I am delighted to present this symposium for my textbook entitled: International Investment Law: National, Regional and Global Perspectives (Wolf Legal Publishers, Nijmegen, the Netherlands: 2020). The textbook could not have come at a better time given the compelling need for scholars from the Global South, particularly Africa, to contribute to international investment law scholarship to help reshape and redefine international investment law for the mutual advantages of foreign investors/enterprises and the host States.
Business and Human Rights
Global Value Chains (GVCs) are the main form of contemporary transnational capitalism. They are complex legal and financial structures that challenge traditional international-national and public-private dichotomies. They shape and define the speed of work and extraction, build bridges, raise walls, and transform lives and nature in each place where they touch base around the globe. Covid-19, a biological shock that has triggered a legal and economic reconsideration of global markets, has revealed the ecological backbone of value chains and highlighted the need to rethink the premises of competitiveness and cheapness around which they are imagined.
Global value chains (GVCs), as a dominant form of capitalism today, have been a vehicle for entrenching the concentration of economic resources and power in the hands of multinational corporations. While COVID-19 compounded health and economic crisis, reports emerged that suppliers in the garment industry value chains have been facing mounting challenges as a result of unreasonable demands from big clients, mainly corporations in the United States and the United Kingdom.
The ongoing negotiation of a business and human rights treaty represents without a doubt a complex political and legal challenge, where diverse aspects – economic, diplomatic and juridical– must be agreed upon between negotiating States with very different geopolitical positions. Despite the realpolitik involved, this process presents an opportunity to refineand reinforce State obligations vis-à-vis the domestic regulation of business activities, as well as to improve access to justice for victims of transnational corporate human rights abuses.
This contribution highlights two points made in the latest report of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights on Business and Human Rights (2019), which, in the future, might well transcend the debate in the Americas: the clear definition of a State obligation to regulate enterprise due diligence in national law, creating an indirectly binding natureof the until now voluntary Pillar II of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the insufficiency of adopting public policies (without regulation) on the matter to comply with that obligation, risking to be found acquiescent in business behavior that violates human rights.
The purpose of this post is to examine the concept of due diligence. By building on a notion common to the fields of corporate law and human rights law, due diligence became a bridge for the business and human rights (BHR). In order to meet with the expectations from victims of corporate abuses, a BHR due diligence must develop its proper concept, particularly in the field of reparations and access to remedies.
The purpose of this post is to examine some of the principles of International Private Law related to jurisdiction and how it is important to re-visit these foundations to assure that multinational corporations do not use it as a shield against national norms on due diligence and corporate accountability.
To mitigate the risk of speculation, I have proposed that the international community should create a Debts of Vulnerable Economies Fund (a “DOVE” fund) to help African countries deal with their private sector debt. The fund could be created by an African institution such as the African Development Bank or the African Union. The fund should be financed by governments, foundations, financial institutions, companies and individuals. In order to demonstrate its independence from both debtor countries and creditor institutions it should be managed by an independent board representing all stakeholders.
Post-Doctoral Fellows in the International Development Law Unit play two roles: (1) Academic Advisor to the students in the LLM in Trade and Investment Law in Africa programme (2) Researcher in the International Development Law Unit (IDLU)
The discourse on corporate accountability for human rights violations has been shaped to a great extent by the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), resulting from the work of John Ruggie, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights.