Policy Analysis

Reconceptualizing International Investment Law: Its role in sustainable development

May 22, 2013

This essay provides an overview of the evolution of international investment treaties since their origins in 1959.

It focuses on the purposes, goals and rationales put forward for their development, and in particular their uptake by developing countries. In the face of growing criticisms and concerns about these treaties, the essay argues that the original purposes can no longer justify the overall regime and the risks it poses to sustainable development through its opaque processes and vague standards. Rather, the author argues that the purpose and rationale of the treaties must be shifted to fully encompass the central and critical relationship between FDI and sustainable development, particularly but not exclusively for developing countries. If this is done, options for reform are available. But anything less than this type of paradigm shift cannot address the fundamental problems the regime faces as part of a modern public international component for globalization.

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