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A Ugandan Chapter of the International Law Association Launched

On Friday, May 26, 2017, hundreds of law students and lawyers with interest in international law gathered at the School of Law, Makerere University, to witness the launch of the Ugandan Chapter of the International Law Association (ILA). This Chapter alsodoubles as the International Law Cluster of the Uganda Law Society.

ILA Uganda was formed in 2016, by a group of Ugandan lawyers with expertise and interest in international law under the stewardship of Makerere Law Don, Dr. Busingye Kabumba, the founding President. Other members of the Executive Council of ILA Uganda include: Mr. Brian Kibirango, the Honorary Secretary, Ms. Christine Kellen Namutebi, the Treasurer and Mr. Nimrod Muhumuza, the Publicity Secretary.

ILA was founded in Brussels in 1873 to undertake the study, clarification and development of international law, both public and private, and the furtherance of international understanding and respect for international law. The ILA has consultative status, as an international non-governmental organization, with a number of the United Nations specialized agencies, and is currently the preeminent international non-governmental organization involved in developing and restating international law.

The idea of a Ugandan Chapter of ILA was born out of a need to further the above objectives by creating a space for Ugandan and African lawyers to engage in international law discussions on matters concerning Africa, which had hitherto been dominated by foreigners from without Africa. For this reason, the launch of ILA Uganda was conducted as a double event alongside a Keynote presentationon the theme: ‘Africa and its place in the International Legal Order: The Ugandan Case’.

The keynote address for the symposium was given by Mr. Francis Gimara, Esq, the President of the Uganda Law Society (ULS) who stressed the need for Africans to wake up and organise in order to meaningfully participate in international law discussions in which he said, Africans have for long not adequately engaged yet the resolutions from such discussions have had enduring negative effects on Africa.

This, he noted, is expressed in the various rules made by organs such as the World Trade Organisation, International Labour Organisation, World Bank among others, all of which have only denied Africa “leverage of what is obviously our comparative advantage.” According to Gimara, if the international legal order is to benefit Africans, Africans must participate in negotiations for a better deal at such platforms through adequate representation. He noted that the Ugandan Chapter of the International Law Association would, in Uganda’s case, be a pool of lawyers/intellectuals from whom Uganda can choose representatives to negotiate on her behalf. He ended by pledging full support of the ULS towards the Chapter as well as the Cluster.

On the part of the students at Makerere University’s School of Law, Ms. Brenda Nabasa, the President of Makerere International Law Students Association (MILSA) and Mr. KansiimeMukamaTaremwa, President of the Makerere Law Society, welcomed the idea of the Uganda Chapter of International Law Association both as a mentorship opportunity for students interested in international law, which, they said, it is important for the students, lawyers, and judges to appreciate in order to contribute to positive development of Africa.

They also pledged to continue to work with and consult ILA Uganda on several issues concerning international law.

Prepared by: Brian Kibirango