The UNIDROIT-FAO-IFAD Legal Guide on Agricultural Land Investment Contracts (The Guide) is a tool to promote responsible agricultural foreign investment. Many international organisations insist that more private investment is needed to meet the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Agricultural foreign investment, particularly, is central to a world with no poverty (SDG 1) and no hunger (SDG 2) (The Guide 2019, 10, 13), but the link between foreign investment and these goals should not be taken for granted. Foreign investment can probably promote these and other SDGs; however, it also creates costs and risks.
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.
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.
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.
The draft Pan-African Investment Code (PAIC) or (Code) was released in 2015 with the objective of fostering cross-border investment flows in Africa. While the draft code currently serves as “guiding instrument”, it remains a valuable blueprint for solving the long-standing investment problems plaguing the region. It is therefore imperative that African countries hasten their efforts to ensure its implementation as a binding treaty document. The decision to develop the Code was welcomed by experts as an opportunity to create a binding legal framework to oversee Africa’s industrial and structural transformation. The Code was also expected to balance the lopsided nature of the relationship between investors’ rights and host states’ obligations.