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Volume 690: debated on Wednesday 21 March 2007

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What treaties and agreements are in force relating to the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes giving protection to investors in Zimbabwe who are nationals of (a) the United Kingdom, and (b) other European Union member states. [HL2603]

The UK signed an investment promotion and protection agreement (IPPA) with Zimbabwe on 1 March 1995, but this has yet to be ratified. Ratification of the IPPA would allow present and future UK investors to take the Government of Zimbabwe to international arbitration if they illegally expropriated a UK investment.

However, to ratify this IPPA the Government of Zimbabwe would need to change their constitution to allow international agreements to take precedence over national law. Current UK investments in Zimbabwe are not protected by international agreement.

Our embassy in Harare continues to press the Government of Zimbabwe to ratify the agreement, so far without success. Ratification is unlikely to take place in the current economic and political climate.

Three EU member states, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, have bilateral investment protection agreements in force which relate to the World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Seven other EU member states, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal and Sweden have signed bilateral investment treaties with Zimbabwe which also relate to ICSID. None has been ratified.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the fact that Zimbabwe is no longer a member of the Commonwealth means that the situation in that country will not be discussed at any point during the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. [HL2668]

The agenda for the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in November has not yet been established. Since Zimbabwe withdrew from the Commonwealth in December 2003 and has not subsequently sought to rejoin, it is unlikely to be part of the formal agenda of the meeting.