1999 – 2013: The start of the process
In 1999, the Research Branch of UNCTAD’s Investment Division, led by Karl P. Sauvant, proposed the establishment of 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 with the private sector, which was organized by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation (CSFI) in London in 2002 and was followed by an informal UNCTAD workshop in 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. Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance then joined the initiative.
2013: The Monrovia Declaration
After a series of workshops in Monrovia, Liberia, in 2013, the Monrovia Declaration was adopted. It calls for three complementary approaches to improve negotiation support:
(1) an information-sharing and coordination mechanism, possibly taking the form of an online database portal;
(2) a contract negotiation support center;
(3) a rapid response advisory unit mobilizing multi-disciplinary expertise to step in when governments need timely advice before and during negotiations.
2015: Establishment of the Negotiation Support Portal
The first approach was implemented by the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), the renamed CPII, with the establishment of the Negotiation Support Portal, which promotes information-sharing and aims to close the coordination gap by improving the accessibility and visibility of useful tools, resources and technical support available to assist governments in the investment process. CCSI also organized workshops to coordinate support providers.
Negotiation Support Portal
2014: Official launch at the G7 summit in Brussels
The Monrovia Declaration’s second and third approaches were taken up by the G7 in 2014 in the framework of the newly established Strengthening Assistance for Complex Contract Negotiations (CONNEX) Initiative. It was tasked with supporting developing country partners in negotiating complex commercial contracts.
Brussels Summit Declaration
2015/16: Reaffirmation during the G7 summits in Elmau and Ise-Shima
At the Elmau summit during the German G7 Presidency, leaders reaffirmed their commitment to the CONNEX Initiative, also endorsing a Code of Conduct
and encouraging pilot projects under the banner of the CONNEX Initiative. The outcomes of the Elmau summit
regarding the CONNEX Initiative were welcomed in a Decision adopted by the African Union’s Assembly
At their summit in Ise-Shima during the Japanese G7 Presidency in May 2016, the G7 leaders pledged to intensify the efforts under the CONNEX Initiative, for example by endorsing the CONNEX Guiding Principles towards Sustainable Development to facilitate the mobilization of domestic resources in developing countries, thereby contributing to the attainment of the SDGs.
Parallel to, but entirely independent from, the discussions leading to the establishment of an institutional structure to support contract negotiations, the German Government 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, service providers and investors.
OECD Policy Dialogue on Natural Resource-based Development
2017: Launch of the CONNEX Support Unit
During the G7 CONNEX Initiative International Conference on Capacity Building and Transparency in Tokyo in September 2016, the German Chancellor’s Personal Representative for Africa, Günter Nooke, announced the establishment of the CONNEX Support Unit by Germany. It was officially launched in January 2017.