Arinze Bryan Okiche

Arinze Bryan Okiche

Birmingham Law School
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

PhD title: The Meaning and Implications of Flexibility in African Regional Trade Agreements; Consequences for the New African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA)

Supervisors: Dr Luca Rubini and Dr Maria Anna Corvaglia (University of Leeds)


  • LLM (Distinction) - Durham University 
  • BL - Nigerian Law School
  • LLB - University of Nigeria Nsukka


I did my undergraduate degree in law at the University of Nigeria Nsukka and my master’s degree in international trade and commercial law was completed in 2016 at Durham University. I have also been called to the Nigerian Bar.

In my experience as a lawyer working in Nigeria, I have gained valuable practice experience traversing in-house, law firm and public practice with good international contract negotiation and drafting skills. I have been consulted by a foreign client on whose behalf I acted in a concession agreement involving a municipal government in Nigeria. I have also been an assistant legal and compliance officer in a multinational African IT company where I worked on several international software/hardware agreements involving companies like IBM and Oracle. Prior to working as a commercial lawyer, I spent one year as a criminal lawyer defending indigent clients at the public defender’s office in Ogun State, Nigeria.

Since commencing my LL.M at Durham in 2015, I have developed a broad interest in the areas of international trade law, competition and sustainable development (trade and human rights). In 2017, I interned at the Legal Policy and Research Unit of the International Bar Association (IBA) in London. I worked particularly to help the IBA develop policies which sought to achieve a convergence between business and human rights to ensure that international businesses and lawyers who act for them operate in strict compliance with human rights.


  • Global Competition Law LLM 2019/2020
  • Criminal Law Seminars 2020/2021

Doctoral research

PhD title
The Meaning and Implications of Flexibility in African Regional Trade Agreements; Consequences for the New African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA)
Law PhD / PhD by Distance Learning / MPhil / MJur


African nations are at the verge of operationalising the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), consistently touted to be the biggest free trade area in the world. The viability of the AFCTA nevertheless depends largely on how it is placed in the context of other African regional trade agreements (RTAs) and the most important principles that underpin them. One of such principles is the notion of flexibility acknowledged in Article 5 of the AFCTA as one of the grundnorm of the Agreement and often considered as one of the essential hallmarks of African trade regionalism. However, although flexibility has long been regarded as one of the distinct features of African RTAs, it is not clear what the term means in relation to the legal commitments that are created by the pre-AfCTA RTAs. An examination of this is important because the AfCTA Agreement designates the current RTAs as necessary building blocks for the new free trade area

Using the 4 major African RTAs as its fulcrum of analysis, my research attempts to rightly conceptualise flexibility as it relates to the institutional structure and the legal obligations created in African RTAs. Ultimately, my research attempts to show that there is a causal link between some African conceptions of flexibility and the lack of a proper legal delineation between member states’ legal systems and the RTA legal system and between the RTA themselves. This lack of a proper legal relationship has been recognised as one of the problems militating against economic integration in Africa.

Other activities

Conference Papers

  • Socio-Economic Rights, Regionalism and the Future of the Multilateral Trading System in Africa (Paper presented and discussed at the 'Human Rights in the 21st century: Developing Rights in a Developing World’ Conference organised by the Rights Lab of University of Birmingham and Nottingham University, July 2018)
  • Litigation/Arbitration of Corporate Human Rights Violations in Africa; What Role for Future Trade Agreements and Investment Treaties (Paper Presented to the International Bar Association London, September 2017)

Memberships of Organisations

  • African Society of International Economic Law
  • British Society of International and Comparative Law
  • Nigerian Bar Association


Journal Articles

  • Ebelechukwu Lawretta Okiche & Arinze Bryan Okiche, ‘The Balance Between Equity and Efficiency; Reflections on the Goals of the New Nigerian Competition Law’ (2020) 46(2) Commonwealth Law Bulletin 331-363 


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