Conflict is inevitable in human society, but the overly rigid process of litigation led to the development of alternatives to the court system in reaching amicable settlements between disputing parties. Nowadays this more informal process of ADR is not limited to arbitration, conciliation, mediation and negotiation, and allows parties to resolve a wide variety of differences without resorting to court.
All around Africa ADR is gradually gaining ground, and as a result students at African university campuses are developing a keen interest in the field, with many planning to build their future careers in ADR, but there’s still a need for more specific training.
Ngosong Emmanuel Florian, an ADR expert and associate attorney at Muhodari Nest Lex Fori Advocates and Partners in Rwanda, believes that, “In order for arbitration to consolidate its already advanced established progress in Africa, developments must be carried out on all fronts, starting from campuses in African universities. Apart from providing legislative evaluation on how to better draft laws so as to promote and facilitate ADR, there’s the need to better train and develop arbitrators and conciliators from African states with international standards. This could be done by introducing commercial arbitration and conciliation as subjects in more universities and other African institutions.”
The Director of Research of the ADR Society at the University of Ilorin, Precious Sophia Onuabuchi, says students are now exposed to ADR beyond theoretical concepts. “They have more accurate information, and beyond the University of Ilorin, many students have been responsive to the activities of ADR societies and clubs. The organisation of local competitions and involvement in international competitions has enabled students to experience the hypothetical practicality of ADR proceedings and this experience can be strengthened through internships, conferences and off campus training in order to build a generation in Africa better versed with arbitration techniques,and skills.”
Catherine Amadasun, AICMC, president of the National Association of ADR Societies in Nigeria, commented that “ADR has become an integral part of the legal profession and landscape in the 21st Century, and the acquisition of requisite skills to gain relevance in the industry has gradually encouraged the inclusivity of ADR as a core component in the curriculum of the law student degree. As the growth and trends of ADR increase, the importance of early student engagement and development for professional growth becomes necessary.”
She believes that students who develop an interest in ADR early tend to benefit over others because they have a better ability to evaluate and constructively analyse dispute situations, tend to have more efficient and effective communication skills along with a higher emotional intelligence quotient. These, she says, “are core alternative dispute resolution skills, particularly for mediation and negotiation advocacy”.
Various institutions are making efforts to provide extra avenues of study in ADR for African students. These include the creation of certified training courses by prominent ADR institutions such as the Institute of Chartered Mediators and Conciliators (ICMC). Other institutions, like the Nigerian Institute of Chartered Arbitrators (NICArb), are offering student membership and education programmes for university undergraduates.
London International Disputes Week 2023 runs from 15 to 19 May and is all about dispute resolution. For further information and to register for the in-person or online event, click here.
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