There is the potential to create regional or sub-regional frameworks, which through agreements can handle claims against companies within their territories. This may strengthen local regional capacity, alleviate the allegations of complicity of the state and exemplify the cooperative spirit embodied in more recent collaborative African action. It would demonstrate an attempt at African solutions which are not dependent on home states. Nevertheless, it may not be enough to counter the lack of legally binding responsibility grounded in international law, as it would not be able to bring parent companies, who reside outside the African jurisdiction, within its scope.
This symposium aims to encourage a more systematic and critical scholarly engagement with the delocalization of justice in BHR cases involving harms suffered in African states, and the Global South more broadly. It is our contention that until now, with some notable exceptions, scholarly debates in the BHR sphere have insufficiently focused on the justification for, effectiveness of, and alternatives to this uprooting strategy. Yet, this delocalization lies at the heart of many legal processes and regulatory mechanisms aimed at delivering justice (or corporate accountability) in the Global North for harms that occurred in the Global South. Interrogating this delocalization, and imagining alternative strategies that would enable local populations to gain greater agency through local political and legal processes, should be at the core of scholarship and activism in the BHR field.
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A proper assessment of Rudahindwa’s monograph on the subject of establishing the African Economic Community (AEC) is one that cannot exclude the currents of ongoing reform efforts and the extent to which they are able to move the continent faster towards the dream of achieving the AEC. This invariably raises some methodological questions that border on multidisciplinary approach to regionalism, and the issue of context. The author highlights these two imperatives in the monograph. By using the concept of “developmental regionalism” as an analytical prism, the author situates the discussion within a multidisciplinary paradigm.
Jonathan Bashi Rudahindwa’s monograph on regionalism in Africa is a timely addition to the literature on the topic. His focus is primarily on the creation of the African Economic Community (AEC). Created by treaty in 1991 the AEC lays down a path for Africa to follow towards the creation of an African common market. This is to be done in stages culminating in an economic and monetary union. The AEC thus seems to be a critical landmark in the evolution towards African economic unification.
The hallmark of Jonathan Bashi’s masterful analysis of the uniquely multifarious and variegated processes which set Africa apart from all other regional integration theatres (the Americas, Europe, Southeast Asia) is its lucidity. His organising concept of ‘regional developmentalism through law’ as distinct from regionalism per se or regional economic integration is a genial critical and discursive move. It effectively critiques and corrects the concealed neoliberalism of integrationist discourse by 1) restoring the means-end relationship of regionalism to development, and 2) foregrounding the centrality and polyvalence of law as mechanism. For Bashi, the role of rules is not to serve markets, but to fashion, construct, and condition them.
Rudahindwa’s contribution lies in his articulation of the need for institutions and legal frameworks to reflect these multiple objectives of African RECs. In this regard, he ably demonstrates how the specific objectives of NAFTA, ASEAN, MERCOSUR and the EU have informed the nature of the institutions that manage their respective organisations and their legal frameworks, including how they address issues such as the relationship between the laws of the organisations and their member states, the bindingness of agreed commitments and laws, and dispute settlement.