Upheaval and uncertainty in mineral regulation in parts of Africa: resurgence of resource nationalism highlights the importance of investment treaty protections

The last few months have seen significant changes to mining regulations in various African states, giving rise to a concern that a regional trend of resource nationalism may be (re-)emerging. In this context it is important for companies associated with the mining sector to be aware of the protection international investment treaties may provide against the impact of resource nationalism on their assets, and how to maximise that protection before risks materialise.  This bulletin briefly considers some of the last few months’ developments, before discussing how companies can use investment treaties to protect themselves against the risks they pose.

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The future of investment agreements: meeting of the World Investment Forum

The number and diversity of parties with interests in the future of international investment protection has never been greater – a result of tremendous growth in cross-border investment and rapid economic development in many parts of the world. At the same time, many stakeholders, including states and NGOs, have argued that the existing framework of investment treaties is in need of reform. Some have alleged, among other criticisms, that existing treaties limit the policy freedom of states to regulate in the interests of public health and environmental protection. In this context, on 16 October 2014 in Geneva, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) convened a conference on the future of international investment agreements (IIAs), including in particular bilateral and multilateral investment treaties, and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS).

UNCTAD has been working for several years to identify concrete mechanisms and proposals for reform of the system. We previously covered this initiative here. In July of this year UNCTAD also published an Issues Note that identified four potential paths of action and a recommended way forward for the reform of the existing IIA regime. The October conference built upon UNCTAD’s work, and followed the release of UNCTAD’s comprehensive 2014 World Investment Report.

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Upcoming Webinar: Investment Treaties and the African Continent – Change, Risk and Opportunity

Tuesday 8 April 2014, 12.30 – 1.30pm BST

Drawing together the two strands of our recent webinars on Investment Treaty Arbitration and arbitration in the EMEA regions, this webinar will focus on Investment Treaties and the African continent.

Africa is brimming with an abundance of natural resources, talent and ambition. Investment into African jurisdictions is becoming increasingly desirable and competitive, with investors hailing from all over the developed and developing worlds.

In this webinar, our speakers will draw from their knowledge and experience to discuss the differing approaches adopted by African jurisdictions towards Investment Treaties and the continent’s history in terms of Investor-State disputes. The speakers will look at sources of foreign direct investment into Africa (such as China) and the impact this has had on the Investment Treaty landscape. Our speakers will then turn to consider the likely approaches to be adopted by African jurisdictions in future, and the risks and opportunities these present to our clients in the context of an increasingly transparent investor-state dispute settlement system.


Chaired by:

  • Hannah Ambrose, Arbitration Practice Manager, London

If you would like to register for this event please contact Prudence Heidemans.

A webinar is an online seminar delivered to your desktop. On the day of the webinar you will be sent a link to login to the live event.

The webinar is recorded so you can listen again. If you are unable to listen to the live event register anyway and you will be able to listen to the recorded version when convenient.

The webinar is interactive and we welcome questions from our audience. Email your comments to the speakers on the day using the appropriate tab on the player.