Regional conference “Mediation in Africa” in Dakar

Participants in the regional conference in Dakar on the subject of “Mediation in Africa” in cooperation with the GIZ and the BRAK
Participants in the regional conference in Dakar on the subject of “Mediation in Africa” in cooperation with the GIZ and the BRAK

From 10 to 13 May 2022 the German Foundation for International Legal Cooperation (IRZ), together with the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the German Federal Bar (BRAK) held a regional conference in Dakar on the subject of “Mediation in Africa”.

The event was embedded in the GIZ’s regional project “Furthering rule of law and justice in Africa”, part of the G-20 initiative “Compact with Africa” for the promotion of private investment in Africa. Last year too, the IRZ worked with the GIZ to organise a regional conference in Dakar within the framework of this regional project.

The aim of the conference was to encourage an exchange of views and experiences between representatives of national legal institutions, practising mediators and public and non-public associations and chambers from different African countries. Participants from northern, southern, western and eastern Africa thus contributed to the strengthening of mediation at a national, regional and African level.

The participating states included Tunisia and Senegal, as well as Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. The conference therefore brought together public and non-public players from the national, regional and African levels and thus supported transnational dialogue for the establishment of mediation as an alternative form of dispute resolution.

Through the talks and subsequent discussions the participants addressed the following discussion topics during the four-day event:

  • The status quo of mediation in Germany and the participating African states
  • Improvements to the legal framework of mediation
  • The role of bar associations in furthering mediation
  • Mediation in business relationships
  • Mediation and peace dialogue
  • Mediation in the relationship between state and citizen
  • Selection, training and further training of mediators
  • National and regional certification programmes for mediators
  • Presentation of a GIZ study on mediation

In recent years, alternative dispute resolution procedures have gained in significance around the world. Increased use of mediation is leading to better access to justice. With the aid of mediation, conflicting parties can reach agreement “on an equal footing”. The procedure is a more cost-effective and faster way to resolve conflicts, eases the workload of ordinary courts and is particularly effective as a way of resolving family conflicts. Women in particular are therefore able to obtain better access to legal remedies.

The lively and intensive discussions during the four-day conference highlighted the great interest in regional networking for the purposes of comparison and working together to promote mediation and a regional exchange of knowledge.

The regional conference was held and partially financed by the IRZ within the framework of institutional funding by the Federal Ministry of Justice.

IRZ and GIZ organised the regional conference "Investment climate and legal framework in West Africa" in Dakar

Regional conference in cooperation with GIZ in Dakar on the subject of "Investment climate and legal framework in West Africa" (Image: Photo Cheikh Saya Diop, Dakar)

"Investment climate and legal framework in West Africa" was the topic of a regional conference in Dakar, which the IRZ organised with the Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), a governmental cooperation agency. The event took place from 6-7 December 2021 in a face-to-face format and was the first regional conference in cooperation between IRZ and GIZ with partner countries in Africa. It was embedded in the GIZ regional project “Promoting the rule of law and justice in Africa”, which is part of the G20 “Compact with Africa” initiative to promote private investment in Africa.

The regional conference therefore aimed to examine the current legal infrastructure in the area of investment and discussed ways of securing and continuing further foreign investment in West Africa and other countries on the African continent.

The participating African states of Senegal, Ivory Coast, Mauritania, Algeria and Tunisia sent representatives of the ministries of justice or the supreme court jurisdiction as experts to the conference. The host country Senegal was also represented by the Ministry of Economy and Planning, the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, the National Investment Agency (APIX), the employers' association, representatives of business court jurisdictions, the legal profession and the university sector. Finally, at the pan-African level, the Organisation for the Harmonisation of Business Law in Africa (Organisation pour l'Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires (OHADA)) and the African Centre for Administrative Training and Research for Development (Centre Africain de Formation et de Recherche Administratives pour le Développement) (CAFRAD) also attended the conference.

The IRZ managed to persuade the Director General of CAFRAD, Dr. Stéphane Monney Mouandjo to attend as a keynote speaker.

The following experts participated from Germany:

  • Riadh Khalil Hassanain, Federal Bar Association, Berlin
  • Yorck Diergarten, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, consultant in the VC3 foreign investments department, Paris Club

During the presentations and subsequent discussions, the experts and the participants addressed the national and international legal framework for investments in the region, the legal requirements to create incentives for international investments in the African participating states and in Germany and how to provide legal protection to the economic infrastructure of the countries and the investing companies. Investment disputes and options for dispute resolution were also discussed. The discussions also engaged in a critical examination of the existing international agreements on investment protection. Thanks to the comparative regional perspective, they specifically addressed potential synergy effects between the partner countries in the region.

Seminar on the Digitalisation of the Justice System with the Senegalese Ministry of Justice

Graphics: IRZ
Graphics: IRZ

On 5 May 2021, IRZ organised a joint online event with the Senegalese Ministry of Justice on the “Digitalisation of the Justice System in Criminal Proceedings in Germany and Senegal”. The seminar continued the exchange of experiences on the subject of the digitalisation of the justice system, which had begun in 2020, with the focus this time being on digitalisation processes in criminal proceedings and in prisons.

The effects of the Covid-19 pandemic in particular have clearly underlined the need to introduce a digital justice system. In the run-up to the event, discussions focussed on:

  • access to files and case information for all people concerned
  • the electronic archiving of documents
  • networking between the different judicial bodies and the departments of the Ministry of Justice, including prison services and other ministries concerned.

The event therefore looked at digitalisation trends in criminal proceedings in Germany and Senegal, as well as current developments in this area, such as remote proceedings and the digital questioning and hearing of witnesses. Another area of focus was the opportunities and challenges presented by digitalisation processes in prisons.

The following IRZ experts took part in the seminar:

  • Jasmin Kocak, a desk officer from division R B 2 “Criminal proceedings in courts of law” at the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection
  • Dr. Lars Bierschenk, a judge at the Regional Court of Bonn, assigned to the Central IT service of the Justice department for NRW (ITD) at the Higher Regional court of Cologne.
  • Pascal Décarpes, international consultant

The online event took place as part of the working programme on legal cooperation between the German Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection and the Senegalese Ministry of Justice. IRZ plans to continue its cooperation with the Senegalese justice system in this area and to cover further important subjects in the area of criminal law and the prison system.