• Overall context

One of the key developments in international economic relations concerns the multiplication of international investment agreements (IIAs), including bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and free-trade agreements containing investment chapters. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), States around the world have signed to date 3270 IIAS, out of which nearly 2926 are BITs.  

Provisions included in IIAs in general and in BITs in particular play a significant role in promoting and attracting foreign direct investments. However, the complexity of the international investment law system intensifies the risk of overlapping and inconsistent obligations of African States and in the meantime increases the probability for disputes between the latter and foreign investors. Such disputes would, one way or another, bear significant economic, administrative, institutional and policy consequences for African States.

Therefore, African States need to ascertain how to adequately integrate IIAs and BITs in particular in their economic development policy. These agreements are intended to promote economic development by providing a stable, predictable and transparent environment for foreign investors. However, the limited technical capacity to negotiate IIAs and to handle investment disputes, the high costs involved in conducting the proceedings, the potential impact of awards on the budget and/or State’s reputation as an investment destination, and the spill-over effects of arbitral decisions on other cases have been identified as factors of vulnerability of African States as host of foreign investments.

  • Work plan

In the light of the above context, the Investment Law & Policy project will initially focus on the following pillars: (i) African States’ practice of IIAS, (ii) intersection between domestic policies and investment treaties, and (iii) investor-state dispute settlement.