The Eco Oro arbitral award demonstrates that there is still a long way to go before the adjustments that ISDS needs to make to correct its profound inequalities are taken seriously. This system not only continues to exclude the actors most affected by its decisions like local communities, but also continues to redefine, through typical private law devices, rules and substantive aspects of our democracies.
Investor State Dispute Settlement
In order to decide whether to include IF in the AfCFTA and how, African policymakers should be aware of all these different approaches and dynamics around Investment Facilitation to be able to set their own priorities in this relatively “new” area in international investment law, crafting an innovative and holistic approach for their future investment protocol. To date, international and regional approaches in IF are still in the making – making it easier for policymakers to identify what works best for Africa. In the process, policymakers can also leverage their own cutting-edge reform efforts on investment protection and regulation, and set a regional standard as a rule-maker – which could, in turn, influence ongoing or other future global processes on this topic.
Conventional approaches view researchers as detached observers who can objectively analyse and explain the world, and policymakers as mobilising evidence to inform decisions. This paradigm can translate into institutionalised arrangements for linking research to policy. The UNCITRAL Working Group and the Academic Forum on ISDS provide one example, whereby scholars supply legal and empirical analysis for the Working Group’s deliberations.
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.
As an essential outcome of strengthening the state control over natural wealth and resources, Tanzania has brought natural resource contracts into the purview of its domestic legal system. In doing so, some countries have exercised their sovereign rights to natural resources as the basis for denouncing international adjudication of investment claims based on such contracts. Indeed, biases perceived by Tanzania concerning international arbitration fora have played a great role in bringing natural recourse contracts into the purview of Tanzanian legal system. The goal of the reforms is to mitigate such partialities through using domestic dispute resolution mechanisms.
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.
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.