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Article

CSOs call for investment policies that respect local communities' rights & reduce inequality

"EAC Civil Society Organizations Call for More People-Centred Invesment Policies in the Region"

 

...[The] EAC Partner States have continued to strengthen their efforts to make the region one investment destination and the most attractive world over. Currently, most investment promotion initiatives including the policies, laws and the agreements being developed, negotiated and signed in the region are focused on growing Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) inflows as the cornerstone of development. This ideology has further been pursued through the inclusion of binding provisions that guarantee such investments protection by the host state. These provisions have systematically been adopted globally and have narrowed the policy space of states to be able to regulate investments in their citizens’ development interests.

 Recent developments have also seen the rise of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as an alternative source of funding for public investments. However, the process and mechanisms of negotiating and signing PPP contracts has remained largely unknown to the public, despite the fact that these contracts are as equally binding as International Investment Agreements. Consequently, despite numerous catchy promises, FDIs in the EAC in many instances have exacerbated poverty and inequality and contributed to human rights abuses such as forced evictions, food insecurity, violation of labour rights, environmental degradation, among others.

 Indeed, while the role of investments, whether foreign or domestic, private or public, in contributing to the development of the EAC region cannot be overemphasized, investment policies, laws and agreements must balance between the protection of investors’ rights and human/ community rights. In order to achieve this, CSOs recommend a more people centered approach to investment policy and deal making. These laws should be responsive to people’s human rights, promote gender equity and support environment sustainability for the attainment of sustainable development.