This blog reflects on recent efforts for international investment agreements (IIAs) to extend human rights and sustainable development obligations to foreign investors. Prior to the recent adoption of the Nigeria-Morocco BIT in 2016, human rights language and foreign investor obligations were notably absent in Nigeria’s IIAs. This discrepancy - between attempts to attract foreign investment through IIAs and the failure to link these investments to socio-economic priorities in Nigeria – has led to palpable tensions within Nigeria’s dominant economic sector, oil production, but recent international law developments suggest a slow shift is happening.
African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights
The recent decision by the High Court of Kenya regarding the admission of students from South Sudan advocates of Kenya may not have attracted much attention in Kenya and the East African Community (EAC), but it is all the same a very important one among the many decisions that have been coming from the Kenyan courts recently regarding the implementation of the Treaty Law In Kenya.
All in all, what should be kept in mind is that, as the wise Canadian thinker and diplomat Ivan Leigh Head once noted, an element of law (and of accountability), some measure of it, will be needed in the effort to realize the right to development. It is for this reason that the African example of establishing meaningful regional-level accountability mechanisms in the development field, undergirded by hard law, ought to be replicated at the UN level.
In July 2019, the African International Economic Law Network (AfIELN), held its Fourth Biennial Conference under the theme “Africa and International Economic Law in the 21st Century” at the Strathmore University Law School (Nairobi, Kenya). This symposium contains some of the papers presented at this conference in their abridged forms. Before introducing the authors’ views on this Conference’s broader theme, we provide the important context under which the Conference took place.
One of the key points of departure of this book is that ‘the prevailing investment treaty based rules regime institutionalises neoliberalism, which argues for a lesser involvement of the state in the market’ (p. 19), and that ‘despite neo-liberalism’s aversion to the role of the state in economic matters, the state is responsible for the public interest and is the highest authority and a reduction in its economic functions’ (p. 19). It is on this basis that Adeleke theorises a harmonisation between the neoliberalist attitudes of international investment law on the one hand, and the public interest objectives of human rights law on the other.