In this collaboration between Asser Institute’s Doing Business Right project and AfronomicsLaw, we welcome contributions from scholars working on African international law, African perspectives of international/transnational law, as well as scholars working on business and human rights more generally.
The present state of international economic law leaves much to be desired. Anchored by the multilateral General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, which led to the creation of the World Trade Organization, and complemented by a vast network of bilateral and multilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements, international economic law is drawn from diffuse sources. Additionally, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body and Appellate Body, which interpret the GATT provisions, and arbitral tribunals, which interpret investment protection agreement provisions, shape the content of international economic law. However, the patchwork of treaty text and dispute settlement rulings into a body of law is unraveling.
Access to justice for victims of business and human rights in the ISA will be an strong index to measure the realization of the sustainable development goal on access to justice. Goal 16 specifically provides that states should promote the rule of law at the national and international levels and ensure equal access to justice for all. Reforming the ISA to ensure equal access between states, investors, and local communities will be an important step in this direction.
Unfortunately, the Guide appears to be blind to the way in which conceiving land and tenure rights in the context of global vale chains can multiply the relevant spaces of engagement and challenges the traditional notion of jurisdictional spaces and fragmentation. Luckily, communities, activists and lawyers acting on the ground have come to this realization long ago, and I believe that they will find the best way to use a document that aims to normalize large-scale investments but can also open new interesting spaces for political and legal resistance.