Analysis

Third-Party Funding and the Objectives of Investment Treaties: Friends or foes?

This piece examines recent trends in the use of third-party funding (TPF) in treaty-based ISDS and the implications of TPF for investor conduct, developments in investment law and host state conduct. TPF has been raised in two multilateral processes currently underway: the talks to amend ICSID arbitration rules and to consider multilateral reform of ISDS at UNCITRAL. Given the narrow nature of the TPF discussions in ICSID, the authors make the case for policy-makers to consider full or partial bans of TPF at UNCITRAL.

A Bit of Anti-Bribery: How a corruption prohibition in FIPAs can bring a minimum standard of conduct for Canadian investors abroad

Tackling corruption is a crucial step in meeting the objectives set out in SDG 16 on “Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions” and for achieving the SDGs overall. Canada’s investment treaties could play a valuable role in addressing corruption. The piece draws from examples such as Canada’s Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) program and examines some of the asymmetries inherent in the current IIA regime. The author analyzes some of the language used in Canada’s more recent treaties, such as CETA and the FIPAs with Moldova and Kosovo, and what lessons can be drawn from these and other agreements.

Spain’s Renewable Energy Saga: Lessons for international investment law and sustainable development

Spain has faced approximately 40 arbitrations since it made the decision in 2010 to rescind or revise various regulatory measures aimed at drawing in greater investments into renewable energy projects. This article examines the awards issued in four of those cases, looking in particular at how the tribunals interpreted and applied the FET standard. The author looks at the potential problems that can emerge when states are unsure of how any given tribunal may interpret FET or other key standards and presents some potential solutions.

Investment Facilitation at the WTO: An attempt to bring a controversial issue into an organization in crisis

The structured discussions on investment facilitation (IF) among 70 WTO members are now 18 months old. Participants are wrapping up their latest phase of work: considering examples of different issues and elements that could form the basis of a multilateral IF framework. The authors examine the history of investment discussions at the WTO and review how international investment governance in other forums has evolved in recent years. They examine what challenges can emerge in crafting IF disciplines, especially if these are binding, and the importance of considering which forums are most appropriate for IF-related discussions.

The Kenyan Parliament and Investment Treaty Making

The Kenyan government has made parliamentary oversight and public participation a constitutionally mandated part of any BIT approval. While that same parliamentary involvement has fallen short of its desired potential, it could still play a valuable role in ensuring that BIT negotiations are open and transparent, and that the public is both aware of and engaged with the treaty-making process and what it means. This piece examines the lessons learned from Kenya’s BIT and ISDS experience to date. The author argues that the Kenyan High Court’s ruling that double taxation treaties do not require oversight and approval from the legislative branch should not set an example for the government as it considers how to revise its investment treaty-making processes.

Investor Due Diligence and the Energy Charter Treaty

The Energy Charter Treaty modernization negotiations are due to begin later this year and a set of topics for parties to consider has already been announced. This piece examines the prospects for updating the ECT’s existing formulation of FET and analyzes how this standard has been interpreted in past arbitrations involving renewable energy disputes. The author argues in favour of including a requirement of investor due diligence as an attempt to help ensure that investors anticipate possible risks that may emerge from changes to a state’s regulatory framework.

Politically Motivated Conduct in Investment Treaty Arbitration

Investment treaty arbitration is often expected to focus on technical issues. In practice, however, domestic political discussions and processes can have a major impact on investment disputes. The authors map out the variety of state conduct characterized by tribunals as politically motivated or influenced. They also examine the different ways in which arbitral tribunals have responded to host state conduct resulting from domestic political considerations.

Phase 2 of the UNCITRAL ISDS Review: Why “other matters” really matter

The April 2019 deliberations on multilateral ISDS reform at UNCITRAL Working Group III were due to tackle a series of questions that emerged in Phase 2 of the process. This piece breaks down why the scope of these discussions should be expanded to include important concerns raised by developing countries, and describes three core issues that must not be ignored. These involve the right to participation by affected parties; the rule of law and domestic courts’ jurisdiction; and the chilling of sovereign states’ authority and responsibility to govern.

Enhancing Environmental Protection in International Investment Law Through the Integration of International Civil Liability Principles

Investor–state arbitration has repeatedly proven ineffective in addressing environmental damages that host states suffer as a result of investment activities. This piece examines what lessons can be learned from international civil liability conventions, which are specifically designed to ensure victims’ compensation in cases of environmental harm. The author then explores which principles from these conventions could be adapted for use in investment treaties.

Protecting Social Rights Using the Amicus Curiae Procedure in Investment Arbitration: A smokescreen against third parties?

Arguments submitted by an amicus curiae (a “friend of the court”) have become increasingly common in investment arbitration. Many of these arguments deal with internationally recognized social rights, such as the right to water or food. This piece considers the restrictive conditions on amici curiae admission, the frequent reference to social rights issues in amici briefs, and the challenges in presenting these social rights arguments. The author advances possible actions that amici and states can take to make their social rights arguments more effective in an investment law context.

Phase 2 of the UNCITRAL ISDS Review: Why “other matters” really matter

UNCITRAL conferred a broad mandate on Working Group III to consider possible reform of ISDS. In Phase 1 governments identified and considered concerns about ISDS. Phase 2, where they consider whether reform is desirable in light of those concerns, is well advanced. The next meeting in New York in April 2019 is expected to conclude this phase and decide how to pursue the final phase, in which governments will develop any relevant solutions to recommend to the Commission. This note addresses three issues at the heart of the legitimacy crisis confronting the international investment regime that should inform the remainder of Phase 2.

Multilateral ISDS Reform Is Desirable: What happened at the UNCITRAL meeting in Vienna and how to prepare for April 2019 in New York

UNCITRAL Working Group III has decided that multilateral reform is desirable to address various concerns regarding ISDS. Its next session will identify other concerns that may have been missed and prepare a work plan to develop solutions. This article reviews the UNCITRAL process so far and helps governments prepare for the upcoming session.

Corporate Social Responsibility Clauses in Investment Treaties

CSR refers to rules and practices companies follow voluntarily to limit the negative social, environmental and other externalities caused by their activities. There is a trend to incorporate CSR standards in investment treaties. Could CSR clauses be useful in consolidating enforceable investor obligations and serving as a basis for state counterclaims?

A Critical Review of the Debate on Investment Facilitation

Investment facilitation is a vague and broad term encompassing administrative simplification for investors. Certain proposals submitted to global forums also include mechanisms giving foreign investors an opportunity to participate in the design process of new regulations. Would multilateral rules on investment facilitation pose risks to domestic regulatory processes?

Reforming Investment Treaties: Does treaty design matter?

The backlash against investment arbitration has led to a wave of investment law reform. Approaches include creating obligations relating to investor conduct, clarifying existing disciplines, safeguarding policy space and revising ISDS mechanisms. This piece investigates the link between investment treaty design and the risk of arbitration claims.

New Egyptian Investment Law: Eyes on sustainability and facilitation

The world is witnessing critical changes in a new generation of investment treaties, laws, policies and regulations. Egypt contributed to this process through revamping its national and international legal frameworks regulating investment. The new Egyptian Investment Law No. 72 of 2017 is at the core of this contribution.

Toward an International Convention on Business and Human Rights

In July 2018, Ecuador’s Ambassador released the zero draft of one of the most important international human rights treaties in recent years. How does this draft measure up to the high expectations and needs expressed by the international community and especially those in need of justice and reparation?

International Investment Law and Sustainable Development: Key cases from the 2010s

IISD is releasing an e-book summarizing and analyzing 10 treaty-based investor–state arbitration cases decided in the 2010s. The cases are relevant to a range of issues relating to sustainable development, including environmental protection, socio-environmental impact assessment, renewable energy, taxation, corruption and human rights.

The 2018 Draft Dutch Model BIT: A critical assessment

In May 2018, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs published its new draft model bilateral investment treaty (BIT), in hopes to foster rethinking of existing and future Dutch BITs. Will this revised model achieve this goal, or does it fall short of the promised policy reset?

The Case Against Third-Party Funding in Investment Arbitration

Third-party litigation funding (TPF) is a rapidly expanding industry composed of speculative investors who invest in a legal claim for control of the case and a contingency in the recovery. In the wake of the global financial crisis and the demand by speculative finance for new investment vehicles, TPF has discovered the regime of bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms.

Making the Right to Regulate in Investment Law and Policy Work for Development: Reflections from the South African and Brazilian experiences

The right to regulate can be defined as states’ sovereign right to regulate in the public interest—their policy space. Because international investment agreements (IIAs) were created to limit certain aspects of countries’ right to regulate, the first wave of IIAs inhibited host countries’ regulatory experimentation that could be harmful to foreign investors’ rights.

Conflicts between Latin American Countries and Transnational Corporations: The challenges of the region in the face of asymmetrical investment treaties

Political positions and laws on foreign investment have been polarized into two opposing perspectives. On the one hand, there is the assumption that foreign direct investment (FDI) is essential for the economies of peripheral countries to take a leap toward development, prompting FDI promotion and even generating competition among countries to attract more investment.

Achmea: The Beginning of the End for ISDS in and with Europe?

Current and future investment treaties and chapters involving EU member states or the Union itself may be profoundly impacted by a landmark ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In this piece, the author explores the judgement from an EU constitutional point of view and analyzes potential consequences. Did the Achmea ruling come as a surprise to EU law insiders?

An Interview with Luis Guillermo Vélez – Director-General of Colombia’s National Agency for the Legal Defense of the State

On the heels of our 11th Annual Forum of Developing Country Investment Negotiators, we interviewed Luis Guillermo Vélez, Director-General of Colombia’s National Agency for the Legal Defense of the State (ANDJE), to capture his experiences on investment negotiations and disputes, his expectations for investment reform processes and views on the value of the Forum.

Government Regulatory Space in the Shadow of BITs: The Case of Tanzania’s Natural Resource Regulatory Reform

Tanzania passed three new laws in July 2017 that significantly change the regulatory landscape governing natural resources. The reforms are aimed at ensuring that foreign investment benefits Tanzanian citizens.From an African perspective, this article argues that it is time to rethink investment treaty regimes to ensure that they do not hinder much-needed reforms.

Review of The Political Economy of the Investment Treaty Regime

In their new book, Jonathan Bonnitcha, LaugePoulsen and Michael Waibel develop a coherent structure for policy analysis of investment treaties that should attract interest as governments review their treaty policies. It argues that investment treaties as currently applied often appear poorly tailored to address identifiable economic concerns.

UNCTAD’s International Investment Agreements Conference 2016: Taking IIA Reform to the Next Level

As part of the World Investment Forum (WIF) 2016,[1] negotiators of international investment agreements (IIAs) and various stakeholders convened at the High-Level IIA Conference on July 19, 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. Some 50 country delegates, parliamentarians, officials of international organizations and civil society representatives discussed the first phase of IIA reform and how to move […]

UNASUR Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes: Comments on the Draft Constitutive Agreement

The future operation of the investment dispute settlement facility of the Union of South American Nations is likely to generate scepticism, as it could undermine international standards in favour of regional parameters and lead to increased instability in the region. Alternatively, it could enhance the legitimacy and popularity of ISDS mechanisms in UNASUR member states. What are the procedural and substantive novelties contained in the Draft Constitutive Agreement?

Can EU Member States Still Negotiate BITs with Third Countries?

Foreign direct investment became part of the sphere of exclusive competence of the European Union in 2009. Since then, the European Commission has been negotiating investment treaties with a number of countries—as well as authorized several individual EU member states to negotiate BITs.