The Rise of Investor–State Arbitration: Politics, law, and unintended consequences

By Taylor St John, Published by Oxford University Press, May 2018

Why did governments create a special legal regime in which foreign investors can bring cases directly against states? This book takes readers through the key decisions that created investor–state arbitration, drawing on internal documents from several governments and extensive interviews to illustrate the politics behind this new legal regime. It argues that, at the creation of the investor-state regime, the lobby of corporations and law firms that dominate investor–state arbitration today were not present. It shows that powerful states did not have a strong preference for the specific dispute settlement regime and that there was no evidence that it would facilitate investment. The book explains how the actions of international officials with peacebuilding and development aims kicked off a process of gradual institutional development. It argues that institutions do not determine the purposes to which they may be put and illustrates how unintended consequences emerge and why institutions persist regardless of a pre-determined objective. Available at