African countries have been active in concluding international investment treaties. They are increasingly subject to investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) cases, including claims that challenge regulatory actions of host countries in a wide range of areas, including public services and race relations. At the same time, African States have developed the ‘Africa Mining Vision’, which is aimed at introducing policy and regulatory frameworks intended to maximize the development of the region through the use of natural resources as catalyst for industrial development in order to diversify the economy.
This paper discusses the potential challenges that could arise out of rules established by international investment treaties and ISDS to policy space in African countries and the operationalization of the ‘Africa Mining Vision’. It provides an overview of the rising number of ISDS cases in the mining and extractive industries, including cases brought against African countries. It also reviews how investment treaties are increasingly imposing a wider net of prohibitions around performance requirements, which could potentially be crucial for the operationalization of the ‘Africa Mining Vision’.
The paper concludes that in the case of African countries, similar to other developing countries, the expansion of international investment agreements could carry significant risks to policy space and policy tools necessary for industrialization and development. In the case of African countries, this implies risks to the potential use of sectoral policies, such as policies in the extractive industries and the ‘Africa Mining Vision’, in order to support and promote African countries’ industrialization objectives.
The Investment Court System (ICS) proposed by the European Commission for all of the EU's ongoing and future investment negotiations to get around the massively unpopular Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system, would still empower corporations to sue governments over measures to protect the environment, health, workers and other public interests, according to a just released new report.
According to the report, the proposed ICS does not put an end to ISDS. Quite the opposite, it would empower thousands of companies to circumvent national legal systems and sue governments in parallel tribunals if laws and regulations undercut their ability to make money.
As geopolitical tensions escalate in the Middle East and the world teeters on the brink of a new Cold War, it’s clear that the only way to eliminate the threat of nuclear warfare is for governments to fulfil their long-held commitment to the “general and complete disarmament” of nuclear weapons – permanently. A bold and essential step towards this crucial goal is to decommission Trident, the UK’s ineffective, unusable and costly nuclear deterrent submarines. Renewing Trident would not only undermine international disarmament efforts for years to come, it will reinforce the hazardous belief that maintaining a functional nuclear arsenal is essential for any nation seeking to wield power on the world stage.
Ministers and senior officials of developed countries agreed major changes today to what can be counted as Official Development Assistance (ODA, or ‘aid’), opening the door for greater use of aid to subsidise private companies. A push by some states for greater aid spending on military and security costs was partly rebuffed, after strong campaigning from civil society organisations, while discussions on how to reduce the huge amount of foreign aid being diverted to cover spending in donor countries to support refugees will culminate later this year.
From February 21st-25th, La Via Campesina is holding its Midterm Conference, including the Women’s Assembly and the Youth Assembly, near Seferihizar in Turkey. Midterm Conferences are held between two and three years after the International Conferences and are the occasion for evaluating work and for following up on the actions and commitments that were decided upon at the preceding International Conference. The last International Conference took place in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2013. It is expected that more than 100 women and men representatives of peasants and small-scale farmers organisations from all over the world will take part in this Midterm Conference.
The ‘Mistreated’ report is based on research that has for the first time examined more than 500 international tax treaties that low and lower-middle income countries in Eastern and Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have signed from 1970 until 2014.
We commissioned research scoring how much a tax treaty restricts the way that the lower income country can levy profit tax, withholding tax and other taxing rights including capital gains tax.
Imagine the third largest employer in the nation's capital characterizing one of its African employees as an animal in an official report. His lawyer, Peter C. Hansen, demanded the "shameful" report that contained "the most galling... overtly racist... anti-African stereotypes" be removed from the record. The organization not only rejected the request, but its Administrative Tribunal felt obliged to let the lawyer know that the "tone and confrontational nature" of his pleadings did not go unnoticed.
The organization terminated the African and made it clear that he could have avoided termination “if [he] had spent a little bit more time and energy listening to his manager and co-workers, and a little bit less energy preparing his case with his attorney." This is not a tale of bygone years, but a case from November 2015.
The widening rich-poor gap is recognised as a major social and political problem, but what measures can be taken nationally and internationally to address this issue?
Economic inequality is now identified as one of the biggest challenges of our time.
Last week, the United States’ presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a rank outsider just a few months ago, won the Democratic primary in New Hampshire by a landslide against Hillary Clinton, with a campaign theme of fighting inequality.
How do we tackle this seemingly intractable and growing problem?
For the casual reader, Poul Thomsen’s recent piece on the role of the IMF in the bailout review negotiations taking place between Greece and the Troika would seem balanced and reasonable. At the end of the day, as he has argued elsewhere, the numbers simply need to add up. For that, there is a trade-off between the “ambition of the reforms” Greece needs to impose and the amount of debt relief that can be granted by its European partners. Put bluntly, more austerity implies less debt relief and vice versa.
Thomsen argues that given the contentious character of the negotiations the IMF is simply there as a friendly companion that supports both its Greek and European partners to make the tough decisions required to develop a program that adds up. However, for someone who is more familiar with the role that the IMF in general, and Thomsen in particular, has played in putting Greece in the precarious situation in which it finds itself today, his piece can only be defined as brazen and cynical.
In order to unpack Thomsen’s argument, we need to go by parts:
Ultimately a program must add up: the combination of reforms plus debt relief must give us and the international community reasonable assurances that by the end of Greece’s next program, after almost a decade of dependence on European and IMF assistance, Greece will finally be able to stand on its own”
Transparency International (TI) says it will impose social sanctions on the world’s nine most symbolic cases of grand corruption as voted by the public in its new campaign, Unmask the Corrupt.
“The nine cases were chosen based on popular voting by the public and also because of their widespread impact on human rights,” a TI spokesperson wrote to OCCRP via email. The campaign will focus attention on “the less visible side of grand corruption, such as laws allowing [for] anonymous companies and those who facilitate corrupt deals.”
According to a news release by TI, the campaign faced a vote-rigging problem during the online election process. The organization found fake registrations for votes cast by unknown parties in an attempt to manipulate the vote.
“Lying, cheating, stealing and fraud are the tools of the corrupt. We want to pursue sanctions against as many of these cases as possible. We cannot single out just one case, they all must be dealt with,” said Transparency International Chair José Ugaz in response to the attempted vote fraud.
The nine top cases selected for the campaign include: