Investment policy makers and investment treaty negotiators from the 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) convened in Pretoria, South Africa recently to engage in clause by clause in-depth discussions of the draft SADC Model Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) Template and Commentary.
Expected to be formally adopted later this year, the template is meant to embody harmonized approaches that will assist the 15 SADC Member States in their individual and collective negotiations of international investment agreements (IIAs) with third countries, as well as in the revisiting of existing treaties.
The template represents a distinct effort to enhance the sustainable development dimension of future IIAs, by including provisions on environmental and social impact assessments, measures against corruption, standards for human rights, environment, labour, corporate governance and the right of States to regulate and pursue their development goals.
The session was part of a joint SADC-IISD (International Institute for Sustainable Development) Training Programme. UNCTAD staff contributed to the meeting, putting the organization's new Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development (IPFSD) into action in the technical assistance context.
"With its focus on developing investment policy options that promote sustainable development and inclusive growth, UNCTAD's IPFSD has been an important tool for our Member States' discussions on the new SADC Model BIT," said Ms. Hennie Erasmus, Investment Advisor at the SADC Secretariat.
"The SADC model BIT, the pending Commonwealth Secretariat's Guide for IIA negotiators, and UNCTAD's IPFSD are all now at the forefront of promoting a sustainable development framework for international investment policy-making and implementing this policy into international investment treaties," said Mr. Howard Mann, Senior International Law Advisor of the Canada-based International Institute for Sustainable Development. "This approach recognizes that sustainable development and inclusive growth must be at the core of investment policy and treaty-making and we are extremely pleased about UNCTAD's endorsement of this approach in the IPFSD."
Preceding the SADC-IISD session, Mr. James Zhan, Director of UNCTAD's Investment Division was part of the South African launch of the IPFSD in the presence of H.E. Rob Davies, Minister of Trade and Industry. This was followed by UNCTAD staff conducting training activities for African policy-makers, organized by the University of the Western Cape's LLM Programme.