Habiba Abubaker


Habiba Abubaker is a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural since 2020. 

She is writing her PhD thesis on ‘The African Union’s non-adjudicative mechanisms of dispute settlement: assessed on a legal and an empirical basis,’ under the supervision of both Prof. Burkhard Hess at the University of Luxembourg, and Prof. Rudiger Wolfrum, from the University of Heidelberg. 

The African Union (AU) is currently involved in mediation attempts in Sudan following the 25 October 2021 military coup. The mediation process has caused disruption instead of providing a peaceful means of dispute settlement. The process' failure has led many to claim that the "mediators need a mediator." This is, however, not the first time the AU has undertaken mediations on the continent. Like Sudan, other African States continue to face a profound risk of experiencing inter alia, inter-State and intra-State armed conflict, unconstitutional government changes, territorial disputes, and other disputes over resources distribution. Both the 1963 Organization of the African Unity (OAU) and its successor the 2002 AU adopted non-adjudicative mechanisms in tackling these disputes.

Habiba Abubaker’s PhD thesis examines the non-adjudicative dispute settlement mechanisms, specifically mediation, under the auspices of the AU and assesses their sufficiency to settle African disputes. It argues that there are shortcomings in the legal structure of the AU, as exemplified through case studies in which the AU was the responsible organ for the mediation process. Once these shortcomings are identified, in a second step, the thesis aims to study the common African characteristics of non-adjudicative dispute settlement found within the domestic laws of AU Member States and whether they can be incorporated into a draft principles for the AU to adopt regionally. These principles may serve as a framework for future reference by the AU and may aid in establishing needed reforms. 

Before joining the Max Planck Institute, Habiba has worked with the African Union Commission; was previously an Assistant Legal Counsel at the Permanent Court of Arbitration; and a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law. She holds a Sudanese citizenship, but has lived in Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, Ethiopia, the Netherlands, Germany, and now Luxembourg.

Habiba obtained her LL.B. with honours from the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, followed by a successful completion of her LL.M. studies in international law and human rights in the same university. In 2017, she attended the United Nations’ Regional Course in International Law for Africa. 

Her research interests include international arbitration and alternative dispute resolution, comparative constitutional law, international law, human rights and political science.