Globalisation of commercial activity extends into international investments, evidenced by over 2,500 bilateral investment treaties (BIT) or International Investment Agreements (IIA) in the international investment regime. Within these BITs is an embedded Investment State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system executed through an Arbitration Mechanism. The ISDS system serves as a dispute resolution tool for achieving the purpose of the IIA. The purpose of the IIA is for the protection of foreign investment from the harmful policies and governance of host states. In addition, many IIAs contain certain common standards and principles that regulate the investment relationship, such as the notorious fair and equitable treatment (FET), stabilization clauses, and so on. Thus, the overarching aim behind the norms and principles of international investment management is the creation of a system of legal safeguards against the actions of the host states. This simplistic paradigm of international investment law regime has become increasingly problematic due to the expansion and inclusion of various indirect stakeholders in the investment agreements, the growing recognition of public socio-economic realities like regulatory rights, and development rights, that are being pushed for larger consideration from ignored stakeholders mostly like the public.
Pan African Investment Code
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) aims to achieve the expansion of intra- African trade through the harmonisation and coordination of trade liberalisation and facilitation across Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Africa in general and "enhance competitiveness at the industry and enterprise level through exploiting opportunities for scale production, continental market access and better reallocation of resources". Negotiations for the Phase II Protocols of the AfCFTA are ongoing. Of particular importance to this paper will be the Protocol on Investment which is currently under negotiation. This paper will focus on how the Investment Protocol can contribute to promoting sustainable development on the African continent.
The Award in Oded Besserglik v. Republic of Mozambique, one of the very few publicly known intra African treaty-based investment arbitration cases, was issued 29th October 2019. The case started when in March 2014, a South African national (Mr. Besserglik) filed an application, before the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), against the Mozambique (the Respondent) on the grounds that his shares and interests in a joint fishing venture with some Mozambican State-owned enterprises, as well as his vessels, were unlawfully and fraudulently appropriated by the Respondent.
Investors have shown time and time again that they will not hesitate to challenge regulatory measures not matter what a states’ underlying intent is. Only when the COVID-19 dust has settled will it be known which states had robust, well-crafted COVID-19 regulatory measures that can survive investor claims.
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 call for an open, rules-based approach to investment facilitation at the multilateral level is informed by a tipping point in the international investment arena. As discussed below, this paradigm shift and various precedental challenges have made it imperative to seek international investment policy coherence.
This symposium, comprising six contributions, presents case studies of the existing plant variety protection systems in Africa, complexities around introducing new systems as well as the interlinkages between plant variety protection, human rights and traditional knowledge.
The signing of the consolidated text of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in March 2018 by 47 African Union member States was a significant milestone. It was the first time since the Abuja Treaty of 1994 that a continental trade agreement had been negotiated. This symposium critically appraises the agenda of the AfCFTA. It kicks off with a post that boldly makes the case why this agreement promises to redress the comparatively low levels of intra-regional trade as well as the dearth of high value exports from Africa.
The AU’s focus should be to design the AfCFTA investment protocol as an instrument that will treat all investors equally, and that will also foster harmonisation at continental level from the top down. My argument is still valid although my solution will not resolve questions such as divergent policies and views with regard to whether investor state disputes should be referred to arbitration or litigation. Central to this issue is that African states have different levels of the rule of law. This means that under circumstances where the rule of law is poor, obliging investors to refer disputes to the courts of a host state riks denial of justice.