The Institute was established, at the initiative of Judge Abdulqawi A. Yusuf, under the auspices of the African Foundation for International Law (http://www.afil-fadi.org) and in cooperation with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania.


On 30 January 2012, the establishment of the Institute was endorsed by the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union. The Assembly underscored the “strategic importance” of the Institute as a Pan-African institution “dedicated to offering higher learning and research in international law and the law of the African Union needed for the development of Africa.” The Assembly also recognized “the importance of the role that the Institute will play in building the capacity of African Faculties of Law and African lawyers in dealing with various aspects of international and African Union Law” (Decision 405 (XVIII), Decision on the Establishment of an African Institute of International Law in Arusha, the United Republic of Tanzania).


One year later, on 14 January 2013, it was the turn of the United Nations General Assembly to welcome the creation of the Institute. The General Assembly also encouraged the UN Secretariat to cooperate with the Institute through the Codification Division of its Office of Legal Affairs (Resolution 67/91 (United Nations Programme of Assistance in the Teaching, Study, Dissemination and Wider Appreciation of International Law, paragraph 20). Since then, the General Assembly reiterates each year its encouragement to the Codification Division to cooperate with the African Institute of International Law (see for example Resolution 74/185 of 27 December 2019, paragraph 22).


The Institute started its training and capacity building activities immediately after its inaugural ceremony held in Arusha, Tanzania, on 16 February 2015.