Resistance and Change in the International Law on Foreign Investment

By M. Sornarajah, Published by Cambridge University Press, April 2015

Since the 1990s, conflicts within international law on foreign investment have arisen as a result of several competing interests. The neoliberal philosophy ensured inflexible investment protection given by a network of investment treaties interpreted in an expansive manner. However, NGOs committed to single causes such as human rights and the environment protested against inflexible investment protection. The rise to prominence of arguments against the fragmentation of international law also affected the development of investment law as an autonomous regime. These factors have resulted in some states renouncing the system of arbitration and other states creating new treaties which undermine inflexible investment protection. The treaty-based system of investment protection has therefore become tenuous, and change has become inevitable. Emphasizing the changes resulting from resistance to a system based on neoliberal foundations, this study looks at recent developments in the area. The book places in their political context the changes in international investment law in response to resistance, explains the rapidity of changes in the light of economic theories and their dismantling when the theories do not work, and highlights the instrumentality of law as a purveyor of power and economic theory. Available at