The African Society of International Law (AfSIL) held its 9th Annual Conference on Africa and COVID-19 virtually, on 30 October 2020. AfSIL aims inter alia to promote international law on the continent and to contribute to the development of an international law that expresses the point of view of African States and specialists. The Conference was sponsored by law firms Foley Hoag LLP, Shikana Law Group and Asafo & Co.
The importance of law in development discourse, especially in times of global crises as captured under Sustainable Development Goal 16 is a critical factor in establishing and maintaining the rule of law by empowering the most vulnerable persons and groups in society to exercise their fundamental human rights against unfettered legal regimes and political leadership.
The question of a regulatory framework for this type of CSR at the African Union level is paramount. Such regulatory frameworks could be meta-regulatory in nature and thus embrace a mix of soft law and hard law rules with incentives. This need for policy and regulation is recognised in the African Union Agenda 2063 framework document both in order to effectively finance development objectives and to enable full exploitation of the partnership capabilities in the interest of Africa. The African Union has also pursued this set goal for agribusiness as a result of the Malabo declaration on accelerated agricultural growth commitments
By bringing forward this interlegal sensibility, ALIC invites the investor to think of their own best interest in broad term and to take the time to understand already-existing, pluralist socio-legal expectations and practices. It also implicitly reminds the investor to take the time to build a relationship with local communities that is buttressed by an iterative understanding of fairness (a core tenet of commercial law). Without such a relationship and appropriate due diligence, ALIC in effect recommends to the investor and the local community to not pursue the deal – no one benefits from a land transaction that is only made possible by disrupting local people’s lives or dislocating them from their homeland.