Power and Justice in International Investment Law: China’s Rise and Its Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations vis-à-vis the African Host State Population

  • Anna Hankings-Evans


The increasing economic engagement of emerging states such as China raises concerns, especially in Western scholarly work, as to the growing influence and negative impact of China on international law. South-South investment relations are especially being put under heightened scrutiny. In this regard, it has been argued that the rise in economic legalisation efforts, for instance the signing of BITs, would politically alter the balance of power between developed and developing states. The present article intends to take a closer look at the human rights implications of Chinese investment agreements with African states. It, therefore, firstly identifies a lack of justice-based provisions that hinders the systemic integration of human rights law and international investment law. Secondly, it suggests that China’s human rights approach when engaging in investment relations does not necessarily differ from investment approaches of traditional partners since China utilises the underlying power implications by Westernising its investment treaties. Yet, the overall failed integration of justice considerations into international investment law must rather be considered a result of both structural deficiencies and colonial legacy, a legacy that till today hinders essentially the implementation of policy space, human rights and the right to development.