The China-Africa Factor in the Contemporary ICSID Legitimacy Debate

116 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2015

See all articles by Won Kidane

Won Kidane

Seattle University School of Law

Date Written: 2014


Statistical studies and the closer review of ICSID cases involving African states do not necessarily reveal systematic and glaring bias against or purposeful disadvantage to the positions of African states. In fact, the outcome seems to be surprisingly balanced and the jurisprudence profound. However, measuring outcome neither explains nor justifies ICSID’s diversity deficit and related shortcomings. As this article demonstrated, a deeper inquiry paints an unflattering picture on the reasons for the African states’ acceptance from the very beginning and their experience in the last half-century: a history of benevolent imposition and effective exclusion from meaningful decision making. As the economic leverage increasingly shows diversity and leans Eastwards, to stay relevant and useful, ICSID must take a closer look at its half-century of arbitral justice and attempt to remedy the perceived inequities. This article attempts to identify and characterize some of the glaring problems and offers thoughts on how they might be addressed.

Keywords: ISCID, investment arbitration, African States and ICSID, Investment Treaties, Investment Dispute Settlement, China and Africa investment, China and Africa dispute, investment arbitration, developing countries

Suggested Citation

Kidane, Won, The China-Africa Factor in the Contemporary ICSID Legitimacy Debate (2014). University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, Vol. 35, No. 3, 2014; Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 15-07. Available at SSRN:

Won Kidane (Contact Author)

Seattle University School of Law ( email )

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