‘Treaties can influence expropriation’
SOUTH Africa has entered into 49 bilateral investment treaties since 1994, but only 22 were ratified and tabled in Parliament.
This emerged yesterday when South African Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation Xavier Carim briefed the ad hoc committee mandated to consider the amendment of the Constitution to allow expropriation of land without compensation.
Carim said the bilateral investment treaties did not make specific reference to land, but they extended protection to asset-based investments.
“Bilateral investment treaties recognise the rights of host countries to expropriate foreign property but that is subject to requirements,” he said.
Thus, Carim said, lawful expropriation of foreign investment had to be taken on public purpose and on a non-discriminatory basis under due process of law and based on prompt and adequate compensation.
Carim also said, according to the Vienna Convention Treaty, a government could not invoke its internal laws, including the Constitution, as justification for not meeting the treaty’s obligation.
“This is an important consideration for the committee,” he said.