- Current context
The recognition of the role and importance of public international law in global relations has motivated the establishment in various parts of the world of academic institutions and professional societies dedicated to international law thinking. In Africa, this trend is also well noticeable. Among major continental initiatives, it is worthwhile naming the creation of African Association of International Law (AAIL) in 1986; the African Foundation of International Law (AFIL) established in 2003; and the African Institute of International Law (AIIL), recently set-up in collaboration with the Government of Tanzania and with the support of the African Union. All these institutions were set up with the mandate to contribute to the research, study and dissemination of international law in Africa and to stress African perspectives of international law.
- Problem Statement
Despite the progress achieved in increasing academic knowledge and awareness of international law in Africa, the gap is still very huge between international law theory and the actual practice by States and other African subjects and actors of international law. The gap is evidenced, among others, by the following findings:
- Insufficient inspiration from international law for national public policy-making: experience has shown that in many African countries, public policies and public decision-making are generally inadequately relying on, or taking benefit of, relevant rules of public international law. This is for example true concerning the formulation of national trade and investment policies.
- Limited awareness of the impact of internationally contracted obligations on States’ internal behavior: there is also strong evidence where the practice of some African States has sometimes been inconsistent with their international obligations and where such inconsistency has sometimes led to unnecessary disputes and condemnation of the States to pay damages. This is particularly true in the field of international investment law where certain undertakings in international investment agreements have sometimes produced undesirable effects for signatory States.
- Limited capacity for negotiation of specialized international legal instruments: African States are often in significant disadvantage when negotiating treaties in certain specialized fields of international law, including international environment law, international trade and investment treaties. The body of specialized knowledge required for effective negotiation of these treaties is insufficiently accessible to chief negotiators.
- Insufficient contribution to international law making: timely, effective and aggressive participation in international law making process is required from African States for ensuring, among others, that rules of international law duly take into account their interests and particularities. While it is true that African States actively contribute in the process for elaboration of international public policies and legal instruments through diplomatic channels (embassies, permanent representations to international organizations), it is equally true that such contribution often ignore proper and scientific impact assessments techniques. On the other side, a more effective contribution to international law making process would require African States to adopt proactive attitude to impulse the adoption of public international rules protective of their interests.
- Inadequate self-representation in international disputes resolution fora: evidence has shown that public/judicial entities entrusted with the mandate to represent and defend African States are often lacking the capacity to self-represent their governments before international courts and arbitral tribunals.
- The solution
The above context has dictated the establishment of ACILP as an international law policy research organization and think tank to fill existing gaps.