A decolonised international law module, and the law curriculum in general, should be able to imagine the world beyond a simplistic notion of ‘the law says so’
In teaching and researching international law in Kenya, the key shift that could be considered is the incorporation of critical perspectives, the increase in publication of international law scholarship by African scholars and the shift to more effective teaching strategies.
At the heart of African decolonization was radical political thinking about international non-domination, and the vision of an international legal, political and economic order that secured this anti-imperialism through global redistribution. This idea of the world, that involved radical reinterpretation of the principle of self-determination, united the political thinking of the tallest leaders of Africa – Azikiwe, Nkrumah, Nyerere, and others.
The debate to what extent the societies are willing to allow the relativization of human rights and the democratic mechanisms is essential to bring what Boaventura de Sousa Santos calls “a novel clarity” that according to him: “[…]pandemic clarity and the apparitions it brings to light. The things it allows us to see and the way in which they are interpreted and assessed will determine the future of the civilization in which we live”.
I argue that it is time to explore the possibilities of a substantial reform, which should include: the renegotiation of the current 3,200 IIA; to stop signing treaties with arbitral clauses and extremely favourable conditions for investors; the promotion of an effective sovereignty States over the space that they should regulate; and the approval of binding obligations for companies. The failure to address substantive issues in ISDS, and to only focus on procedural aspects of reform, will lead to the consolidation and re-legitimatisation of this system, under the guise of “modernizing” it.
As social movements and civil society continues to seek support within international law in their claims for justice, the reflection on the absence of international corporate accountability mechanisms is an open field for human rights discourse dispute.
Fox and Bakhoum contextualize competition law by describing (in chapters 2 and 3) the structure and other key characteristic of markets in numerous African countries, including the economic and political history of those countries and their markets, as well as the legacies of colonization and decolonization – and by highlighting more broadly the economic challenges and needs of the people of Africa.