New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Francis N. Botchway
Chapter 2: Dispute Settlement and Sustainable Development of Natural Resources in Africa
Abba Kolo Underlying the litany of Africa’s development problems is a crisis of governance. (World Bank (1989), Sub-Saharan Africa: From Crisis to Sustainable Growth, p. 60) 1 INTRODUCTION To a large extent, the above observation made by the World Bank more than two decades ago in the context of socio-economic development still stands and probably applies with respect to conflicts that threaten sustainable development of the natural resources of most African countries. This chapter argues that inadequate or ineffective (real or perceived) access to justice to those harmed by natural resource exploitation fuels armed conflict in most resource-rich African countries, which in turn threatens sustainable development of the resources. The chapter focuses on the need for future investment treaties and/or natural resources development agreements in Africa to incorporate key sustainable development principles (such as protection of fundamental human rights and the environment) and to subject these rights to binding international arbitration provision of the treaty or agreement. The chapter suggests that institutionalising good governance through international adjudication of resource-related disputes between host communities and foreign investors/host states is not only desirable but necessary for the sustainable development of such resources in Africa. International adjudication is as important in resolving such disputes as it is with respect to disputes between host states and foreign investors. The chapter is organised as follows. Section 2 highlights the basic components of sustainable development in the context of natural resource development and why the bilateral investment treaty (BIT) and/or natural resource development agreement is the...
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