Steps to Curb Illegal Capital Flight from Africa on SA’s First International Law Association Conference’s Agenda


Some estimate that as much as US$50 billion could be seeping out of Africa every year through illicit financial flows - draining foreign exchange reserves, decreasing tax collection, and worsening poverty and macro-economic conditions in the continent. One way to curtail this illegal capital flight would be to adopt laws, regulations and policies that promote transparent financial transactions, according to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Steps to curb illegal capital flight from Africa will be discussed at the upcoming 77th Biennial Conference of the International Law Association (ILA), held in South Africa for the first time from 7 to 11 August 2016 at the Sandton Convention Centre, Johannesburg. A report by the UN High Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa, chaired by former President Thabo Mbeki, will form the basis of the ILA Conference panel discussion looking at the colossal impact illegal capital flight has on Africa, and its threat to the continent’s governance and economic development.

Judge Navi Pillay, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and former Judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, will deliver the keynote address on 8 August 2016, while the expert speaker line-up also features: world-renowned former Judge Richard Goldstone, former Justice of the Constitutional Court and Chief Prosecutor at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague; and Albie Sachs, well-known human rights activist and former Justice of the Constitutional Court.

The 77th Biennial Conference of the ILA will be hosted by the South African Branch of the ILA (SABILA), in association with MCI South Africa. Taking place only for the second time in Africa since its beginning in 1873 (it was hosted for the first time in Africa in Cairo in 1992), the ILA Conference will among others focus on African matters such as international criminal law, sustainable development, and peace and security issues.

“By choosing the theme, ‘International Law and State Practice: Is there a North – South divide’, we wanted to create a platform for reflection on whether, and if so, to what extent there is a North-South divide in the way in which states approach the topical issues of our time. These are issues such as the prosecution of sitting heads of state for gross human rights violations, climate change, international peace and security, terrorism and sustainable development,” says Prof Hennie Strydom, Chairperson of the Organising Committee and President of SABILA.

Lord Jonathan Mance, Chair of the ILA, remarks: “International law is topical and important as never before. The programme of the 77th Biennial Conference is a rich and extensive one. ILA conferences offer invaluable opportunities to meet and hear leading experts in the international law field from all over the world and to attend sessions at which the ILA’s ongoing work is presented and discussed.”

Held at different locations around the world every two years, the ILA Conference draws together scholars and practitioners of international law, judges, prosecutors, legal practitioners, academics, political scientists, scholars in international relations, NGOs, social scientists and economists.

The ILA’s objectives are pursued primarily through the work of its expert international committees and study groups, that research and publish reports on topics that have been identified as ripe for further development and codification. At the 2016 ILA Conference, 30 committees and study groups will present their reports; once these are finalised, they will be sent to the UN for consideration.

Over the five-day conference, topics such as the following will come under the spotlight:

  • BRICS in international law
  • International law and the peace and security architecture of the African Union
  • Transitional justice: In conversation with Albie Sachs
  • The role of international law in sustainable natural resources management for development
  • Marine biodiversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction
  • International law and sea level rise
  • Islamic law and international law
  • International protection of consumers
  • Feminism and international law
  • Space law

Rashid Toefy, MD of MCI South Africa, says: “We are delighted to be organising the first ever ILA Conference in the country, hosted by SABILA, and look forward to welcoming the world’s international law specialists to Johannesburg in August. MCI is known for driving dialogue and facilitating industry insights, specialised knowledge and best practices at the various global conferences we organise. The ILA Conference is where the work of international law specialist committees are discussed in detail and then endorsed. MCI is excited to be part of the creation of this conversation platform for the ILA in South Africa.”

To support and attract young scholars to attend the 2016 ILA Conference, two scholarship funds have been initiated. The first was set up by an ILA member in The Netherlands specifically to support youngAfrican scholars planning to attend the conference, and enhancing their research and early careers in this way. Currently, 21 applications have been received for the Scholarship Fund for Young Africans; the outcome of the selection process will be known shortly. The second initiative is one by the ILA which will fund the registration, accommodation and travel expenses of 11young scholars from different parts of the world.

Registration: To register for the 2016 ILA Conference, view the provisional programme and scholarship details, or to find out more visit

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