Many states use investment treaties to spur economic development by granting legal protections to foreign investors and providing for direct enforcement before international arbitral tribunals. Yet South Africa has taken a different course. As explained below, South Africa originally signed onto a number of investment treaties despite barely considering how the resulting obligations would affect its constitutional commitments and the authority of its domestic courts. After the shock of losing its first two treaty-based investment disputes, the country shifted from avidly entering into bilateral investment treaties (BITs) to opposing BITs absent compelling economic and political reasons to conclude them. Today South Africa seeks to replace investment treaties and investor-state arbitration with protections under domestic legislation, along with mediation and dispute resolution before domestic courts. In this essay, I describe this shift and explore three difficult and yet-to-be-resolved questions that it presents: (1) Will foreign investors still be able to rely on protections under international law when bringing domestic cases? (2) If so, will the South African Constitution, as a matter of domestic law, displace any relevant commitments under international law? And (3) is the new South African approach consistent with international law?
Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.
* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.
Usage data cannot currently be displayed