oa Comparative and International Law Journal of Southern Africa - The legal status of concession agreements in international law

Volume 19, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0010-4051



Sovereign states often conclude agreements with private individuals or companies for the performance of various services. Such contracts may include teaching, engineering services or contracts for the exploration and exploitation of the wealth and natural resources of the contracting state. Questions of interest to public international law may be raised when such contracts are concluded between states and foreign nationals and companies. For instance, a controversial and relevant question has been the exact legal status of such contracts in the realm of public international law. Are they "internationalised" contracts to be treated at the same level with treaties and other inter-state agreements? A related question is whether or not a contracting state would infringe norms of general international law were it unilaterally to modify or prematurely terminate a concession agreement subsisting between it and a private company. In this paper, these and other related questions will be raised and discussed with a view to reaching conclusions based on existing state practice, the decisions of arbitral awards and the views of publicists.

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