internationaltradeSuccessful advocates know that advocacy plans are not best loose guides, and that successful advocacy strategies are characterized not by their ability to proceed along a predefined track but by their ability to adopt to changing circumstances.

On November 24, SEATINI Uganda pre-launched an Advocacy Guide for Civil Society on Investment Treaties. The guide developed by SEATINI and Traidcraft is a tool aimed to equip civil society groups in Africa with the information and analysis they need to conduct effective advocacy work around investment agreements and their impact on sustainable development. The guide targets CSOs, including those working on trade, tax, economic policy, environmental issues and human rights.

Investment is a crucial factor in promoting economic development which is key to addressing poverty. This is because investments support structural transformation through facilitating industrial sector development, value addition and generating revenue to governments hence contributing towards sustainable development. To promote investments, governments have engaged in negotiations for Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITS), which are international law instruments i.e. treaties which are negotiated and agreed between two states or parties. The main objective of any BIT is to protect each party’s investments in another (host) country.

However, for BITS to be pro-development in Africa there is a need for the effective participation of key stakeholders including civil society, trade unions, farmer groups, the domestic private sector and academic institutions in the negotiation process. The BITs should be guided by an investment framework that is in line with a country’s /region’s development aspirations, does not constrict a county’s policy space to promote development, balances the rights of the investors and the rights of the host states and promotes, not undermines, the attainment of people’s Economic, Social and Cultural rights (ESCRs).

At the event, participants pre-tested the guide and provided recommendations on how the guide can be more relevant to all of civil society and effective for pro-development advocacy. The event also raised awareness among CSOs on the linkages between investment and development and drummed up interest among CSOs to work on investment in Uganda.

Matilda Nakawungu
FRA Secretariat