Shareholders’ Rights in International Law: (Con)temporary Reflections in the Diallo Case
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In the 21st century there is still an ongoing intensive discussion among practitioners and scholars as to whether, under international law, an independent right to property exists. When the International Court of Justice (hereinafter – ICJ) announced its decisions in the Ahmadou Sadio Diallo case (Republic of Guinea v. Democratic Republic of Congo, 2007, 2010, 2012; hereinafter – Diallo), these debates intensified. This article analyzes the decisions of the Diallo case, as this case is a valuable source which: (a) help to determine the approach of the most authoritative Court towards the right to property in international law, and (b) assist in evaluating the chance of defending the rights of shareholders in the ICJ. After examination, several observations are made. First, althought Guinea claims that the core issue in the case is a violation of property rights, the ICJ is not willing to elaborate on the right to property, its scope, or its content. This silence leads to further queries on the understanding of the concept of a global right to property. Second, the World Court rules that diplomatic protection based on the rule of protection by substitution does not amount to an international custom. A conclusion is made that the Diallo case is not a repetition of a standard discussed in the Barcelona Traction, Light and Power Company, Limited case (Belgium v. Spain, 1970; hereinafter – Barcelona Traction), but rather a reflection of a narrowed standard of Barcelona Traction. Therefore, the ICJ is not an amiable forum for the protection of the property rights of shareholders.
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