Adjudication without Frontiers
Edited by Horatia Muir Watt, Lucia Bíziková, Agatha Brandão de Oliveira and Diego P. Fernandez Arroyo
Chapter 18: Mestizo international law: Petrobras saga
The question raised by The Economist, ‘whose oil in Brazil?’ shows up Petrobras, a State-controlled Brazilian oil company, to be involved in the regulation of regimes of oil exploitation in Brazil and beyond, including a crucial role in the distribution of the benefits of oil for development. Interestingly, its mestizo identity defines part of its projects and redistributive interventions. Implicated in a series of high-profile corruption scandals and investment disputes, its trajectory can be traced across different scales and processes, varied actors and complex interests. From a private international law viewpoint, exploring the distributive effects of international adjudication in projects of development based on the exploitation of natural resources might contribute to a more comprehensive view of the role of private law mechanisms, as well as of their interactions with the public ones, in regulating the global economy and distributing resources within it. Along those lines, investigation on the distributive effect of decisions on jurisdiction for the production of scales and boundaries for capital offers a promising path for furthering a discussion on mestizo strategies in reversing hierarchies and redistributing power in a capitalist world-system. The first analysis explores this path. But it is also intriguing that in the context of investment disputes with Bolivia, Petrobras preferred to resort to diplomatic negotiations as opposed to legally enforceable remedies. Petrobras, as a major economic group, has systematically made its investments under the protection of traditional legal instruments, which allowed it to benefit from contractual remedies and bilateral investment treaties.
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