Guest Lecture: A Lesson on Just Settlement of International Disputes by Justice Ugirashebuja
On 16 March 2021, the third-year stream had the pleasure of receiving a guest lecture by Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja. Dr. Ugirashebuja is the Emeritus President of the East African Court of Justice where he had served since 2014 before which he had been appointed as a Judge of Appeal at the Appellate division of the East African Court of Justice in 2013. In his early career, Justice Ugirashebuja has also served as the Dean of the Law School of University of Rwanda. He has also served in the capacity of Legal Advisor to the Rwanda Environmental Authority and the Rwandan Constitution Commission. He is also an expert arbitrator who has arbitrated at both national and international levels. It is from this robust experience that the third-year class got to learn from.
Given the nature of Justice Ugirashebuja’s prior role as the President of the East African Court of Justice (EACJ), it seemed only fitting that he gave us this lecture on the peaceful settlement of international disputes. The lecture was therefore fine-tuned in accordance with his six years of experience in the EACJ and his many years of practical experience within the field and realm of international law.
Having distinguished the different forms of settlement of disputes as occasioning diplomatic and adjudicative means (as well as institutional), the main topics covered in the latter were the three different types of jurisdiction. These being jurisdiction ratione personae, jurisdiction ratione materiae and jurisdiction ratione tempore. Within each section, we were elaborately taken through how the aspects of subject matter, time and locus standi form a pivotal part of determining jurisdiction in all international courts- without which the case would not be able to continue.
Justice Ugirashebuja’s lecture was filled with rich examples of case law that he skillfully weaved in throughout the different topics explored. This was especially prominent when the practical procedure for application for a case was discussed, wherein we were elegantly taken through the structure behind the general case process in all international law courts. Of particular notice was the discussion on the Kenya and Somalia Maritime Dispute in the International Court of Justice- a riveting, current issue that solidified the otherwise abstract principles of international law within our minds.
The lecture thereafter concluded on a brief discussion of diplomatic methods of settlement- including negotiation, inquiry and the use of good offices- of which we found that Kenya and Somalia had engaged in out of court diplomatic methods of settlement before they chose to embark on adjudicative methods of dispute resolution in the ICJ for the determination of their case.
The lecture was, to say the least informative and illuminating. We learnt about how international disputes are settled- with particular attention paid to the International Court of Justice and the East African Court of Justice. These regional and international courts play a big part in the maintenance of peace and the resolution of disputes and the lecture provided many insights on how these courts work. The lecture has strengthened our resolve to continuously put effort towards our paths of being the next litigators and judges in the national, regional and international spheres.
This article has been written by Tasneem Pirbhai, Nduta Muhindi and Ryan Mwaniki, all third year students of the LLB class- Barristers.