Private International Law in Africa: Past, Present and Future

Richard Oppong (Lancaster Law School) has written an article on “Private International Law in Africa: Past, Present and Future” in the latest issue of the American Journal of Comparative Law ((2007) 55 AJCL 677-719.) Here’s the abstract:

The development of private international law has stagnated in Africa for some time now. This is reflected in the neglected and undeveloped state of the subject, and the near absence of Africa in international processes, academic forums, writings, and institutions that have significance for the subject. This article explores the present and future state of the subject in Africa by situating it in a historical context. It challenges the often unarticulated assumption of writers on private international law in Africa that the subject and issues it addresses came to Africa only after the advent of colonization. It suggests that although the specific rules may be difficult to ascertain, conflict of laws problems existed in pre-colonial Africa and were, consistent with current theories on pre-modern societies, addressed by a mixture of practices and mechanisms that tended towards conflicts avoidance and lex forism. It notes that during the colonial period the subject developed without any clear theoretical underpinnings, was deployed to fulfil narrow political and commercial goals, and was largely insulated from international developments. The article argues that a new dawn is rising in which the subject will occupy a prominent place with regard to many issues in Africa. It examines how an emerging academic interest in the subject, current economic integration initiatives, harmonization of laws, drive to promote trade and investment, constitutionalism and human rights, and other developments will impact private international law in Africa.

Available to AJCL subscribers.