The Human Rights Potential of Sovereign Wealth Funds

30 Pages Posted: 8 Apr 2009 Last revised: 2 Jul 2013

See all articles by Christiana Ochoa

Christiana Ochoa

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Patrick Keenan

University of Illinois College of Law

Date Written: 2009


In April, 2008, World Bank president, Robert Zoellick, called for sovereign wealth funds to invest one percent of their capital in Africa. The result will be the International Finance Corporation's Sovereign Funds Initiative and is an attempt to nurture the potential of sovereign wealth funds to contribute to economic development and improved well-being in a number of countries in Africa and elsewhere. This article explores the actual potential of the Sovereign Funds Initiative to realize its desired goals. After exploring and demonstrating the disappointing effects of natural resource wealth, development aid and foreign direct investment on some developing countries, the article proposes that the "one percent" should be used to fund a venture capital and micro/mezo-finance initiative targeted directly to entrepreneurs in partner countries. The paper proposes a Multilateral Sovereign Investment Agency to oversee this endeavor.

Keywords: sovereign wealth funds, SWFs, human rights, development, Africa, venture capital, microfinance, International Finance Corporation, IFC, Sovereign Funds Initiative, corruption, rent-seeking, patronage

Suggested Citation

Ochoa, Christiana and Keenan, Patrick James, The Human Rights Potential of Sovereign Wealth Funds (2009). 40 Geo. J. Int’l L. 1151 (2009); Illinois Public Law Research Paper No. 08-27; Indiana Legal Studies Research Paper No. 132. Available at SSRN: or

Christiana Ochoa (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States
812-856-1516 (Phone)
812-855-0555 (Fax)


Patrick James Keenan

University of Illinois College of Law ( email )

504 E. Pennsylvania Avenue
Champaign, IL 61820
United States

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