UNASUR Secretary General Ernesto Samper Pizano.jpg

UNASUR-IISD Workshop on the Settlement of Investment Disputes

January 24, 2017 7:00 pm

In collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), IISD organized a workshop on the settlement of investment disputes at the UNASUR headquarters, in Quito, Ecuador, on January 25, 2017.

The idea for the workshop arose in conversations with UNASUR's Legal Director at the 10th Annual Forum of Developing Country Investment Negotiators.

Held one day before a negotiation round of the proposed UNASUR Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, the IISD-led workshop was geared toward South American government delegates involved in the negotiation. 

IISD experts reviewed the criticisms of the existing investor–state arbitration regime, underscored the need for reform and explored reform proposals, including rules on increased transparency, codes of ethics for arbitrators and appellate mechanisms.

Delegates were also challenged to think beyond investor–state arbitration and consider alternatives, including judicial approaches such as the EU proposal for a standing investment court with an appellate mechanism.

IISD showcased its International Dispute Settlement Agency for Transboundary and Other Investments, a result of expert meetings convened by IISD in 2014 and 2016. Designed to provide fact-finding, mediation and adjudication services, the proposed agency would be accessible not only to investors and states, but also to individuals and communities affected by investment activities.

Delegates discussed whether to require exhaustion of local remedies prior to investor–state arbitration, and how to ensure the effectiveness of remedies in local courts. They also showed interest in Brazil’s innovative model, which creates national focal points and a joint committee focused on dispute prevention, and provides for state–state dispute settlement.

In plenary discussions on the strategic role of UNASUR and its proposed centre, delegates expressed their hope that the centre will correct many of the flaws identified in the regime, achieving more just decisions and avoiding abuse of rights and treaty shopping. They view it as a regional alternative carefully negotiated based on the needs arising from the experience of South American countries with investor–state arbitration, and recognize that the negotiations have helped UNASUR grow in its regional cooperation efforts.

All delegates agreed that the UNASUR-IISD workshop was highly useful for their countries. IISD will continue to collaborate with UNASUR and its member state governments, providing legal advice and capacity building on international investment law and dispute settlement.

Spanish event page: https://www.iisd.org/event/taller-unasur-iisd-sobre-solucion-de-controversias-en-materia-de-inversiones-Quito-Ecuador


Event details