Volume: Volume 25 - 2021
Article type: Refereed article
Author/s: Mmiselo Freedom Qumba
Over the past few years, the international Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms have been confronted with an unprecedented level of scrutiny, and the system’s legitimacy is being questioned by both developed and developing countries alike. This article presents a proposal for the adoption of the old customary international law rule of exhaustion of local remedies in the upcoming Investment Protocol of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
It observes that the ISDS mechanism that will be developed under the AfCFTA framework is likely to be shaped by the legitimacy crisis in investment treaty arbitration and ongoing global debates about the reform of the ISDS mechanisms. In particular, the ISDS debate in the African region will continue to characterise and potentially derail the negotiations of the AfCFTA Protocol on Investment.
The main contention is that adopting the exhaustion of local remedies under the AfCFTA Protocol on Investment before recourse is had to the ISDS is arguably the single reform with the greatest potential to foster a balanced investment dispute resolution mechanism and reduce political opposition to ISDS while still providing investors with access to ISDS when domestic remedies are inadequate. The article finally proposes a drafting suggestion for the adoption of the exhaustion of local remedies rule into the ISDS provision of the AfCFTA Protocol on Investment.Click to view and download article