The beginning of the process
The process that eventually led to the establishment of the CONNEX Support Unit was initiated in 1999 by the Research Branch, led by Karl P. Sauvant, of UNCTAD’s Investment Division. The proposal was to create an investment contract aid facility (ICAF) that would help developing countries negotiate better contracts for large-scale projects involving foreign investors. It was first tested in a workshop involving private sector participants and organized by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation in London in February 2002, followed by an informal UNCTAD workshop in December 2003.
The process then shifted to Columbia University, where the Columbia Program on International Investment (CPII – a joint center of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute at Columbia University) hosted an event in May 2006 to obtain feedback from legal experts, which was supplemented by consultations with representatives of the least developed countries.
The process received further important impetus when the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance, led by Peter Eigen, joined the effort. A series of workshops to further develop the idea on “Contract negotiation support for developing host countries” followed, with the last one being held in Monrovia, Liberia, in July 2013. Its outcome was the Monrovia Declaration. It called for three complementary approaches to improve existing negotiation support: (1) an information-sharing and coordination mechanism, possibly taking the form of a online database portal; (2) a contract negotiation support center; and (3) a rapid response advisory unit mobilizing multidisciplinary expertise to step in when governments need timely and affordable advice before and during negotiations.
The establishment of the Negotiation Support Portal
The first approach was subsequently implemented by the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI, the renamed CPII). It established the Negotiation Support Portal that provides useful information to negotiators. More specifically, it “aims to address the information-sharing and coordination gap by improving the accessibility and visibility of useful tools & resources and technical support available to assist governments in the investment process” (see http://negotiationsupport.org/about). CCSI also organized workshops to coordinate support providers.
Official initiation at the 2014 G7 Summit in Brussels
The second and third approaches of the Monrovia declaration were taken up by the G7 in 2014 in the framework of the newly launched initiative on Strengthening Assistance for Complex Contract Negotiations, CONNEX in short. The initiative was assigned the task to provide developing country partners with extended and concrete expertise for negotiating complex commercial contracts, building on the work that had been done before.
Download the documents of the Brussels Summit Declaration here.
Reaffirmation during the 2015 G7 Summit in Elmau and the 2016 G7 Summit in Ise-Shima
During the German Presidency, the 2015 G7 Summit in Schloss Elmau (Germany) reaffirmed the commitment to the CONNEX Initiative, endorsing also a Code of Conduct for support providers and encouraging pilot projects to be undertaken under the banner of the CONNEX Initiative. The outcomes of the Elmau Summit in regard to the CONNEX Initiative were explicitly welcomed by a Decision of the African Union’s Assembly.
At their Summit in Ise-Shima, held during the Japanese G7 Presidency in May 2016, the G7 Leaders committed to intensify the efforts under the CONNEX Initiative, among others by endorsing the CONNEX Guiding Principles towards Sustainable Development, designed to facilitate the mobilization of domestic resources in developing countries, contributing in this manner to the achievement of the SDGs.
Parallel to, but entirely independent from, the discussions leading to the establishment of an institutional structure to support contract negotiations, the government of Germany supported the CONNEX Negotiations Support Forum (NSF) between 2015 and 2017, in the framework of the OECD Policy Dialogue on Natural Resource-based Development. It aimed to improve knowledge sharing and peer-learning on contract negotiation support among partner countries, support providers and investors.
For more information on the discussions and outcomes, please consult the website of the OECD Policy Dialogue on Natural Resource-based Development.
Launch of the CONNEX Support Unit by Germany in January 2017
During the G7 CONNEX Initiative International Conference on Capacity Building and Transparency held in Tokyo in September 2016, and after a series of preparatory meetings in the framework of the G7, the German Chancellor’s Personal Representative for Africa, Günter Nooke, announced the establishment of the CONNEX Support Unit by Germany.
Subsequently, the CONNEX Support Unit, consisting of a Governing Board, an Advisory Committee and a Secretariat, was launched in January 2017. The main function of the Support Unit is to assist requesting developing countries and economies in transition anywhere in the world in negotiating large-scale complex investment contracts, guided only by the interests of the requesting governments. More information on the mandate and activities of the CONNEX Support Unit can be found elsewhere on this website.