Electronic Music History and Today’s Best Modern Proponents!

Electronic music history pre-dates the rock and roll era by decades. Most of us were not even on this planet when it began its often obscure, under-appreciated and misunderstood development. Today, this ‘other worldly’ body of sound which began close to a century ago, may no longer appear strange and unique as new generations have accepted much of it as mainstream, but it’s had a bumpy road and, in finding mass audience acceptance, a slow one.

Many musicians – the modern proponents of electronic music – developed a passion for analogue synthesizers in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s with signature songs like Gary Numan’s breakthrough, ‘Are Friends Electric?’. It was in this era that these devices became smaller, more accessible, more user friendly and more affordable for many of us. In this article I will attempt to trace this history in easily digestible chapters and offer examples of today’s best modern proponents.

To my mind, this was the beginning of a new epoch. To create electronic music, it was no longer necessary to have access to a roomful of technology in a studio or live. Hitherto, this was solely the domain of artists the likes of Kraftwerk, whose arsenal of electronic instruments and custom built gadgetry the rest of us could only have dreamed of, even if we could understand the logistics of their functioning. Having said this, at the time I was growing up in the 60’s & 70’s, I nevertheless had little knowledge of the complexity of work that had set a standard in previous decades to arrive at this point.

The history of electronic music owes much to Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007). Stockhausen was a German Avante Garde composer and a pioneering figurehead in electronic music from the 1950’s onwards, influencing a movement that would eventually have a powerful impact upon names such as Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream, Brain Eno, Cabaret Voltaire, Depeche Mode, not to mention the experimental work of the Beatles’ and others in the 1960’s. His face is seen on the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, the Beatles’ 1967 master Opus. Let’s start, however, by traveling a little further back in time.

The Turn of the 20th Century

Time stood still for this stargazer when I originally discovered that the first documented, exclusively electronic, concerts were not in the 1970’s or 1980’s but in the 1920’s!

The first purely electronic instrument, the Theremin, which is played without touch, was invented by Russian scientist and cellist, Lev Termen (1896-1993), circa 1919.

In 1924, the Theremin made its concert debut with the Leningrad Philharmonic. Interest generated by the theremin drew audiences to concerts staged across Europe and Britain. In 1930, the prestigious Carnegie Hall in New York, experienced a performance of classical music using nothing but a series of ten theremins. Watching a number of skilled musicians playing this eerie sounding instrument by waving their hands around its antennae must have been so exhilarating, surreal and alien for a pre-tech audience!

For those interested, check out the recordings of Theremin virtuoso Clara Rockmore (1911-1998). Lithuanian born Rockmore (Reisenberg) worked with its inventor in New York to perfect the instrument during its early years and became its most acclaimed, brilliant and recognized performer and representative throughout her life.

In retrospect Clara, was the first celebrated ‘star’ of genuine electronic music. You are unlikely to find more eerie, yet beautiful performances of classical music on the Theremin. She’s definitely a favorite of mine!

Electronic Music in Sci-Fi, Cinema and Television

Unfortunately, and due mainly to difficulty in skill mastering, the Theremin’s future as a musical instrument was short lived. Eventually, it found a niche in 1950’s Sci-Fi films. The 1951 cinema classic “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, with a soundtrack by influential American film music composer Bernard Hermann (known for Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”, etc.), is rich with an ‘extraterrestrial’ score using two Theremins and other electronic devices melded with acoustic instrumentation.

Using the vacuum-tube oscillator technology of the Theremin, French cellist and radio telegraphist, Maurice Martenot (1898-1980), began developing the Ondes Martenot (in French, known as the Martenot Wave) in 1928.

Employing a standard and familiar keyboard which could be more easily mastered by a musician, Martenot’s instrument succeeded where the Theremin failed in being user-friendly. In fact, it became the first successful electronic instrument to be used by composers and orchestras of its period until the present day.

It is featured on the theme to the original 1960’s TV series “Star Trek”, and can be heard on contemporary recordings by the likes of Radiohead and Brian Ferry.

The expressive multi-timbral Ondes Martenot, although monophonic, is the closest instrument of its generation I have heard which approaches the sound of modern synthesis.

“Forbidden Planet”, released in 1956, was the first major commercial studio film to feature an exclusively electronic soundtrack… aside from introducing Robbie the Robot and the stunning Anne Francis! The ground-breaking score was produced by husband and wife team Louis and Bebe Barron who, in the late 1940’s, established the first privately owned recording studio in the USA recording electronic experimental artists such as the iconic John Cage (whose own Avante Garde work challenged the definition of music itself!).

The Barrons are generally credited for having widening the application of electronic music in cinema. A soldering iron in one hand, Louis built circuitry which he manipulated to create a plethora of bizarre, ‘unearthly’ effects and motifs for the movie. Once performed, these sounds could not be replicated as the circuit would purposely overload, smoke and burn out to produce the desired sound result.

Consequently, they were all recorded to tape and Bebe sifted through hours of reels edited what was deemed usable, then re-manipulated these with delay and reverberation and creatively dubbed the end product using multiple tape decks.

In addition to this laborious work method, I feel compelled to include that which is, arguably, the most enduring and influential electronic Television signature ever: the theme to the long running 1963 British Sci-Fi adventure series, “Dr. Who”. It was the first time a Television series featured a solely electronic theme. The theme to “Dr. Who” was created at the legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop using tape loops and test oscillators to run through effects, record these to tape, then were re-manipulated and edited by another Electro pioneer, Delia Derbyshire, interpreting the composition of Ron Grainer.

As you can see, electronic music’s prevalent usage in vintage Sci-Fi was the principle source of the general public’s perception of this music as being ‘other worldly’ and ‘alien-bizarre sounding’. This remained the case till at least 1968 with the release of the hit album “Switched-On Bach” performed entirely on a Moog modular synthesizer by Walter Carlos (who, with a few surgical nips and tucks, subsequently became Wendy Carlos).

The 1970’s expanded electronic music’s profile with the break through of bands like Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream, and especially the 1980’s when it found more mainstream acceptance.

The Mid 1900’s: Musique Concrete

In its development through the 1900’s, electronic music was not solely confined to electronic circuitry being manipulated to produce sound. Back in the 1940’s, a relatively new German invention – the reel-to-reel tape recorder developed in the 1930’s – became the subject of interest to a number of Avante Garde European composers, most notably the French radio broadcaster and composer Pierre Schaeffer (1910-1995) who developed a montage technique he called Musique Concrete.

Musique Concrete (meaning ‘real world’ existing sounds as opposed to artificial or acoustic ones produced by musical instruments) broadly involved the splicing together of recorded segments of tape containing ‘found’ sounds – natural, environmental, industrial and human – and manipulating these with effects such as delay, reverb, distortion, speeding up or slowing down of tape-speed (varispeed), reversing, etc.

Stockhausen actually held concerts utilizing his Musique Concrete works as backing tapes (by this stage electronic as well as ‘real world’ sounds were used on the recordings) on top of which live instruments would be performed by classical players responding to the mood and motifs they were hearing!

Musique Concrete had a wide impact not only on Avante Garde and effects libraries, but also on the contemporary music of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Important works to check are the Beatles’ use of this method in ground-breaking tracks like ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, ‘Revolution No. 9’ and ‘Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite’, as well as Pink Floyd albums “Umma Gumma”, “Dark Side of the Moon” and Frank Zappa’s “Lumpy Gravy”. All used tape cut-ups and home-made tape loops often fed live into the main mixdown.

Today this can be performed with simplicity using digital sampling, but yesterday’s heroes labored hours, days and even weeks to perhaps complete a four minute piece! For those of us who are contemporary musicians, understanding the history of electronic music helps in appreciating the quantum leap technology has taken in the recent period. But these early innovators, these pioneers – of which there are many more down the line – and the important figures they influenced that came before us, created the revolutionary groundwork that has become our electronic musical heritage today and for this I pay them homage!

1950’s: The First Computer and Synth Play Music

Moving forward a few years to 1957 and enter the first computer into the electronic mix. As you can imagine, it wasn’t exactly a portable laptop device but consumed a whole room and user friendly wasn’t even a concept. Nonetheless creative people kept pushing the boundaries. One of these was Max Mathews (1926 -) from Bell Telephone Laboratories, New Jersey, who developed Music 1, the original music program for computers upon which all subsequent digital synthesis has its roots based. Mathews, dubbed the ‘Father of Computer Music’, using a digital IBM Mainframe, was the first to synthesize music on a computer.

In the climax of Stanley Kubrik’s 1968 movie ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, use is made of a 1961 Mathews’ electronic rendition of the late 1800’s song ‘Daisy Bell’. Here the musical accompaniment is performed by his programmed mainframe together with a computer-synthesized human ‘singing’ voice technique pioneered in the early 60’s. In the movie, as HAL the computer regresses, ‘he’ reverts to this song, an homage to ‘his’ own origins.

1957 also witnessed the first advanced synth, the RCA Mk II Sound Synthesizer (an improvement on the 1955 original). It also featured an electronic sequencer to program music performance playback. This massive RCA Synth was installed, and still remains, at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, New York, where the legendary Robert Moog worked for a while. Universities and Tech laboratories were the main home for synth and computer music experimentation in that early era.

1960’s: The Dawning of The Age of Moog

The logistics and complexity of composing and even having access to what were, until then, musician unfriendly synthesizers, led to a demand for more portable playable instruments. One of the first to respond, and definitely the most successful, was Robert Moog (1934-2005). His playable synth employed the familiar piano style keyboard.

Moog’s bulky telephone-operators’ cable plug-in type of modular synth was not one to be transported and set up with any amount of ease or speed! But it received an enormous boost in popularity with the success of Walter Carlos, as previously mentioned, in 1968. His LP (Long Player) best seller record “Switched-On Bach” was unprecedented because it was the first time an album appeared of fully synthesized music, as opposed to experimental sound pieces.

The album was a complex classical music performance with various multi-tracks and overdubs necessary, as the synthesizer was only monophonic! Carlos also created the electronic score for “A Clockwork Orange”, Stanley Kubrik’s disturbing 1972 futuristic film.

From this point, the Moog synth is prevalent on a number of late 1960’s contemporary albums. In 1967 the Monkees’ “Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd” became the first commercial pop album release to feature the modular Moog. In fact, singer/drummer Mickey Dolenz purchased one of the very first units sold.

It wasn’t until the early 1970’s, however, when the first Minimoog appeared that interest seriously developed amongst musicians. This portable little unit with a fat sound had a significant impact becoming part of live music kit for many touring musicians for years to come. Other companies such as Sequential Circuits, Roland and Korg began producing their own synths, giving birth to a music subculture.

I cannot close the chapter on the 1960’s, however, without reference to the Mellotron. This electronic-mechanical instrument is often viewed as the primitive precursor to the modern digital sampler.

Developed in early 1960’s Britain and based on the Chamberlin (a cumbersome US-designed instrument from the previous decade), the Mellotron keyboard triggered pre-recorded tapes, each key corresponding to the equivalent note and pitch of the pre-loaded acoustic instrument.

The Mellotron is legendary for its use on the Beatles’ 1966 song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. A flute tape-bank is used on the haunting introduction played by Paul McCartney.

The instrument’s popularity burgeoned and was used on many recordings of the era such as the immensely successful Moody Blues epic ‘Nights in White Satin’. The 1970’s saw it adopted more and more by progressive rock bands. Electronic pioneers Tangerine Dream featured it on their early albums.

With time and further advances in microchip technology though, this charming instrument became a relic of its period.

1970’s: The Birth of Vintage Electronic Bands

The early fluid albums of Tangerine Dream such as “Phaedra” from 1974 and Brian Eno’s work with his self-coined ‘ambient music’ and on David Bowie’s “Heroes” album, further drew interest in the synthesizer from both musicians and audience.

Kraftwerk, whose 1974 seminal album “Autobahn” achieved international commercial success, took the medium even further adding precision, pulsating electronic beats and rhythms and sublime synth melodies. Their minimalism suggested a cold, industrial and computerized-urban world. They often utilized vocoders and speech synthesis devices such as the gorgeously robotic ‘Speak and Spell’ voice emulator, the latter being a children’s learning aid!

While inspired by the experimental electronic works of Stockhausen, as artists, Kraftwerk were the first to successfully combine all the elements of electronically generated music and noise and produce an easily recognizable song format. The addition of vocals in many of their songs, both in their native German tongue and English, helped earn them universal acclaim becoming one of the most influential contemporary music pioneers and performers of the past half-century.

Kraftwerk’s 1978 gem ‘Das Modell’ hit the UK number one spot with a reissued English language version, ‘The Model’, in February 1982, making it one of the earliest Electro chart toppers!

Ironically, though, it took a movement that had no association with EM (Electronic Music) to facilitate its broader mainstream acceptance. The mid 1970’s punk movement, primarily in Britain, brought with it a unique new attitude: one that gave priority to self-expression rather than performance dexterity and formal training, as embodied by contemporary progressive rock musicians. The initial aggression of metallic punk transformed into a less abrasive form during the late 1970’s: New Wave. This, mixed with the comparative affordability of many small, easy to use synthesizers, led to the commercial synth explosion of the early 1980’s.

A new generation of young people began to explore the potential of these instruments and began to create soundscapes challenging the prevailing perspective of contemporary music. This didn’t arrive without battle scars though. The music industry establishment, especially in its media, often derided this new form of expression and presentation and was anxious to consign it to the dustbin of history.

1980’s: The First Golden Era of Electronic Music for the Masses

Gary Numan became arguably the first commercial synth megastar with the 1979 “Tubeway Army” hit ‘Are Friends Electric?’. The Sci-Fi element is not too far away once again. Some of the imagery is drawn from the Science Fiction classic, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”. The 1982 hit film “Blade Runner” was also based on the same book.

Although ‘Are Friends Electric?’ featured conventional drum and bass backing, its dominant use of Polymoogs gives the song its very distinctive sound. The recording was the first synth-based release to achieve number one chart status in the UK during the post-punk years and helped usher in a new genre. No longer was electronic and/or synthesizer music consigned to the mainstream sidelines. Exciting!

Further developments in affordable electronic technology placed electronic squarely in the hands of young creators and began to transform professional studios.

Designed in Australia in 1978, the Fairlight Sampler CMI became the first commercially available polyphonic digital sampling instrument but its prohibitive cost saw it solely in use by the likes of Trevor Horn, Stevie Wonder and Peter Gabriel. By mid-decade, however, smaller, cheaper instruments entered the market such as the ubiquitous Akai and Emulator Samplers often used by musicians live to replicate their studio-recorded sounds. The Sampler revolutionized the production of music from this point on.

In most major markets, with the qualified exception of the US, the early 1980’s was commercially drawn to electro-influenced artists. This was an exciting era for many of us, myself included. I know I wasn’t alone in closeting the distorted guitar and amps and immersing myself into a new universe of musical expression – a sound world of the abstract and non traditional.

At home, Australian synth based bands Real Life (‘Send Me An Angel’, “Heartland” album), Icehouse (‘Hey Little Girl’) and Pseudo Echo (‘Funky Town’) began to chart internationally, and more experimental electronic outfits like Severed Heads and SPK also developed cult followings overseas.

But by mid-decade the first global electronic wave lost its momentum amidst resistance fomented by an unrelenting old school music media. Most of the artists that began the decade as predominantly electro-based either disintegrated or heavily hybrid their sound with traditional rock instrumentation.

The USA, the largest world market in every sense, remained in the conservative music wings for much of the 1980’s. Although synth-based records did hit the American charts, the first being Human League’s 1982 US chart topper ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby?’, on the whole it was to be a few more years before the American mainstream embraced electronic music, at which point it consolidated itself as a dominant genre for musicians and audiences alike, worldwide.

1988 was somewhat of a watershed year for electronic music in the US. Often maligned in the press in their early years, it was Depeche Mode that unintentionally – and mostly unaware – spearheaded this new assault. From cult status in America for much of the decade, their new high-play rotation on what was now termed Modern Rock radio resulted in mega stadium performances. An Electro act playing sold out arenas was not common fare in the USA at that time!

In 1990, fan pandemonium in New York to greet the members at a central record shop made TV news, and their “Violator” album outselling Madonna and Prince in the same year made them a US household name. Electronic music was here to stay, without a doubt!

1990’s Onward: The Second Golden Era of Electronic Music for the Masses

Before our ‘star music’ secured its hold on the US mainstream, and while it was losing commercial ground elsewhere throughout much of the mid 1980’s, Detroit and Chicago became unassuming laboratories for an explosion of Electronic Music which would see out much of the 1990’s and onwards. Enter Techno and House.

Detroit in the 1980’s, a post-Fordism US industrial wasteland, produced the harder European influenced Techno. In the early to mid 80’s, Detroiter Juan Atkins, an obsessive Kraftwerk fan, together with Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson – using primitive, often borrowed equipment – formed the backbone of what would become, together with House, the predominant music club-culture throughout the world. Heavily referenced artists that informed early Techno development were European pioneers such as the aforementioned Kraftwerk, as well as Yello and British Electro acts the likes of Depeche Mode, Human League, Heaven 17, New Order and Cabaret Voltaire.

Chicago, a four-hour drive away, simultaneously saw the development of House. The name is generally considered to be derived from “The Warehouse” where various DJ-Producers featured this new music amalgam. House has its roots in 1970’s disco and, unlike Techno, usually has some form of vocal. I think Giorgio Moroder’s work in the mid 70’s with Donna Summer, especially the song ‘I Feel Love’, is pivotal in appreciating the 70’s disco influences upon burgeoning Chicago House.

A myriad of variants and sub genres have developed since – crossing the Atlantic, reworked and back again – but in many ways the popular success of these two core forms revitalized the entire Electronic landscape and its associated social culture. Techno and House helped to profoundly challenge mainstream and Alternative Rock as the preferred listening choice for a new generation: a generation who has grown up with electronic music and accepts it as a given. For them, it is music that has always been.

The history of electronic music continues to be written as technology advances and people’s expectations of where music can go continues to push it forward, increasing its vocabulary and lexicon.

The Alliance One investment Case – Implications From the Cancellation of a Concession in Mozambique

A US firm stripped of investment rights without notice

In 2005, the Government of Mozambique decided to withdraw the award of the Chifunde concession from the Alliance One. Which was formed out of a merger between the US-based companies Dimon and Stancom, both of whom held concessions in the Mozambican provinces of Niassa, Tete and Manica.

International observers find the government’s decision to switch the concession from Dimon to MLT illegal, since it violates existing investment agreements signed by the Government. According to Government’s officials, the reason is simply clear. The government wants tobacco processing to happen in Mozambique, and so urged all the concessionary companies to build processing plants. Adding that only MLT responded, and has built the second largest processing plant in Africa in Tete City. This explains that: its reward was the Chifunde concession (quoted from Savana Newspaper of May 2006).

The present article outlines the legal basis and requisites for a dispute settlement initiative in case of remedy and compensation for the claimants. It reviews different alternatives available for a conciliation / dispute settlement mechanism and suggests the most efficient process towards this goal.

The Legal basis for a conciliation / arbitration claim

There are different legal frameworks under which the investment dispute can be settled. The following instruments are, more or less, all relevant for this case which mainly relates to the protection of investment rights, including concession rights, and expropriation procedures:

The Chifunde Concession Agreement (between the Government of Mozambique and the tobacco companies: Alliance One viz. Stancom and Dimon). For the moment we do not have this document, which is the most important to understand the case. It should be obtained asap.

The Mozambican Investment code: Law No. 3/93 of June 24, 1993, on Investment and subsequent amendments contained in Decree No. 14/93 on July 21, 1993 and decree No. 36/95 on August 8, 1995.

The Mozambican law holds that “when deemed absolutely necessary for weighty reasons of national interest or public heath and order, the nationalization or expropriation of goods and rights…shall (result in the owner being) entitled to just and equitable compensation.”

The US-Mozambique BIT of December 1, 1998, which came into effect on March 3, 2005, and the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) signed on June 21, 2005, which establishes a Council on Trade and Investment charged with the task of holding consultations and work towards the removal of impediments to bilateral trade and investments. Since the investor is composed of US companies, the BIT is the major instrument which should be used for legal reference.

The Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States also known as the ICSID Convention. This convention, which established International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes ((ICSID), was adopted on March 18, 1965 and entered into force on October 14, 1966, when it had been ratified by 20 countries. As on April 10, 2006, 143 countries have ratified the Convention to become Contracting States. It was ratified by both Mozambique and the USA, and entered into force for as follows:

(a) Mozambique ratification/accession to the convention (Resolution no. 10/92 of the Assembleia da República, Bulletim da República, 25 September 1992, I Série (39) pag. 197 (3) 2o Supplemento).

(b) The United States of America: ratification of the convention:

– Signature of convention on August 27, 1965

– Deposited the instrument of ratification on June 10, 1966

– Entry into force of the convention: October 14, 1966

The Convention establishing the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency – MIGA, concluded at Seoul (Korea), on October 11, 1985. It entered into force on April 12, 1988. Both the uS and Mozambique are members of MIGA.

Mozambique: ratification/accession to the MIGA convention (Resolution no. 9/92 of the Assembleia da República, Bulletim da República, Maputo 25 September 1992, I Série (39) pag. 197 (3) 2o Supplemento ).

MIGA, a member of the World Bank Group, routinely provides an umbrella of deterrence against government actions that could disrupt insured investments and helps resolve potential disputes to the satisfaction of all parties–both of which enhance investor confidence in the safety of investments and encourage the flow of foreign direct investment. In order to prevent a potential claims situation from escalating, MIGA provides free mediation services to all its clients. This service has been very effective to date, with all cases but three reaching an amicable resolution.

In addition to ensuring the safety of projects guaranteed by MIGA, the agency helps countries improve their investment climates by working to remove the obstacles to the flow of foreign investment. One of these obstacles is the existence of disputes between investors and the countries that host the investments.

Alternative dispute mechanisms

According to the US-Mozambique BIT, the arbitration mechanisms available are as spelled out in Article IX.2., which offers various arbitration alternatives:

(a) the national courts or administrative tribunals of the investment’s host country ;

(b) any other ” previously agreed dispute settlement procedures” ;

(c) the ICSID [see also article I (i) and (j)] if it is available, if ninety days have elapsed after the dispute arose, and if the claimant did not submit the dispute under mechanisms (a) or (b).

(d) the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules

(e) any other arbitration institution as agreed by both parties or in accordance with any other arbitration rules.

It is noteworthy to observe that the aggrieved party may seek “interim injunctive relief, not involving the payment of damages, before the judicial or administrative tribunals” of the host party (article IX,3.b). It is not however a compulsory duty for the claimant to file a petition in the national courts.

According to an international expert’s assessment, to date the Mozambican judicial system has been largely ineffective in resolving commercial disputes. Instead most disputes among Mozambican parties are either settled privately or not at all. For disputes between international and domestic companies, the law closely follows UNCITRAL, the United Nations Commission of International Trade Law. In February 1999 the National Assembly passed alternative dispute resolution (ADR) legislation. The Center for Commercial Arbitration, Conciliation and Mediation (CACM), offers commercial arbitration. This channel is not recommended given the specific nature of the dispute between the government and an international investor covered by a BIT.

Practically, the first remedy available to the claimant is to lodge a plaint / an administrative appeal (if it was not done before) against the Government’s decision. This should be in respect with the Concession Agreement concluded between the Government and the investor.

The next channel for an immediate legal remedy, before any judicial recourse, should be a conciliation / consultation process which is provided for under both the US-Mozambique BIT (Article X.1.) and the ICSID Convention (article 28).

Local tribunals and courts: the first competent institution should be the national courts and tribunals. In Mozambique, the national courts are competent to adjudicate any disputes arising from illegal government’s decisions. However, given the state of independence and competence of judicial officers, it would be a strategic mistake to seek redress in the national courts, hence the necessity to pursue the following alternatives.

The US-Mozambican Council on Trade and Investment was established under the TIFA of 2005. This is a high level diplomatic mechanism which is optional, and not compulsory. Its decision would be some how very slow, but would be most compelling given the level of cooperation and the need for protection of US investments in Mozambique.

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. The ICSID Convention stipulates in its article 25.1. that “The jurisdiction of the Centre shall extend to any legal dispute arising directly out of an investment, between a Contracting State (or any constituent subdivision or agency of a Contracting State designated to the Centre by that State) and a national of another Contracting State, which the parties to the dispute consent in writing to submit to the Centre. When the parties have given their consent, no party may withdraw its consent unilaterally.”

The settlement of the dispute under the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency – MIGA. Both the US and Mozambique are members of MIGA. However investments are covered by MIGA according to specific request by members and specific areas of interest. It remains necessary to ask the claimant if the investment under dispute is covered by the MIGA insurance, since with limited information, we are unable to ascertain these facts. The MIGA conciliation mechanism is free and very effective.

The main issues raised by the arbitration initiative

Obviously, apart from the US-Mozambique BIT conciliation mechanism as a priority option, the ICSID is the most advisable alternative for the settlement of such as dispute. The review of past and current ICSID cases is very instructive when it comes to the ultimate decision for the case under review. This cases include the World Duty Free Company Ltd. v. The Republic of Kenya, a $500 million arbitration case concerning the illegal cancellation of a concession for duty free services at the international airport in Nairobi (JKIA) which started in January 15, 2001. This is why we believe that some specific concerns need to be studied further for this alternative

1. Investments covered: (is the claimant entitled to legal protection under the ICSID ?)

According to article I (d) of the US-Mozambique BIT, investments covered include “every kind of investment owned or controlled directly or indirectly by that national or company, and includes investments consisting or taking the form of :

(iii) contractual rights, such as ……… concessions, or other similar contracts”

2. The consent of the parties to the dispute for an ICSID arbitration

ICSID rules require in article 25, the consent of both parties. For this case, the US-Mozambique BIT has already included provisions where both parties have consented to the ICSID arbitration mechanisms. It would however be necessary to inform the Government of Mozambique of the decision to seek dispute settlement through ICSID.

3. The issue of time limit for filing a petition:

Unless the concession agreement (or the investment authorization issued by the Government of Mozambique) has established other dispute resolution procedures and specific time limits, there is no pre requisites for lodging an investment petition. There is no time limit for submitting a preliminary petition to the ICSID Secretary General. However after the appointment of the tribunal by the ICSID, time limits are imposed for subsequent procedures.


The 2005 decision by the Government of Mozambique to withdraw the award of the Chifunde concession from the Alliance One was an act of discretionary powers. But the Government’s decision remains a violation of legally awarded investment rights (according to the Concession agreement). The Alliance One consortium was formed out of a merger between the US-based companies Dimon and Stancom, both of whom held concessions in the Mozambican provinces of Niassa, Tete and Manica.

The national laws and international agreements offer various remedies to the illegal cancellation of investment rights. The national investment code provides for compensation even in case of expropriation for weighty national interests or other compelling health or environmental reasons.

It is advisable to initiate as soon as possible, all available administrative appeal, conciliation mechanisms, and mediation under the US-Mozambique BIT before any other judicial and international dispute resolution procedures. The judges and arbitrators would like to ascertain that all legally available channels were used to settle the dispute before reaching the highest and more expensive dispute resolution mechanisms.

In case all mediation / administrative appeal and related initiatives fail, other international mechanisms would be then justified. For a serious and most compelling dispute settlement mechanism, it is advisable to file a petition with the Secretary General of the ICSID for conciliation and later if not successful, for arbitration. For this mechanism, no time limit is required.

However, the US-Mozambique BIT (in its article IX.2. c) requires that no petition can only be submitted to the ICSID conciliation / arbitration, if ninety days have elapsed after the dispute arose, and if the claimant did not submit the dispute under other mechanisms (national courts or other available conciliation mechanisms).

Considering the high costs involved in the ICSID conciliation / arbitration procedure, it is a priority option to consider the mechanism defined under the TIFA (US-Mozambique council). Also alternatively, it would be useful contact the office of the Resident, World Bank, Maputo, for a prior MIGA conciliation process. It would be also cost effective to agree with the competent government’s department on which alternative should be used as agreed by both parties. In case there would be no response, the BIT is very clear on the dispute settlement mechanisms already agreed on.

How to Stop Foreclosure – Save a Home

If you have been remiss in paying your home mortgage loan, you can still prevent your creditor from initiating a foreclosure sale. Here are top seven “stop foreclosure save home” tips:

1. Acknowledge the problem. It is better to act early on, before your unpaid dues have piled up. Then you will have more options and remedies for reinstating or restructuring your mortgage loan and avoiding that dreaded foreclosure.

2. One of the most common foreclosure myths is that banks are out to get your house. Banks, like individuals, need to be liquid, and would rather get paid with cash than acquire homes which have to be sold to convert to cash. Banks also understand the state of the economy, and can be reasonable as much as they can. Call your creditor to see if you can work out an arrangement that can works for both parties.

3. Keep communication lines with your creditor open at all times. When you begin defaulting in your payments, the initial communications from your creditor will consist of offers to help you through your financial difficulties and avoid foreclosure proceedings. Ignoring them in bad faith will lead your creditor to feel unsecured, and will soon move to threatening notices of their legal remedies. The court doesn’t honor “failure to check my mail” as an excuse for liability.

4. Most of the time, the information that you need (such as loan terms, restructuring, etc.) can be found in the loan documents. Take a good look at them again to find out what steps or solutions are available to you. You can also get more information on your rights as a mortgage debtor by researching on foreclosure laws, time frames, reglementary and prescription periods in your state from the State Government Housing Office.

5. Consult a counselor. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers free consultation to embattled homeowners on matters such as low-cost housing and foreclosure prevention measures. Best of all, counselors can help you to objectively evaluate your current financial situation, and help you arrive at solutions like managing your finances better, as well as intercede with your creditor, if needed.

6. Spend only for what you need. Part of managing your finances and making sure that you have enough funds for debts as they fell due is prioritizing your expenditures. Expenses like healthcare and your home mortgage loan payments should be at the top of your priorities list. Other expenses like food, utilities and unsecured credit card debts can be lessened while others can be done away with altogether. You don’t really need cable TV, gym or club membership or movies or shopping, do you? You can always put them back into your list when you’re sure that you can sufficiently handle your home mortgage debt.

7. Liquidate your assets. This is the time to live within one’s means, or to trim your lifestyle down to
the barest essentials. When you are trying to save your home, it should be easy to decide to sell the second and third car, insurance policies, jewelry or other signature stuff. Also, now is the time for other members of the family to try to be productive and help out. Look for ways to generate additional income. While they may not produce enough funds to pay for your loan, such measures are a good indication to creditors that you are doing something about your finances and are intent on paying.