Cape Town, South Africa, Tuesday, March 8, 2016: Judges of the COMESA Court of Justice have completed a training programme aimed at deepening their understanding of regional integration and dispute settlement as they adjudicate on trade and investment issues in the region.
Sponsored by the Trade Law Centre (TRALAC) a non-profit making capacity-building organization, the eight months old Bench went through intensive two-day training in international trade law and policy and dispute resolution within regional economic communities. The training took place at the University of Cape Town, South Africa 7-8 March 2016.
As Judge President of the Court Justice Lombe P. Chibesakunda observed during the opening of the training, COMESA Court judges are appointed from different legal/judicial backgrounds to find themselves thrust into the realm of regional and international trade law and policy.
“While this is not to say that we have not, in one way or another encountered disputes that would fall into this realm, the fact is that, as Judges of a regional Court, we must not only understand the environment in which we are dispensing justice, but must also equip ourselves with the necessary knowledge and skills,” the Judge President observed.
She said it was extremely important for the judges to gain a sound understanding of regional integration and dispute settlement hence the training will have a great impact on the quality and relevance of jurisprudence that will emanate from the Court.
Justice Chibesakunda expressed gratitude to the TRALAC team for the generous contribution it was making towards capacity building in regional integration especially to the COMESA Court judges. These include;
“The rights granted under the free movement of goods, services and people policies and how the Court interprets the COMESA Treaty and/or decisions, directives of Council of Ministers or the Authority (of Heads of State) when there is an allegation of breach. This is in addition to what the Tripartite Free Trade Area entails and how this will impact the work of the Court.”
The training was conducted by TRALAC team led by Executive Director, Ms. Trudi Hartzenberg and Prof. Gerhard Erasmus.
The Court President confirmed an invitation from TRALAC to the judges to attend its annual conference in Namibia in April 2016.
The COMESA Court of Justice is the judicial organ of COMESA whose core function is to adjudicate upon all disputes between Member States that would arise from the interpretation and application of the COMESA Treaty.