These recent procedural and substantive trends encompassed in the WAU conference demonstrate a renewed and welcomed interest for arbitration of mega disputes in the African continent and the MENA region, both international arbitration hubs that are gaining prominence. Whilst challenges remain, biases against arbitrating disputes in these regions are being debunked by the experience of Africa and MENA with dispute resolution, the advent of institutions and “arbitration friendly” jurisprudence.
Pan-African Investment Code
We are excited about our forthcoming symposium which centres the voices of amazing scholars from the Global South on the Investor-State Dispute Settlement Reform.
Without losing sight of the gaps in the PAIC, it is submitted that, even though it is not yet officially adopted as a binding instrument (given the uncertainty surrounding its official adoption), the PAIC can be important for African states. Primarily, as envisaged in its Article 2 (1), it can serve as a guideline for preparing model BITs as well as negotiating BITs with African and non-African states.
A coordinated African voice on FDI would likely enhance the continent’s global competitiveness, prevent destructive competition among countries, help strengthen Africa’s position in investment agreements, and ultimately result in increased FDI flows to the continent.
One would be justified in thinking that AU member states have intentionally created a court which they consciously know they would hardly use given the inertia identified above. If the reforms that would extend standing to private parties are not undertaken, there is little guarantee that Member States will suddenly change their habits. Assuming for once that they trigger the mechanism, it is also very likely that, consistent with their practice for political solutions to legal problems, they would not proceed beyond the consultation and good offices stages provided in Articles 7 and 8 of the Dispute Settlement Protocol.
With the purpose to bring together scholars and scholarship that highlights original and innovative thinking in IEL as it pertains to the African continent, the idea was to follow up with the existing tradition that consists in engaging with new scholarship and research on the continent’s contributions to, and involvement with IEL. This task proved at the same time challenging and quite rewarding. The call attracted responses of high calibres as reflected by the quality and quantity of abstracts received, as well as the global representation of the submissions.
While international trade has undergone significant structural changes recently, particularly with the proliferation of new generation of free trade agreements (FTAs), the debate on the consequences of IIAs for sustainable development continues to widen and intensify. In effect, while there has been fundamental changes in the international investment landscape in terms of players (now comprising state-owned enterprises and sovereign wealth funds) and FDI direction (with emerging economies now being, not only recipients, but increasingly home states), governments are also now adopting industrial policies and development strategies that contrast with their erstwhile hands-off approach to economic development.
The conclusion of the AfCFTA comes in the wake of global trade facing a lot of uncertainty, with more countries becoming more protectionist and the global world trade order facing collapse due to rising tensions. Despite all this, Africa’s regional integration agenda remains at the core. The Protocol on Investments is meant to be continental wide project to protect and promote investments in Africa. The ultimate goal for the AU’s regional integration objectives should be to have one investment framework to regulate the whole continent.
With over 100 countries involved, the revision of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, signed in Cotonou on 23 June 2000 is an extremely important endeavor that presents immense opportunities to all the parties and that requires careful negotiations. The Agreement will expire in 2020 and the parties are currently negotiating a new framework that is expected to reflect today’s socio-economic opportunities, challenges and concerns. This contribution looks at some of the strategic elements to consider when updating or amending investment-related provisions of the ACP-EU Partnership Agreement.
Hopefully, a sweltering sun in Africa has not caused AU experts to see mirages of intra-regional finance. Providing for intra-African investments in the current context of the continent is like offering classes on how to make planes to students living in countries that cannot yet make cars: Virtually all the real action takes place elsewhere. Instead of negotiating a chapter on investment, delegates must prioritize a chapter on how AU members can build their capacity to engage in deeper economic relations, especially on how to leverage FDIs in natural resources to develop adequate infrastructure for intra-African investment.