I argue that it is time to explore the possibilities of a substantial reform, which should include: the renegotiation of the current 3,200 IIA; to stop signing treaties with arbitral clauses and extremely favourable conditions for investors; the promotion of an effective sovereignty States over the space that they should regulate; and the approval of binding obligations for companies. The failure to address substantive issues in ISDS, and to only focus on procedural aspects of reform, will lead to the consolidation and re-legitimatisation of this system, under the guise of “modernizing” it.
Narratives are stories that get embedded in the general understanding of why and how a phenomenon takes place. Many narratives exist within International Investment Law (IIL) concerning its role in the international legal order, particularly in development. However, what if these narratives were to get turned on their head?
Although developing countries are very eager to attract FDI through BITs, for most parts, they deliberately water down the environmental concerns. However, recently we have witnessed the incorporation of environmental standards and provisions in BITs. This ambitious effort however is usually frustrated by decisions of international arbitration tribunals.
Access to justice for victims of business-related human rights violations, including harm caused by transnational resource extraction projects, remains a pressing global concern. A 2018 study by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) notes that such victims “continue to struggle to achieve effective remedies for the harm they have suffered”. This is despite the development and widespread endorsement by states and businesses of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
African countries can, and should facilitate, access to international arbitration by their citizens whose interests are harmed by foreign investors by procuring investors’ consent to such arbitration, and by including in their IIAs investor obligations. Allowing HSCs to be able to seek remedies through international arbitration has a number of benefits.
This commentary considers the access to food component of the draft UNIDROIT/FAO/IFAD Legal Guide on Agricultural Land Investment Contracts (Guide) and voices its silence on intellectual property rights (IPRs). In the past decade, foreign investors have increased the number of investments in the long-term lease of arable land, especially in Africa, and in the Global South, generally. The reasons for the choice of these locations include the availability of large portions of inexpensive agricultural land, inexpensive local labour and favourable climatic conditions for crop production. The Guide proposes more responsible investments in agriculture from public and private sector investors as a way to achieve, inter alia ‘No Poverty’ and ‘Zero Hunger’ (Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2).
This book symposium is about a new era of international investment norms in Africa. The discussion focuses on how to foster cooperation between African states and foreign investors in implementing sustainable development objectives and addressing global challenges. Several traditional investment treaties offer investors broad rights and protections that are backed by strong dispute settlement mechanisms. In the same vein, States have historically committed to non-reciprocal obligations in investment treaties that are seen as significantly limiting the policy space of states.