A declaration that the factual and legal circumstances of the Petitioner’s termination of employment were insufficient and inappropriate to infer a redundancy against him, and that any redundancy declared by the KCB Group in relation to him was therefore null, void and of no legal effect and amounted to a violation of his fundamental right to fair labour practices as guaranteed in Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.

Kamau says he was subjected to discriminatory practices by the KCB Bank Group in violation of his fundamental right to equality and freedom from discrimination as guaranteed in Article 27 of the Constitution and the termination of his employment was unfair, unjustified, illegal, null and void.

Lawyer Kamau further seeks the court to declare that the Non-Compete Clause in the 2016 Contract is unenforceable by the KCB Group as against him and is voidable by him as against the Bank ab initio, byreason of the termination of the Petitioner’s employment having been a violation of Articles 41(1) and 47(1) and (2) of the Constitution, and of the Employment Act.

He also wants the Employment Court to find that finding that KCB’s group legal representation by Messrs of Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates law firm in respect of his claim for unlawful termination of employment resulted in a clear conflict of interest by reason of the fact that a Founding and Senior Partner at the said firm lawyer Mohammed Nyaoga is also the Chairman of the CBK’s Board of Directors.

“A Declaration that the circumstances of KCB’s legal representation by Messrs. Mohammed Muigai LLP Advocates resulted in a violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to have the employment dispute decided independently and impartially, as guaranteed in Article 50(1) of the Constitution,” seeks lawyer Kamau.

Kamau is seeking damages against both KCB Group and Central Bank of Kenya jointly and severally for the violation of his constitutional and fundamental right to fair labour practices.

He wants  further wants court to declare that CBK is liable to petitioner on account of its breach of statutory duty to effectively regulate KCB Group to ensure that KCB complied with the Central Bank of Kenya Prudential Guidelines and all other Laws, Rules, Codes and Standards, and that, as an issuer of securities, it complied with capital markets legislation.

Kamau through his lawyer Nderitu told the court that he was involved in Shareholder engagement in introducing the Group aide-mémoire that significantly improved the management of the Annual General Meetings, including obtaining approval without voting through the Memorandum and Articles of Association of Kenya Commercial Bank Limited among others.

He said that during his employment at KCB Bank Kenya and with the KCB Group, he initially worked well with former KCB CEO Joseph Oigara until 2016 when the CEO allegedly started sidelining him by removing the legal function from his reporting line.

He further claims he was transferred from the Group’s offices at Kencom House to its offices Upper Hill under the guise that the Petitioner was merely to support the KCB Group Board.

He adds that at that point his roles were given to Okumu for reasons that were not related to work demands.  He stated that Oigara at one time proposed that he should leave his role in the KCB Group and go and serve as the Company Secretary of the National Bank of Kenya Limited, a subsidiary of the Group, a suggestion which he disagreed with to Oigara’s utter annoyance.

Kamau stated that his work was thenceforth unfairly discredited, leading to his being taken through a disciplinary process whose intended outcome failed miserably, and the Petitioner was vindicated.

“More specifically, the Petitioner contends that the purported creation of a new organizational structure towards the end of 2020 was in fact Oigara’s orchestration targeted to remove certain individuals by requiring them to undergo interviews in the pretext that new roles were created, and amounted to a further violation of the Petitioner’s fundamental right to fair labour practices under Article 41(1) of the Constitution,” said in his court documents.

He further adds that this sham reorganization demonstrates how the role of the KCB Group Company Secretary purportedly ceased to be and was then very briefly replaced with a new role of the KCB Group General Counsel. The role of KCB Group Company Secretary then ‘resurfaced’ immediately thereafter, in total violation of legal and regulatory requirements.

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