Name of arbitrator practitioner:
International Law LL.B and International Law LL.M from UK
- Obama Foundation Leader (Africa) 2019
- Brandon Research Fellow at the Lauterpacht Centre, University of Cambridge
- Weinstein JAMS Fellow for ADR 2017
Name of law firm or institution:
Federal Government of Somalia
Area(s) of specialisation:
International Trade, International Commercial Arbitration, Investor – State Arbitration, Public International Law
- Panel Member, ICSID Panels
- SIAC representative for Africa
What influenced your interest in arbitration?
My passion for arbitration was ignited during my postgraduate studies at SOAS. I had a fantastic lecturer (Dr. Emilia Onyema) who challenged me to have a bipartisan and holistic approach to disputes. Now that I work in government, this type of teaching has helped shape me because I represent a State.
Is there any dispute you have worked on or notable event or project that you will like to share?
Somalia’s arbitration reform work. I worked with a number of international arbitration practitioners like Ilham Kabbouri, Baiju Vasani, Jonathan Lim, Guled Yusuf and Gary Born from 2016 to present day. Together, we have drafted Somalia’s arbitration bill and have worked on getting Somalia on the road to ratifying the NY convention. The jurisdiction of Somalia was shortlisted under the best development category for the 2017 GAR Awards.
As Somalia’s Chief Negotiator to the World Trade Organization (WTO), what do you think African states can do to encourage investment and trade within Africa?
First, we need to focus on boosting intra-Africa Trade, particularly through the AfCFTA and other regional economic communities. Our cross border trade statistics are abysmal and we need to first trade better amongst each other before we can trade outside of the continent.
Secondly, it is imperative to increase our value chains. Too often, we are exporting raw materials and buying the processed and manufactured product right back from countries in the west. Just as there needs to be a focus on strong legal institutions, it is also key that African states can have developed manufacturing industries and best practices. Rwanda is a prime example of investing in your own and creating a new self-sufficient path.
What do you think can be done to make African states more attractive arbitration seats?
Right now, there is a proliferation of arbitration institutions. We must remember that most are private institutions. To match the development, it’s important that African states can update, and in some cases create, the appropriate legislative framework to ensure that awards can be enforced and investors have peace of mind knowing the judiciary is fully independent.
Do you have any mentors in the field of arbitration? What impact have they had on your career?
I have many mentors. I would not be where I am without them. All of them have encouraged me to push the envelope and take risks.
What advice do you have for other young arbitration practitioners?
I would say that you need to always do your research, know when to ask for help and be true to yourself.
You must always be open to asking to be mentored and should never take your mentor’s time for granted. I have many peers who went to corporate firms because they felt it was the right thing to do but years later decided to go into public service or an international organisation. If you’ve wanted to work at the UN, then do it. Don’t think that the only way you can be successful or to make a difference is to work only in the private sector.