21st Century International Foundations for a 21st Century African Continent

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In recent decades, the emergence and development of international law has taken various shapes within the African continent. Most notably, states have begun reconstructing their legal regimes using regional organizations, aiming to create supranational entities that better represent their collective interests and aspirations globally. Amongst the numerous groups, no regional organization has been more successful than the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (“OHADA” – derived from the French translation). Embodying 17 member states, OHADA not only contributes to the making of international law within Africa, but plays a valuable role in its ongoing fruition. OHADA’s value can be showcased by its systematic effectiveness and singularity. Furthermore, OHADA’s legal achievements create pertinent opportunities in a region vying for a path forward. Firstly, OHADA’s framework maintains a distinct legal structure built on efficacy. Ever since its founding in 1993, OHADA focused solely on the field of business law and harmonizing such laws across mostly Francophone countries in western and central Africa. The 1993 Treaty split the organization into four bodies, with the Council of Ministers and Common Court of Justice and Arbitration (“CCJA”) being most significant. The former consists of Justice and Finance ministers of each member state who are charged with crafting Uniform Acts applicable to all members; the latter reserves the final say adjudicating on OHADA legal matters. The structure is unique amongst most African regional organizations because of how much power is delegated to OHADA’s institutions. Member states’ national legislatures have no input in the law-making process. Instead, states must abide automatically to each of the Uniform Acts following their promulgation. Likewise, the CCJA...