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Overview of Human Right to Clean, Safe and Healthy Environment

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By Hon. Prof. Kariuki Muigua, OGW, PhD, C.Arb, FCIArb is a Professor of Environmental Law and Dispute Resolution at the University of Nairobi, Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration, Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Respected Sustainable Development Policy Advisor, Top Natural Resources Lawyer, Highly-Regarded Dispute Resolution Expert and Awardee of the Order of Grand Warrior (OGW) of Kenya by H.E. the President of Republic of Kenya. He is the Academic Champion of ADR 2024, the African ADR Practitioner of the Year 2022, the African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, ADR Practitioner of the Year in Kenya 2021, CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 and ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and Author of the Kenya’s First ESG Book: Embracing Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) tenets for Sustainable Development” (Glenwood, Nairobi, July 2023) and Kenya’s First Two Climate Change Law Book: Combating Climate Change for Sustainability (Glenwood, Nairobi, October 2023), Achieving Climate Justice for Development (Glenwood, Nairobi, October 2023), Promoting Rule of Law for Sustainable Development (Glenwood, Nairobi, January 2024) and Actualizing the Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment (Glenwood, Nairobi, January 2024)*

Environment has been defined as all the physical, chemical and biological factors external to a person, and all the related behaviour. It has also been defined as the whole complex of climatic, adaptic and biotic factors that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form or survival; the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life on an individual or a community.

In Kenya, the environment has been defined to include the physical factors of the surroundings of human beings including land, water, atmosphere, climate, sound, odour, taste, the biological factors of animals and plants and the social factor of aesthetics and includes both the natural and the built environment. The environment is crucial for the survival of human beings since it contains all the ingredients that sustain life including air, water, soil, food among others.

As a result, the relationship between human beings and the environment is worth considering. 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 result in concerns such as pollution, environmental degradation, destruction of ecosystems and loss of biodiversity which threaten environmental sustainability which threaten the attainment of human rights.

It has been pointed that that the destruction of lifesustaining ecosystems, the pollution of the world’s water, land, and air, the inability to control the world’s wastes, and other related environmental problems prevent people from securing the minimum requisites for health and survival, thereby impeding and even prohibiting the effective exercise and enjoyment of human rights for much of the world’s population. As such, environmental protection and human rights are believed to be interrelated, interconnected, and mutually responsive as both of them are directed towards securing the well-being of humanity, with safe and healthy environment being the pre-condition for the enjoyment of fundamental human rights.

In order to realize this ideal, the concept of Sustainable Development was born. Sustainable Development has been defined as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It combines elements such as environmental protection, economic development and social concerns. The right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a fundamental human right within the Sustainable Development agenda. Indeed, it has been observed that human beings are at the centre of concerns for sustainable development and are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which was adopted by member states of the United Nations in 2015 represents a shared blue print for peace and prosperity for people and the planet in the quest towards the ideal of Sustainable Development. At the heart of the Sustainable Development Agenda are 17 Sustainable Development Goals which seek to strike a balance between social, economic and environmental sustainability.

The right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment encompasses various elements including clean and balanced ecosystems, rich biodiversity and a stable climate. This right recognises that nature is a keystone of a dignified human existence. A safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is considered to be integral to the full enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation. It has been observed that thriving ecosystems are important for provision of clean water and air, yield seafood and pollinators, and soaking up greenhouse gases.

The right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is an essential human rights that has been equated to the right to life. Since the environment contains virtually all ingredients required to sustain human beings, a threat to the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment could potentially hinder attainment of other rights such as the right to food, water, health and sanitation among others.

Critics of the human approach towards this right have argued that it centralises human concerns in the environmental governance agenda to the detriment of non-human elements of nature. Further, it has been pointed out that classifying the right as a human right denotes an ‘economically charged’ idea of the environment as no more than resources that are meant to be exploited, managed and conserved for their instrumental value to humans.

In addition, it has been pointed out that nature and human beings are radically separate entities and there is need to acknowledge this difference in order to promote sound environmental management and conservation through wildlife conservation, pollution control, waste management and climate change mitigation among other measures. Consequently, this approach advocates for an ecological approach towards the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

On the other hand, it has been argued that there is need to view the environment as an interconnectedness of nature and an integrated whole, with humans being only part thereof in order to embrace the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right. The right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment has been classified under the ‘third generation rights’ or ‘solidarity rights.’ Thus, just like all other ‘third-generation’ rights- the right to clean, healthy and sustainable environment calls for collective action and cooperation from all persons in taking care of the environment.

It has been pointed out that the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment encapsulates both procedural and substantive elements. The procedural elements of the right to clean, healthy and sustainable environment are access to information, public participation, and access to justice or effective remedies. The substantive elements include clean air, a safe climate, access to safe water and adequate sanitation, healthy and sustainably produced food, non-toxic environments in which to live, work, study and play, and healthy biodiversity and ecosystems.

The importance of this right became more recently pronounced when United Nations General Assembly recognized the right to a clean, heathy and sustainable environment as a human right. It is thus evident that there is need to embrace the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a fundamental right and a prerequisite for full enjoyment of all the other rights. It is a right, crucial for the realisation of the first and second generation rights. Realizing the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is integral in achieving Sustainable Development.

*This is an extract from Kenya’s First Clean and Healthy Environment Book: Actualizing the Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment (Glenwood, Nairobi, January 2024) by Hon. Prof.  Kariuki Muigua, OGW, PhD, Professor of Environmental Law and Dispute Resolution, Senior Advocate of Kenya, Chartered Arbitrator, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya), African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, Africa ADR Practitioner of the Year 2022, Member of National Environment Tribunal (NET) Emeritus (2017 to 2023) and Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration nominated by Republic of Kenya and Academic Champion of ADR 2024. Prof. Kariuki Muigua is a foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert in Kenya. Prof. Kariuki Muigua teaches Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law, The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP) and Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies. He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Prof. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates and Africa Trustee Emeritus of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators 2019-2022. Prof. Muigua is a 2023 recipient of President of the Republic of Kenya Order of Grand Warrior (OGW) Award for his service to the Nation as a Distinguished Expert, Academic and Scholar in Dispute Resolution and recognized among the top 5 leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts in Band 1 in Kenya by the Chambers Global Guide 2024 and was listed in the Inaugural THE LAWYER AFRICA Litigation Hall of Fame 2023 as one of the Top 50 Most Distinguished Litigation Lawyers in Kenya and the Top Arbitrator in Kenya in 2023.

 

References

  1. Gearty, ‘Do Human Rights Help or Hinder Environmental Protection?’ Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, No. 7 of 2010.

Coker, A.O,. “Environmental Pollution: Types, Causes, Impacts and Management for the Health and SocioEconomic Well-Being of Nigeria,” p.1. Available at https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/8e7b/a9595bab30d7ea87715533353c53f7452811.pdf (Accessed on 23/06/2023).

Environmental Management and Co-Ordination Act, No. 8 of 1999, Laws of Kenya.

Fitzmaurice. M., ‘The Principle of Sustainable Development in International Development Law.’ International Sustainable Development Law., Vol 1.

IISD., ‘UNGA Recognizes Human Right to Clean, Healthy, and Sustainable Environment.’ Available at https://sdg.iisd.org/news/unga-recognizes-human-right-to-clean-healthy-and-sustainableenvironment/ (Accessed on 23/06/2023).

  1. Bosselmann, ‘Losing the Forest for the Trees: Environmental Reductionism in the Law’ Sustainability, No. 2 of 2010.

Knox JH, ‘Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Issue of Human Rights Obligations Relating to the Enjoyment of a Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment: Biodiversity Report’ [2017] United Nations Human Rights Council, A/HRC/34/49.

McClymonds JT, ‘Human Right to a Healthy Environment: An International Legal Perspective, The’ (1992) 37 New York Law School Law Review 583.

Muigua. K., ‘Multinational Corporations, Investment and Natural Resource Management in Kenya.’ Available at http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Multinational-Corporations-Investmentand-Natural-Resource-Management-in-Kenya-Kariuki-Muigua-November-2018.pdf (Accessed on 23/06/2023).

Muigua. K., ‘Recognising a Human Right to Safe, Healthy and Sustainable Environment.’ Available at http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Recognising-a-Human-Right-to-Safe-Healthy-andSustainable-Environment-Kariuki-Muigua-1st-April-2021.pdf (Accessed on 22/06/2023).

Muigua. K., ‘Reconceptualising the Right to Clean and Healthy Environment in Kenya.’ Available at http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/RIGHT-TO-CLEAN-AND-HEALTHYENVIRONMENT-IN-KENYA.docx-7th-september-2015.pdf (Accessed on 22/06/2023).

Muigua. K., ‘Safeguarding the Environment through Effective Pollution Control in Kenya.’ Available at http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Safeguarding-the-Environment-through-EffectivePollution-Control-in-Kenya-Kariuki-Muigua-28th-SEPT-2019.pdf (Accessed on 23/06/2023).

Muigua. K., ‘The Role of Courts in Safeguarding Environmental Rights in Kenya: A Critical Appraisal.’ Available at http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/The-Role-of-Courts-in-Safeguarding Environmental-Rights-in-Kenya-A-Critical-Appraisal-Kariuki-Muigua-17th-January-2019-1.pdf (Accessed on 23/06/2023).

Muigua. K., ‘Utilising Science and Technology for Environmental Management in Kenya.’ Available at http://kmco.co.ke/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/Utilising-Science-and-Technology-for-EnvironmentalManagement-in-Kenya.pdf (Accessed on 22/06/2023).

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Nasike, C., “Enforce measures to curb water pollution,” Business Daily, Thursday, August 22, 2019. Available at https://www.businessdailyafrica.com/analysis/letters/Enforce-measures-to-curb-waterpollution/4307714-5245596- tdpn9y/index.html (Accessed on 23/06/2023).

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UNDP., ‘Sustainable Development Goal 1: No Poverty’ Available at https://www.undp.org/sustainable-development-goals/nopoverty?gclid=EAIaIQobChMInJ6Ezb_Z_wIVvEeRBR2lwQ02EAAYAiAAEgK4TvD _BwE (Accessed on 23/06/2023).

UNDP., ‘Sustainable Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.’ Available at https://www.undp.org/sustainable-development-goals/responsible-consumption-andproduction?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIidu71LPZ_wIV1vGyCh2q7wFJEAAYASAAEgIObfD_BwE (Accessed on 23/06/2023).

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World Health Organization., ‘Preventing Disease through Healthy Environments.’ (World Health Organization, Geneva, 2006)

Zimmer K, ‘The Human Right That Benefits Nature’ https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20210316how-the-human-right-to-a-healthy-environment-helps-nature  (Accessed on 22/06/2023).

News & Analysis

What is Carbon Markets?

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Written by Faith Nyambura Kabora, Advocate.

Carbon markets are a mechanism designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions which are essentially gases that trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to the negative impacts of climate change such as prolonged drought and rising of sea levels.

Carbon markets operate on the principle of putting a price on carbon emissions to create commercial/economic incentives for public and private entities to reduce their carbon footprint and invest in cleaner, sustainable practices.

Ideally, by putting a price on carbon, the carbon markets encourage sustainable environmental practices and help counties meet their emission reduction targets under international treaties, like the Paris Agreement, which Kenya is a signatory to. For a broader understanding, here is how a carbon market works;

  1. A Government establishes a limit on the total amount of greenhouse gas emission/pollution is allowed within its geographical limits;
  2. A grant, say permissions are created and distributed to eligible participants. This allowance represents the right to emit a certain amount of greenhouse gas;
  3. The participants can then buy and sell the allowances. Ideally, those who reduce their emissions more efficiently sell their surplus allowance to those who find it more challenging to reduce the emissions. If a company pollutes a lot, they need to buy more permissions, and if they do not pollute as much, they can sell their extra permissions.
  4. Entities are required to hold enough allowances to cover their actual emissions. If they exceed allocated allowances, they face penalties or, as expounded above, they buy additional allowances. This is the part where compliance becomes mandatory for all the key players.
  5. The price of the allowances fluctuates based on supply and demands and reflects the cost of emitting greenhouse gases. It is essentially like paying for pollution.

A carbon market plays a pivotal role in advancing climate action and promoting sustainable practices by incentivizing companies to reconsider their pollution practices, which can result in financial consequences as pollution becomes a costly endeavor. In Kenya, the introduction of a Carbon Market is imperative as the world confronts the dire consequences of climate change. Furthermore, it offers a commercial opportunity for investors considering the growing demand for environmentally friendly and carbon neutral products and services.

As mentioned above, the Paris Agreement is one of the most important international treaties dedicated strengthen global response to the negative impact of climate change. Ultimately, the Agreement’s goal is to motivate countries to limit global emissions and more importantly, to hold them accountable for their actions around reducing their carbon footprints.

Kenya as a signatory to the Paris Agreement has made significant contributions towards fulfilling the obligations under the Paris Agreement of limiting global temperature. The Climate Change (Amendment) Act 2023, nudges Kenya towards the realization of Article 6 of the Paris Agreement by introducing provisions and regulation of and participation in carbon markets.

As one of the top law firms in Nairobi, MMA Advocates is renowned for its proactive strategy and innovative legal lawyer advice. Our firm is committed to delivering strategic assistance that not only tackles current difficulties but also equips clients for future legal trends and advancements. As top lawyers in Nairobi Kenya, we take great satisfaction in our ability to combine in-depth legal knowledge with creative problem-solving. We keep a close eye on business trends and legal advancements to deliver timely guidance that enables our clients to make wise choices.

Our main goal as MMA Advocates is to establish long-lasting partnerships based on integrity, decency, and reliability. Since every client’s circumstance is unique, our best advocates in Kenya offer timely service and individualized attention at every stage of our collaboration. We make sure our clients are informed and empowered throughout their legal journey because we value openness and transparency in communication. In every case we take on, we are deeply committed to obtaining positive results and client satisfaction. This is just one aspect of our unwavering commitment to quality.

Whether you are a startup negotiating regulatory obstacles, an established corporation expanding, or a private citizen seeking legal assistance on personal problems, our Best Corporate Lawyers in Kenya are dedicated to becoming your legal partner. Our expertise include Commercial Litigation, Real Estate & Development, Fintech, Public Procurement (Public Private Partnerships), Project Finance, Public Law Litigation, Legal Audits & Compliance Advisory and Crisis Management.

We hope to arm you with the legal know-how and strategies needed to achieve your objectives. Our team enjoys taking on challenging legal matters with creativity and strategic understanding, protecting your rights and effectively achieving your goals. With a thorough comprehension of both regional laws and global norms, we are prepared to confidently and competently lead you through the complexities of corporate law.

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To find out more about how MMA Advocates in Nairobi Kenya can help you with your legal issues, get in touch with us. With our team of committed professionals and our standing as one of the top law firms in Nairobi, we are well-positioned to offer outcomes that surpass expectations and guarantee your success in a legal environment that is always changing.

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Review: Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Journal, Volume 12(3), 2024

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The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Journal, Volume. 12, No.3, 2024 covers pertinent and emerging issues across all ADR mechanisms. This volume exposes our readers to a variety of salient topics and concerns in ADR including Building Peace in Africa, Public Policy as a Ground of Setting-Aside an Arbitral Award, Ethics, Integrity and Best Practice in Mediation, Accessing Justice in Kenya, Sports Arbitration, ESG Arbitration, Arbitration of Investor-State Dispute in Kenya, Article 159(2) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and issuance of interim measures by Arbitral Tribunals. The ADR Journal is a publication of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, Kenya Branch. It provides a platform for scholarly debate and in-depth investigations into both theoretical and practical questions in Alternative Dispute Resolution.

The journal is edited by Professor of Law at the University of Nairobi, Faculty of Law Hon Prof. Kariuki Muigua, a distinguished law scholar, an accomplished mediator and arbitrator with a Ph.D. in law from the University of Nairobi and widespread training and experience in both international and national commercial arbitration and mediation. Prof. Muigua is a Fellow of Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb)- Kenya chapter and also a Chartered Arbitrator. He is a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration, The Hague. He also serves as a member of the National Environment Tribunal. He has served as the Chartered Institute of Arbitrator’s (CIArb- UK) Regional Trustee for Africa from 2019 -2022.

In the paper “Building Peace in Africa through Alternative Dispute Resolution”  Hon. Prof. Kariuki Muigua critically discusses the role of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms in peace building in Africa. The paper argues that ADR mechanisms can play a fundamental role in building peace in Africa. The paper further posits that ADR mechanisms are able to enhance sustainable peace in Africa due to their focus on reconciliation and restorative justice. It proposes solutions towards building peace in Africa through ADR.

In “the Emergence of the International Commercial Court: A Threat to Arbitration of Investor-State Dispute in Kenya” Marion Injendi Wasike and Dr. Kenneth W. Mutuma argue that the proliferation of international commercial courts, including their introduction in Kenya, necessitates a thorough analysis of their implications on arbitration’s role in investor-state disputes. By juxtaposing these emerging judicial entities against traditional arbitration paradigms, the discussion aims to unravel the complexities and potential shifts in dispute resolution preferences, highlighting the balance between innovation in legal adjudication and the sustenance of arbitration’s revered position in the international legal order.

Kamau Karori SC, MBS in “Striking a Balance: A Delicate Dance Between Sanctity and Scrutiny” notes that the continuing debate —between upholding the inviolability of arbitral awards and judicial intervention in cases of egregious injustice points to the need for delicate balancing between non-interference and the need to correct unmistakably unjust awards. The urgency of this discourse is informed by the need to prevent consumers or potential consumers of arbitration services opting to exclude arbitration clauses due to perceived deficiencies. The article seeks to navigate the genesis of the debate, delicately dissect the different perspectives, and draw comparisons with global practices.

The article “Reforming Kenya’s Law on Probation and Aftercare Services to Promote Alternative Dispute Resolution” by Michael Sang engages in a comprehensive exploration of Kenya’s Probation of Offenders Act within the context of the growing role of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) principles in the nation’s criminal justice system. Drawing inspiration from international legal instruments such as “The Beijing Rules,” “Bangkok Rules,” and “Tokyo Rules,” the study evaluates the Act’s provisions, strengths, and limitations. It concludes with a call for thoughtful reforms that align Kenya’s criminal justice system with international standards, emphasizing a balanced and compassionate approach to justice.

The “Upholding Ethics, Integrity and Best Practice in Mediation” by Hon. Prof. Kariuki Muigua, OGW critically discusses the need for standardization of mediation practice in Kenya by adopting best practices. It examines some of the challenges facing mediation practice in Kenya. It is also explores measures adopted towards fostering best practices in mediation at both the global and national level. The paper further suggests recommendations aimed at upholding ethics, integrity and best practice in mediation. In “Exploring the Role of Mediation in Promoting Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Fostering Economic Growth in Kenya” Atundo Wambare offers an in-depth analysis of the use of mediation in promoting the growth of small and medium enterprises (SME’s). He makes recommendations on how best mediation can be harnessed as a tool for economic growth in Kenya.

James Njuguna and Nyamboga George Nyanaro in “Compulsory Resolution or Autonomy Erosion? The Debate on Mandatory Sports Arbitration delve into the contentious issue of mandatory sports arbitration, questioning its role as a potential future pathway for dispute resolution. Their research examines the implications of compulsory arbitration on athletes’ autonomy, juxtaposing it with the benefits of expedited dispute resolution.

Paul Ngotho in “Constitution of Kenya 2010 Article 159.2.(c): Ancestry, Anatomy, Efficacy & Legacy” traces the rather odd origin and everlasting effect of the often-cited Article 159.2.(c) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. It acknowledges the central role played by two members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Kenya Branch, quietly and privately, away from the mainstream constitution making process. One of them chairman of the Branch, the other the Minister of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs.

David Onsare in “Navigating The ESG Maze: Emerging Trends in Arbitration and Corporate Accountability” embarks on a timely exploration of the dynamic interplay between Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors and arbitration, a field gaining critical importance in the realm of corporate accountability. By offering a comprehensive view of the complexities and practical implications of ESG in arbitration, the article serves as a crucial guide for legal professionals navigating the evolving landscape of corporate responsibility and arbitration. In “Public Policy as a Ground of Setting-Aside an Arbitral Award: Musings on the Centurion Engineers Civil Appeal Judgment”

Ibrahim Kitoo argues a case for upholding of public policy as a ground for the nonrecognition, non-enforcement and setting aside of an arbitral award in cases where to recognise and enforce such awards proves to be a clear violation of the law and against the public good. Juvenalis Ngowi in “Arbitral Tribunals: Do they have the power to issue interim measures during the proceedings?” discusses the powers of the Arbitral Tribunal to grant such orders and examines some procedural rules which empower arbitrators to issue such orders, the scope of those powers, and the factors to be considered when granting interim measures in the arbitral proceedings.

In “Examining the Efficacy of Mediation as A Tool for Accessing Justice in Kenya: Opportunities, Challenges, and Future Perspectives” Murithi Antony undertakes a thorough examination of mediation as a form of ADR in the Kenyan context. He identifies opportunities arising from the integration of mediation into the country’s legal system and explores barriers impeding its widespread adoption. The article concludes with a resounding call to action for all stakeholders to champion the use of mediation collaboratively and proactively, given its proven efficacy in dispute resolution.

Kariuki Muigua & Company Advocates is a Top-Tier Kenyan law firm situated at the heart of Nairobi city in Kenya. We are a broad-based practice with a reputation for offering a full range of quality services to our domestic and international clients.

At KM&CO, we take pride in offering personalized attention to our diverse clientele. Our practice aspires to offer efficient and cost-effective legal solutions that meet our esteemed clients’ needs in a timely and competent manner.

KM&CO was founded in 1993 by the current senior Advocate, Dr. Kariuki Muigua. It is based in the Central Business District of Nairobi at the Pioneer Assurance House located opposite 7th August Bomb Blast Memorial Park enjoying the convenience of close proximity to major financial, commercial and governmental institutions.

We are open for consultations with our clients worldwide; we have lawyers on standby for 24 hours to cover diverse time zones that impact on our global clients.

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Way Forward in Applying Collaborative Approaches Towards Conflict Management

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By Hon. Prof. Kariuki Muigua, OGW, PhD, C.Arb, FCIArb is a Professor of Environmental Law and Dispute Resolution at the University of Nairobi, Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration, Leading Environmental Law Scholar, Respected Sustainable Development Policy Advisor, Top Natural Resources Lawyer, Highly-Regarded Dispute Resolution Expert and Awardee of the Order of Grand Warrior (OGW) of Kenya by H.E. the President of Republic of Kenya. He is the Academic Champion of ADR 2024, the African ADR Practitioner of the Year 2022, the African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, ADR Practitioner of the Year in Kenya 2021, CIArb (Kenya) Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 and ADR Publisher of the Year 2021 and Author of the Kenya’s First ESG Book: Embracing Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) tenets for Sustainable Development” (Glenwood, Nairobi, July 2023) and Kenya’s First Two Climate Change Law Book: Combating Climate Change for Sustainability (Glenwood, Nairobi, October 2023), Achieving Climate Justice for Development (Glenwood, Nairobi, October 2023), Promoting Rule of Law for Sustainable Development (Glenwood, Nairobi, January 2024) and Actualizing the Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment (Glenwood, Nairobi, March 2024)*

It is necessary to embrace and utilize collaborative approaches in managing conflicts. These techniques include mediation, negotiation, and facilitation. These mechanisms are effective in managing conflicts since they encourage parties to embrace and address disagreements through empathy and listening towards mutually beneficial solutions. Collaborative approaches also have the potential to preserve relationships, build trust, and promote long term positive change. They also ensure a win-win solution is found so that everyone is satisfied which creates the condition for peace and sustainability. These approaches are therefore ideal in managing conflicts. It is therefore important to embrace collaborative approaches in order to ensure effective management of conflicts.

In addition, it is necessary for third parties including mediators and facilitators to develop their skills and techniques in order to enhance the effectiveness of collaborative approaches towards conflict management. For example, it has correctly been observed that mediators and facilitators should listen actively and empathetically in order to assist parties to collaborate towards managing their dispute. Therefore, when a dispute arises, the first step should involve listening to all parties involved with an open mind and without judgment. This should entail active listening, which means paying attention to both verbal and nonverbal cues and acknowledging the emotions and perceptions involved.

It has been observed that by listening empathetically, a third party such as a mediator of facilitator can understand each person’s perspective and start to build a foundation for resolving the conflict through collaboration. In addition, while collaborating towards conflict management, it is necessary to encourage and help parties to focus on interests and not positions. It has been pointed out that focusing positions can result in a standstill which can delay or even defeat the conflict management process. However, by identifying and addressing the underlying interests parties can find common ground and collaborate towards coming up with creative solutions towards their conflict.

Mediators and facilitators should also assist parties to look for areas of agreement or shared goals. Identifying a common ground can build momentum and create a positive environment for resolving the conflict. Further, in order to ensure the effectiveness of collaborative approaches in conflict management, it is necessary to build strong collaboration. It has been asserted that strong collaboration can be achieved by establishing a shared purpose, cultivating trust among parties, encouraging active participation by all parties, and promoting effective communication.

Strong collaboration enables parties to develop trust between and among themselves and strengthen communication channels between the various parties. It also helps to generate inclusive solutions that arise from wider stakeholders’ views. Therefore while applying collaborative approaches, it is necessary for parties to foster strong collaboration by identifying common goals, building trust, ensuring that all stakeholders are involved, and communicating effectively in order to come up with win-win outcomes.

Finally, while embracing collaborative approaches in conflict management, it is necessary for parties to consider seeking help from third parties if need arises. For example, negotiation is always the first point of call whenever a conflict arises whereby parties attempt to manage their conflict without the involvement of third parties. It has been described as the most effective collaborative approach towards conflict management since it starts with an understanding by both parties that they must search for solutions that satisfy everyone.

It enables parties to a dispute to come together to openly discuss the issue causing tension, actively listen to each other, and come up with mutually satisfactory solutions. However, it has been correctly observed that negotiation may fail especially if the conflict is particularly complex or involves multiple parties due to challenges in collaborating. In such circumstances, where negotiation fails, parties should consider resorting to other collaborative approaches such as mediation and facilitation where they attempt to manage the conflict with the help of a third party. A mediator or facilitator can assist parties to collaborate and continue with the negotiations and ultimately break the deadlock.

*This is an extract from Kenya’s First Clean and Healthy Environment Book: Actualizing the Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment (Glenwood, Nairobi, January 2024) by Hon. Prof.  Kariuki Muigua, OGW, PhD, Professor of Environmental Law and Dispute Resolution, Senior Advocate of Kenya, Chartered Arbitrator, Kenya’s ADR Practitioner of the Year 2021 (Nairobi Legal Awards), ADR Lifetime Achievement Award 2021 (CIArb Kenya), African Arbitrator of the Year 2022, Africa ADR Practitioner of the Year 2022, Member of National Environment Tribunal (NET) Emeritus (2017 to 2023) and Member of Permanent Court of Arbitration nominated by Republic of Kenya and Academic Champion of ADR 2024. Prof. Kariuki Muigua is a foremost Environmental Law and Natural Resources Lawyer and Scholar, Sustainable Development Advocate and Conflict Management Expert in Kenya. Prof. Kariuki Muigua teaches Environmental Law and Dispute resolution at the University of Nairobi School of Law, The Center for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy (CASELAP) and Wangari Maathai Institute for Peace and Environmental Studies. He has published numerous books and articles on Environmental Law, Environmental Justice Conflict Management, Alternative Dispute Resolution and Sustainable Development. Prof. Muigua is also a Chartered Arbitrator, an Accredited Mediator, the Managing Partner of Kariuki Muigua & Co. Advocates and Africa Trustee Emeritus of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators 2019-2022. Prof. Muigua is a 2023 recipient of President of the Republic of Kenya Order of Grand Warrior (OGW) Award for his service to the Nation as a Distinguished Expert, Academic and Scholar in Dispute Resolution and recognized among the top 5 leading lawyers and dispute resolution experts in Band 1 in Kenya by the Chambers Global Guide 2024 and was listed in the Inaugural THE LAWYER AFRICA Litigation Hall of Fame 2023 as one of the Top 50 Most Distinguished Litigation Lawyers in Kenya and the Top Arbitrator in Kenya in 2023.

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Kariuki Muigua & Company Advocates is a Top-Tier Kenyan law firm situated at the heart of Nairobi city in Kenya. We are a broad-based practice with a reputation for offering a full range of quality services to our domestic and international clients.

At KM&CO, we take pride in offering personalized attention to our diverse clientele. Our practice aspires to offer efficient and cost-effective legal solutions that meet our esteemed clients’ needs in a timely and competent manner.

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