Africanization and the Reform of International Investment Law

29 Pages Posted: 9 Mar 2021 Last revised: 9 Jun 2021

See all articles by Olabisi D. Akinkugbe

Olabisi D. Akinkugbe

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law

Date Written: June 8, 2021


Recent trends in reforms by African states in the field of International Investment Law (IIL) has been dubbed as the Africanization of IIL. These important debates regarding reform of IIL in Africa foreground innovative aspects of International Investment Agreements (IIA) in contrast to the traditional IIL regime. The debates also remind us of the relative lack of African voices in the global IIL reform agenda. There is however little research that critically analyze the Africanization of IIL thesis.

This article undertakes this analysis. Drawing on TWAIL, it characterizes Africanization of IIL into ‘moderate’ and ‘radical’ reforms. The article analyzes the normative features of Africanization of IIL. In this regard, it enriches existing substantive analysis, and advances the debates by interrogating the contours and blind spots of Africanization in IIL. It argues that the Africanization thesis being so far limited to the IIAs between African states, is a ‘moderate’ response from below to the systemic inequities of the IIL regime. Moderate Africanization of IIL – modest and incremental approach to the reform of IIL engenders challenges for African states as they remain nestled in the neoliberal paradigm. To address this deficit and expand the geographies of African centered IIAs to reform and remake IIL, the article makes the case for a cascading of the Africanization thesis in more radical normative form based on a constellation of strategic moderate changes.

Keywords: Africa, International Investment Law, Reform, Third World Approaches to international Law

JEL Classification: K33, 055, P45

Suggested Citation

Akinkugbe, Olabisi D., Africanization and the Reform of International Investment Law (June 8, 2021). 53 Case W. Res. J. Int'l L. 7 (2021) , Available at SSRN: or

Olabisi D. Akinkugbe (Contact Author)

Dalhousie University - Schulich School of Law ( email )

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