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ICC has announced a new and unique pilot programme aiming to give young arbitration practitioners in Africa an opportunity to gain practical experience by observing arbitration hearings.

Set to launch in early 2022, the ‘Hold the Door Open’ initiative will enhance the capacity of young arbitration practitioners by affording them a rare opportunity to observe arbitration hearings, either held virtually or in person.  They will also have the opportunity to engage with counsel and arbitrators in a structured programme focused on advocacy skills and strategy.

President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration Claudia Salomon said: “Hearings are the end game of the arbitration process, yet young practitioners often have little to no access to observe these proceedings and understand how the case comes together and how the hearing is conducted. The Hold the Door Open initiative is so-called because it will be a valuable portal for young arbitrators to see arbitration in practice.”

As the preferred arbitral institution with a truly global presence, ICC Dispute Resolution Services are the gold standard for arbitration and ADR. The initiative aims to put forward the ICC Court’s almost 100-years of experience to benefit the next generation of dispute resolution professionals.

“With a focus on inclusivity, upskilling and opportunity, a key objective of the Hold the Door Open initiative is to develop future leaders of international arbitration worldwide. Starting this initiative with aspiring arbitration practitioners based in Africa is a strong step towards expanding the pool of arbitration practitioners in the region,” said Diamana Diawara, ICC Director of Arbitration and ADR, Africa.

Under new leadership announced in September, the ICC Africa Commission will select 20 candidates to become Hold the Door Open scholars. ICC national committees in Africa (ICC Burkina Faso, ICC Cameroon, ICC Ghana, ICC Egypt, ICC Kenya, ICC Morocco, ICC Nigeria and ICC South Africa) have been invited to propose a candidate practising in their respective jurisdiction.

To qualify for the programme, candidates must have (i) at least three years’ experience as a practising attorney domiciled in an African jurisdiction and (ii) have academic training in arbitration or be currently active in the dispute resolution field.  Candidates will be bound by strict confidentiality, and their observations subject to the approval of the parties and arbitrators in each matter.

To participate, interested candidates are required to send a CV and a one-page statement of interest. The deadline for submissions is 3 December 2021.

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