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50 years of ICSID Arbitration and African States (1974-2024)

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This study analyses the investment treaty arbitrations undertaken by or against African states at the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), in the last fifty years, from 1974 to 2024. ICSID offers dispute resolution by arbitration, conciliation and fact finding. Arbitration is often held out to be a preferred means of dispute resolution by foreign investors who may be wary of settling disputes in the national courts of host states. In recent times, African states appear to be developing a bias against investment treaty arbitration. The bias appears to stem from a variety of reasons. Critics say it may impair the sovereignty of states to penalize or counterclaim against investors who breach human rights, environmental obligations, or anti-corruption laws, as such, some states have revoked or issued revocation notices for Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITS).It is believed that the increase in number of cases instituted against Latin American states and the Awards skewed against the states led to Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador withdrawing from ICSID.

This study has three main parts. The first provides a background to ICSID, the involvement of African states to ICSID and investment treaty arbitration. The second part presents the results, the data and offers a very brief analysis of the data. The last part has a very short conclusion that identified the trends and points at the future. Many African states have signed BITS with other African and non-African states with obligations for ICSID arbitration to resolve disputes. Today, 90.74% of African nations are party to ICSID. Of these, some African states have signed but are yet to ratify ICSID while some have not even signed ICSID.

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