Though investment protection and liberalization have been a regular feature of IIAs, these have to be complemented with promotion and facilitation at the local level to ensure that host economies are marketed well enough to attract investments and that regulatory and administrative barriers faced by investors in their day-to-day operations are addressed and minimized. To ensure that their economies are competitive, countries have been autonomously developing and implementing facilitation measures locally for some time. However, there currently is no universally accepted definition of what investment facilitation entails, and no multilateral framework governing investment facilitation has taken shape. Despite these difficulties, investment facilitation is increasingly emerging as an essential area for international cooperation and policy-making. Accordingly, this article surveys recent developments in investment facilitation policy-making at the international level. After giving a brief history of efforts in investment facilitation rulemaking at the bilateral and regional levels, it concludes with a section that recalls efforts by G20 members to create rules on investment facilitation and provides an overview of the recently concluded negotiations among a group of WTO members on an investment facilitation agreement.
In August 2022, a tribunal in Lone Star v. Korea issued its decision, reiterating the principle that an investor’s own contributory actions can break the chain of causation and reduce the damages awarded. However, this decision highlights how little attention has been paid under international law to the issue of causation, especially when it comes to formulating the common standards governing causation, including the investors’ contributory conduct. The tribunal‘s approach in this case is also reminiscent of the recurring problem under present international investment law, that is, that tribunals have seldom applied a common set of standards when assessing the causation inquiry. This paper calls for increased attention to be paid to causation analysis at both the primary source level and in academic commentaries.
Innovation and Local Production Under the AfCFTA Protocol on Intellectual Property Rights: A strategic approach to intellectual property rights
The member states of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) adopted the Protocol on Intellectual Property Rights in February 2023 during the 36th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. One of the primary objectives, consistent with the aspirations of Agenda 2063, is to promote inclusive growth and sustainable development, underpinned by a continental market that facilitates the free movement of persons, capital, goods, and services. The protocol seeks to promote access to knowledge and technology transfer by emphasizing cooperation and the importance of using the flexibilities provided in existing international intellectual property rights regimes. Promoting local production under the AfCFTA Protocol offers a route toward more self-reliant, sustainable, and resilient health systems. However, measures promoting local production are often limited by trade and investment treaties, which also protect intellectual property rights. This article is meant to introduce policy measures states can take without foregoing their commitments under those treaties.
The Protocol on Investment to the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area: What’s in it and what’s next for the Continent?
Introduction The Protocol on Investment (POI or Protocol) to the Agreement Establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) has been adopted by African Heads of State on February 18/19, […]
Bridging the Gap Between Investor Rights and Obligations: How academics can contribute to a fairer international law on foreign investment
The academic discussion on international investment law has been marked by the division of international law on foreign investment into two subfields, where one specializes in investor rights and ISDS […]
1. Introduction India’s approach toward the negotiation of international investment agreements (IIAs) has recently been subjected to significant scrutiny. Despite signing its first BIT in 1994, with the United Kingdom, […]
Introduction In late March 2023, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) handed down a much-anticipated judgment on the merits in Certain Iranian Assets (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States […]
Navigating Trade and Investment Treaties to Develop Indonesia’s Sustainable Electric Vehicle Industry Through Technology Transfer
1. Challenges in Developing Indonesia’s Battery and Electric Vehicle Industry Indonesia’s abundant nickel resources position it as a potential key player in the global EV industry, especially in EV battery […]
In this paper, the authors highlight an unexpected synergy between international investment law and state repression that has generally escaped scrutiny. They discuss the full protection and security (FPS) standard, which is commonplace in bilateral investment treaties. They argue that even though international investment lawyers have defended the regime by arguing that it restricts arbitrary and authoritarian state power, investment tribunals have used FPS to demand that states use repressive violence to protect investments. These demands have been put forward even in conditions of social upheaval and resource scarcity, and when investors have themselves directly or indirectly contributed to violence. For this reason, the authors argue that investment lawyers should rethink the relationship between the field and state violence, and those who are concerned about the role of policing in society should pay closer attention to international investment law.
“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”: The Code of Conduct and Reflections on the 44th Session of the UNCITRAL Working Group III
This piece looks at the negotiations at the UNCITRAL Working Group III on Reform of ISDS dealing with the controversial provision on the regulation of double hatting by arbitrators. Through a detailed overview of various countries’ negotiation dynamics, positions, tactics, and the role of the WG Chairman at display during the 44th session, the author evaluates which negotiation tools may or may not bear fruit in the context of complex multiparty negotiations, such as those at the Working Group III.
Looking for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Investment in the WTO Draft Investment Facilitation for Development Agreement
On December 16, 2022, the co-coordinators of the WTO Structured Discussions on Investment Facilitation for Development (IFD) circulated a new negotiating text to WTO members, the Draft IFD Agreement (“Draft IFDA”). WTO members have indicated repeatedly throughout the past 5 years of discussions that the goal of their work is not to promote investment facilitation as such but rather to promote investment for development and, specifically, sustainable development. However, the Draft IFDA establishes a framework of facilitation obligations that apply to all FDI, regardless of whether it tends to promote sustainable development or not. This paper looks at how the Draft IFDA deals with the issue of sustainable development and sustainable investment.
Introduction The relationship between international investment law and sustainable development is complex. Some authors argue that IIAs do not constitute a structural impediment to sustainable development, while maintaining that more […]
In recent years, the “screening” of proposals for inward foreign investment has proliferated. More countries around the world have introduced processes for the review of such proposals, often in particular […]
Introduction In August 2022, rain-induced flooding in Pakistan, which scientists linked to climate change, affected 33 million people and took the lives of 1,500. In July 2022, scorching heat waves […]
IIAs are known to pose various challenges to states, ranging from costly arbitration to delays or abandoning of regulatory action in the shadow of possible litigation. These important costs of IIAs raise the question of whether the treaties offer commensurate advantages to states that enter into them. Central among these claimed positive effects of IIAs is that they improve governance conditions (the rule of law) in host countries. It is on this point that Singapore’s experience with IIAs is particularly instructive. Singapore’s experience, as presented in this essay, highlights the challenges that IIAs can pose in even the best of governance environments and, in turn, raises questions as to the extent to which the treaties are calibrated to the goals that policy-makers and advocates set for them.
UNCITRAL Working Group III and the Assessment of Compensation and Damages: Thinning scope for impactful reform or an opportunity to make a difference?
The paper summarizes the discussions related to the assessment of compensation and damages at UNCITRAL Working Group III on Reform of Investor–State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) and proposes an efficient and straightforward way to reform some of the problematic aspects of ISDS practice. The essay proposes limitations on the use of income-based valuation techniques (discounted cashflow method) in defined circumstances. This reform proposal would align ISDS practice with customary international law, improve the correctness and consistency of arbitral decision making and make the proceedings less costly.
The Hague Rules on Business and Human Rights Arbitration: What role in improving avenues for victims to access justice?
Foreign investment activities of multinational enterprises may, at times, lead to violations of human rights. The existing legal avenues available to populations affected by human rights violations are known to be insufficient. This paper assesses to what extent the Hague Rules on Business and Human Rights Arbitration may offer advantages compared to the traditional means of redress.
An interview with Wolfgang Alschner on Investment Arbitration and State-Driven Reform: New Treaties, Old Outcomes
This interview with Wolfgang Alschner, Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa, explores his new book on investment arbitration and state-driven reform. Alschner argues that new international investment agreements are not solving the problems of their predecessors because they are being interpreted in the same way as old agreements, thereby reproducing old outcomes. His book calls for a change in course for the investment regime, where new treaties inform the reading of old treaties rather than the other way around.
Three key principles for fairer and more effective private sector involvement in international governance processes
This article examines some of the main issues related to business group participation in three major investment policy reform processes. It identifies three general principles that can help ensure private sector stakeholders can participate in international governance processes more fairly and effectively.
The loss compensation clause and the protection and security clause: Two risky provisions neglected by investment treaty reform?
This article examines two key provisions that pose costly arbitration risks for states but are often neglected in investment treaty reform processes. It aims to provide investment treaty negotiators with recommendations on how to better phrase these clauses to minimize the chances of misinterpretation in arbitral tribunals.
This article explores the meaning of the term “frivolous” as understood by the governments participating in the UNCITRAL WGIII ISDS reform process. It argues that participating states have focused on the procedural aspects of the problem by identifying ways to limit frivolous claims without undertaking the important substantive task of defining such claims.
This article argues that the success of efforts to modernize the ECT and prevent the treaty from impeding efforts to transition to clean energy sources will fail unless states participating in the process widen their focus to other IIAs to which they are part.
The conflict between traditional miners in Marmato and Canadian transnational mining companies: Another ISDS dispute over natural resources in Colombia
This article provides historical context for the shift in the transnational legal order that governs mining in Colombia and has provoked an increasing number of socio-political conflicts, leading to ISDS claims.
The human rights case for robust “in accordance with domestic law” provisions in Africa’s international investment law
This article argues that African states should proactively and intentionally use accordance provisions to launch counterclaims against investors that violate domestic legislation enacted to protect human rights. Stand-alone accordance provisions can allow states to set their own standard for corporate liability even where international human rights law—and the arbitrators interpreting it—lags behind.
This article provides an initial assessment of the ECT-based arbitration risk flowing from the COP 26 pledges due to their impact on fossil fuel investments in ECT contracting parties. It further estimates how these impacts could translate into investor–state arbitration claims based on past and ongoing cases in the energy sector.
ICSID tribunals fail to address the imbalance between sustainable development principles and investment protections
The importance of linking sustainable development and FDI has garnered increasing attention in recent years, and IIAs increasingly include sustainable development provisions. However, the architecture and functioning of the investment regime make application of these standards difficult.
The recently rendered decision in Eco Oro v. Colombia highlights many of the problems with policy exceptionalism. Most importantly, it suggests that states cannot, by larding their investment treaties with exceptions and carve-outs, simply avoid reckoning with the fundamental challenges facing the investment treaty system.
Breakthrough in business and human rights binding treaty negotiation but be prepared for a bumpy road ahead
The Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises With Respect to Human Rights recently held its seventh session to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights. While progress has been made, significant challenges still cast dark clouds over the future of this important process.
A comparative approach to compensation in international property law claims: what lessons for international investment law? An interview with lead author, Esmé Shirlow.
The increasing size of awards of compensation made under IIAs is drawing greater scrutiny over the approaches that investment tribunals use to arrive at these—at times staggering—amounts. One question being asked is: How are things being done elsewhere? By contrasting these approaches with approaches used by international investment tribunals, this article seeks to draw out some key policy considerations for the reform of compensation principles.
They concern you more than you know: On the perils and potential of international investment agreements for the Agreement on TRIPS and COVID-19 discussions at the WTO
Talks on a possible COVID-19-related Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) decision aimed at scaling up vaccine and therapeutics production and equitable distribution continue, despite the postponement of the 12th WTO Ministerial Conference. Without coordination between a TRIPS decision and WTO members’ IIA obligations, these obligations could significantly reduce any decision’s effectiveness.
UNCITRAL’s Working Group III—charged with global ISDS reform—has circulated its third draft Code of Conduct for investment adjudicators and suggested means for its implementation and enforcement. This article aims to give negotiators an overview of the Code’s provisions, clarify what they mean in practice, and identify specific key issues.
Of all fossil fuels, coal has the greatest climate impact. However, sovereign decisions to phase out coal inevitably affect the investment of coal power plant operators, frequently leading to disputes concerning compensation for lost profits.
Despite consensus on the ECT’s incompatibility with the global climate agenda, claims that it is well-suited for the clean energy transition persist
This article assesses the degree to which the Energy Charter Treaty can be thought of as a tool to protect renewable energy, and thus aid in energy transition, by analyzing data on ECT-based ISDS cases related to renewable energy investments. The article concludes that proponents of the ECT overstate its potential to have a positive role in the transition to renewable energy.
The end of tax incentives: How will a global minimum tax affect tax incentives regimes in developing countries?
This article investigates the impact of a global minimum tax on the use of tax incentives in developing countries and what transitional arrangements are needed to protect countries from a transfer of tax revenue.
An Interview With Esmé Shirlow on Judging at the Interface: Deference to state decision-making authority in international adjudication
An interview with Esmé Shirlow about her new book, Judging at the Interface: Deference to State Decision-Making Authority in International Adjudication.
The “‘trade-related” conundrum of the EU–Korea FTA Expert Panel: Are FTAs a novel forum to enforce sustainable development goals?
This article discusses the decision of a Panel of Experts, established under the EU–South Korea Free Trade Agreement, which found that South Korea was in breach of the FTA’s sustainable development chapter.
This article takes stock of UNCITRAL WGIII on ISDS reform discussions on the regulation of third-party funding.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced international negotiations, including those related to investment such as the Joint Statement Initiative (JSI) on investment facilitation by a group of WTO member states, and the UNCITRAL WGIII, to move online. Virtual negotiations create new challenges for officials, as well as new opportunities. This article discusses the results of a survey of delegates involved in the JSI and UNCITRAL processes.
An Interview with Nicolás Perrone on Investment Treaties and the Legal Imagination: How Foreign Investors Play By Their Own Rules
This article is an interview with Nicolás Perrone on his new book, Investment Treaties and the Legal Imagination: How Foreign Investors Play by Their Own Rules.
The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) faces criticism for its outdated investment provisions and the threats it poses to the energy transition. This article examines one option for states to solve this problem—withdrawal from the treaty—and what this could mean for the EU and its member states, along with its impact on the energy transition in general.
The ways in which the investment protection regime frames disputes between states and investors misses that these disputes, particularly when they relate to the extractive industry, are embedded in complex social relations. This article calls for a reimagining of these disputes and efforts to resolve them.
This article examines a contract-based dispute, P&ID v. Nigeria, which highlights issues of corruption and lack of transparency in this type of dispute settlement. It concludes that, given the significant public interests at stake in investor–state arbitration, including the possibility that arbitration may facilitate the corrupt transfer of public funds to private actors, they should not be conducted in private.
This article focuses on debunking assumptions surrounding the use of balancing and proportionality in international investment arbitration as a way of successfully reconciling competing interests and conflicting protection obligations vested upon host states.
The uncertain future of the Energy Charter Treaty: Belgium asks the European Court of Justice to rule on the compatibility of the modernized ECT with EU law
The relationship between the ECT and EU law is characterized by complexity and legal uncertainty, especially as far Article 26, the ECT’s dispute settlement mechanism and its application in an intra-EU setting is concerned. This article examines the question of whether the Achmea judgment’s finding on the incompatibility of intra-EU investment arbitration under BITs also affects the dispute settlement mechanism under the ECT
Reconciling the rights of multinational companies under IIAs with the tort liability caused by their subsidiaries
Because of their structure, multinational corporations (MNCs) can resort to IIAs to protect their subsidiaries. At the same time, by virtue of the principles of corporate separation and limited liability, MNCs can take advantage of their structure to avoid liability for the damages caused by their subsidiaries. This paper highlights the need for a more balanced approach with regards to the rights and obligations of MNCs under IIAs.
One of the most striking trends in investment policy over the past decade has been the increased use of investment screening as a policy tool, particularly in developed economies, with the issue becoming more salient with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. This article provides an overview of these developments.
Are interpretative declarations appropriate instruments to avoid uncertainty? The cases of the Colombia–France BIT and the Colombia–Israel FTA
According to the Colombian Constitution, the Constitutional Court must assess the constitutionality of all international treaties after signature and prior to ratification. In two recent landmark decisions, the court assessed the constitutionality of the BIT signed with France in 2014 and of the FTA signed with Israel in 2013. This article examines these decisions and identifies some areas of concern.
Does the investment treaty regime promote good governance? The case of mining in Santurbán, Colombia
Investment treaties and arbitration are argued, by proponents of the regime, to contribute to “good governance” in host states. This article, based on an empirical study of mining investments in the Colombian páramo, argues that the conception of good governance promoted by investment arbitration is incomplete and does not adequately consider the role of courts in providing checks and balances.