By the end of August 2019, African States had been hit by a total of 106 known investment treaty arbitration claims. This represents 11% of all known investor-state disputes worldwide. Between 2013 and 2018, there has been an unprecedented boom of claims against African governments. During these last six years, they received more investor claims than the previous 20 years combined. This paper exposes how the international investment regime affects African countries.
The joint report produced by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and INTERPOL in 2016 paints a rather grim picture of the extent of environmental crime worldwide. It identifies it as the fourth largest criminal enterprise globally, right behind drug smuggling, counterfeiting, and human trafficking. Two questions are worth pondering here: to quote George Monbiot, how did we get into this mess and what can we do about it?
How fair is the investment arbitration system in Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries? Are investor-state disputes balanced between national and corporate interests? LAC countries are among the most affected by the investment arbitration system, representing 28.6% of all known investor-state disputes around the world. In particular, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru account for 77.3% of the total number of claims against LAC countries. Analysis shows that the system so far heavily favours corporate interests. Investors have won in 70% of the cases brought against LAC countries. As a result, LAC States have already had to pay foreign companies 20.6 billion USD, which could cover Bolivia’s budget for health and education for four whole years.