Resources and Events


The Origins of International Investment Law: Empire, environment and the safeguarding of capital

By Kate Miles, Published by Cambridge University Press, July 2015

This book examines the historical evolution of international investment law (IIL), from its origins in the commercial and political expansionism of dominant states during the 17th to early 20th centuries to the continued resonance of those origins within modern IIL. An overview of the activities of the Dutch East India Company, Grotius’ treatises, and pre-World War II international investment disputes provides insight into current controversies surrounding the interplay of public and private interests, the systemic design of investor–state arbitration, the substantive focus of principles, and the treatment of environmental issues within IIL. The book provides a conceptual framework, new understandings, an assessment on trends in investment law and policy, and practical measures for reform. Available at

Investment Contracts for Agriculture: Maximizing gains and minimizing risks

By Carin Smaller and William Speller, with Hafiz Mirza, Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder and Grahame Dixie, Published by the World Bank, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and IISD, June 2015

Private investment in agriculture in developing countries, both domestic and foreign, has been on the rise for nearly two decades. The paper focuses on large-scale agricultural projects in developing countries, involving the lease of farmland. It marries two substantial bodies of research to show how investment contracts can be set up to promote sustainable development. The paper presents the top five positive outcomes and the five downsides from private sector investments in large- scale agricultural projects. The paper then proposes legal options to maximizing the main positive outcomes and minimizing the main downsides through better drafting of contracts between investors and governments for the lease of farmland. This paper contributes to the growing body of international norms and guidance on the conduct of responsible agricultural investment, such as the recently adopted Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems, of the UN Committee on World Food Security (CFS). Available at

World Investment Report (WIR) 2015: Reforming International Investment Governance

By UNCTAD, June 2015

The WIR presents global investment trends in 2014, indicating that global foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows fell by 16 per cent to US$1.23 trillion. FDI flows to developed countries continued to be low, while flows to developing countries increased by 2 per cent to a historic high of US$681 billion, with China as the largest recipient. FDI inflows to Asia increased by 9 per cent to historically high levels, while inflows to Africa remained flat, and inflows to Latin America and the Caribbean decreased by 14 per cent. In the policy realm, government measures continued to be geared towards liberalization, promotion and facilitation. There were relatively few measures for investment in sectors important for sustainable development. The search for reform of the international investment regime continued, as at least 50 countries and regions conducted reviews of their treaty models. The number of investor–state arbitration cases rose by 42 in 2014, bringing the total number to 608. Decisions were rendered in 43 cases, bringing the number of concluded cases to 405. Recognizing the need for systematic reform, UNCTAD suggests focusing on: (1) safeguarding the right to regulate in the public interest, (2) reforming investment dispute settlement, (3) promoting and facilitating investment, (4) ensuring responsible investment, and (5) enhancing the systemic consistency of the regime; the report also presents policy options for meeting these challenges. Finally, the WIR discusses international tax and investment policy coherence, the fiscal contribution of multinational enterprises, and the issue of tax avoidance. Available at

Farmland Investments and Water Rights: The legal regimes at stake

By Makane Moïse Mbengue and Susanna Waltman, Published by IISD, May 2015

The rise of foreign investment in farmland over the past decade is partly driven by a search for access to water resources. Land without water has no value; it is the key ingredient for agricultural production. Over 70 per cent of all freshwater resources are used for agricultural production. However, the value of water has yet to be fully understood or appreciated, and its fundamental role is often overlooked in the context of farmland investments. This report, focused on Africa, provides an overview of the international legal regimes governing water rights and investment in land and the implications for foreign investors, governments and communities. Available at

Events 2015

September 8

BIICL SHORT TRAINING COURSE: HUMAN RIGHTS FOR BUSINESS PEOPLE, British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London, United Kingdom,

September 16

WORKING SESSION “INVESTMENT AND DEVELOPMENT – REFORMING THE INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENT REGIME,” 62nd Session of UNCTAD’s Trade and Development Board, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland,

September 18

25th INVESTMENT TREATY FORUM (ITF) PUBLIC CONFERENCE: THE ICSID Convention AT 50, British Institute of International and Comparative Law, at BMA House, London, United Kingdom,

September 21–22

WORKSHOP ON STRENGTHENING TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FOR RESOURCE-RICH AFRICAN COUNTRIES, Columbia Center for Sustainable Investment, African Legal Support Facility, African Minerals Development Centre, and New Partnership for Africa’s Development, Pretoria, South Africa,

September 25

CIDS INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE 2015: INTERNATIONAL DISPUTE SETTLEMENT AT THE CROSSROADS OF PUBLIC AND PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, and University of Geneva Law School, Geneva, Switzerland,

September 30


October 15–16 


October 21

INTENSIVE COURSE ON ICSID PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE, Secretariat of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, Prague, Czech Republic,

October 26–30