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Developing a New Accountability and Dispute Settlement Mechanism on Investment – Expert Meeting

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IISD and the American University Washington College of Law's Program on International and Comparative Environmental Law hosted an expert meeting on “Developing a New Accountability and Dispute Settlement Mechanism on Investment: Lessons from international accountability mechanisms (IAMs).”

The event took place in advance of the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Society of International Law (ASIL). It was held at American University in Washington, D.C. from 12 noon to 5 pm on April 11, 2017.


Investment-related dispute settlement is in flux. In the past two decades, investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) has developed at an unprecedented pace. Invoking investment treaties and investor–state contracts, transnational companies and other investors have been able to sue states challenging a wide range of measures, including public health and environmental measures, and measures involving projects with significant impact on local communities.

With public policy issues at stake and with governments often condemned to pay multimillion dollar awards, public awareness and opposition against investor–state arbitration has increased significantly over the past few years.

In 2014 IISD initiated a process with experts to discuss the simple question: “If investment-related dispute settlement mechanisms at the international level were to be built anew, what should they look like?”

A consensus emerged among experts about the need to address the fact that people who are negatively affected or harmed by investment operations lack effective access to justice under international and domestic law, while foreign investors have access to international dispute settlement under treaties and contracts.

Building on the results of the 2014 meeting and recent developments in international practice regarding investment-related dispute settlement, IISD held a second expert meeting in May 2016. 

Given the extensive expertise of the Washington-based community, and in light of the current developments such as the European Union’s proposed Investment Court System and new institutions like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the New Development Bank, the April 2017 expert meeting discussed ways forward on a compliance and dispute settlement mechanism on investment.

For more information, please refer to the agenda and the background paper. Click here to read the meeting report, without attribution to commentators.

Event details

  • April 11, 2017

  • American University, Washington, DC, United States

  • +41 22 917 8683