A major challenge for investment treaty designers and adjudicators is to separate opportunistic behavior by host states that should be sanctioned under international law from bona fide public policy measures that should not. This article suggests that International Investment Agreements need to be both ‘smarter’ and more ‘flexible’ to better make that distinction. It draws on economic contract theory as a basic framework, and political economy theory for fine-tuning.
Resources Chinese Outward Investment: An Emerging Policy Framework Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder, Lise Johnson, Jianping Zhang, IISD, 2012 This book is an English-language compilation covering over 80 primary texts relevant to Chinese outward investment issued from January 2000 to January 2012. The compilation makes these primary sources easy to access and understand, in an effort to facilitate […]
Claim against Venezuela dismissed; State acted legitimately in response to contractual violations Vannessa Ventures Ltd. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)04/6 Damon Vis-Dunbar A claim by Vannessa Ventures against Venezuela has been rejected on its merits, with the tribunal concluding in January 16, 2013 decision that Venezuela had responded properly to contractual […]
New Rules on Transparency in UNCITRAL Investor-State Arbitration Agreed in New York A United Nations working group agreed in February to new rules that will make at least some investor-state arbitrations conducted under the rules of UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) more transparent. The UNCITRAL rules have long been criticised for allowing investor-state […]
In the 2012 report Profiting from Injustice, jointly published by Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute, we boldly asserted that law firms, arbitrators and third-party funders have, over the past two decades, helped maintain an investor-biased arbitration system and have fuelled the rise in investor-state disputes. Some critics have responded to the report arguing […]
Enabling Risky Business: Human Rights and the Role of Officially Supported Trade Finance and Investment Guarantees
The expanded role played by Export Credit Agencies (ECAs) since the global financial crisis has not been matched with stronger rules that address the human rights-related impacts of ECA financed projects. Given narrow set of regulations that currently apply to ECAs, this brief article argues that more needs to be done to ensure that ECA financed projects do not cause harm to home states.
While an extensive body of literature maps the tensions between regulatory sovereignty and investor protection in international investment law and analyses the balancing of private and public interests in arbitral practice, only a small sub-set of this literature makes reference to public interest considerations at the remedies stage of the investor-state arbitration process.
A Distinction Without a Difference? The Interpretation of Fair and Equitable Treatment Under Customary International Law by Investment Tribunals
Broad interpretations of the standard for fair and equitable treatment (FET) by investment tribunals have become a source of increasing controversy. In theory, linking FET to customary international law (CIL), which is formed through the “general and consistent practice of states” that they follow out of a sense of legal obligation (opinio juris), results in a standard of protection that is more deferential to the regulatory authority of governments than the “autonomous” standard. In practice, however, investment tribunals continue to construe even CIL-based FET provisions to impose broad limits on government authority by accepting, without any evidence of state practice or opinio juris, the pronouncements of previous tribunals as definitive evidence of the standard under CIL.
US$1.76 billion dollar award levied against Ecuador in dispute with Occidental; tribunal split over damages Occidental Petroleum Corporation and Occidental Exploration and Production Company v. The Republic of Ecuador, ICSID Case No. ARB/06/11 Damon Vis-Dunbar The Republic of Ecuador has been ordered to pay US$1,769,625,000 billion in damages—the largest award to be handed down […]
Canada receives investor complaints over provincial energy and environment policies In recent months the government of Canada has received two complaints related to energy and environmental policies adopted by its provinces. Both investors have served Ottawa with notices of intent to submit a claim to arbitration under NAFTA’s investment chapter. A Delaware-based energy firm is […]
Resources Foreign Direct Investment and Human Development: The Law and Economics of International Investment Agreements Edited by Olivier De Schutter, Johan Swinnen, Jan Wouters. Routledge, November 2012 This book presents original research that examines the growth of international investment agreements as a means to attract foreign direct investment and considers how this affects the ability […]
In late 2012, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) officially endorsed an “institutional view” on the management of capital flows. This short note provides an overview of the new IMF view, pinpoints how it may conflict with country obligations under trade and investment treaties, and discusses remedies for reform.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has released its Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development (IPFSD). This article engages in an independent assessment of the IPFSD.
The Sixth Annual Forum of Developing Country Investment Negotiators: Understanding and Harnessing the New Models for Investment and Sustainable Development
The Sixth Annual Forum of Developing Country Investment Negotiators was held on October 29-31, 2012, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. The forum encourages participants to develop their own critical perspectives on issues which are germane to the negotiation of international investment treaties.
Integrating Sustainable Development into International Investment Agreements: A Commonwealth Guide for Developing Country Negotiators
In November 2012 the Commonwealth Secretariat completed a practical guide, titled “Integrating Sustainable Development into International Investment Agreements: A Guide for Developing Countries,” to help enable developing countries to design international investment agreements that support their development needs.
Just as Peru has joined the global trend of concluding investment protection agreements, the country has also been no stranger to the considerable increase in international investment disputes observed in recent years. To address this growth in international investment arbitration in line with its investment attraction policy, Peru has created a system for efficiently and effectively resolving potential disputes.
SADC Model BIT
Resources International Arbitration Case Law This website is a private, not-for-profit academic endeavour, in partnership with the School of International Arbitration, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London. Its objective is to summarize, edit, and coordinate the publication of decisions rendered by arbitral tribunals, international tribunals and national courts in matters of […]
Majority declines jurisdiction in claim against Argentina over domestic litigation requirement Daimler Financial Services AG v. Argentine Republic, ICSID Case No. ARB/05/1 Damon Vis-Dunbar A claim against Argentina by a subsidiary of the German automotive firm Daimler A.G. has failed on its merits because the claimant did not first bring the dispute to court in […]
South Africa begins withdrawing from EU-member BITs South Africa has terminated its bilateral investment treaty with Belgium and Luxembourg, and intends to phase out other treaties with European countries. In a September 7th letter to Belgium’s Ambassador in Pretoria, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations denunciated the treaty, in accordance with the treaty’s termination clauses […]
Towards a New Generation of Investment Policies: UNCTAD’s Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development
On 12 June 2012, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development launched its Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development. IPFSD comes at a time when the international investment regime is in a state of “transition” and when an increasing number of governments are reviewing their investment-related regulatory frameworks, both at the national and international levels.
Dealing With the Increasing Complexity of Investment-Related Treaties: A Framework and Some Policy Guidelines
Bilateral investment treaties used to be boilerplate: taken out of a drawer before official visits; signed with pomp and circumstance but not much attention to precise wording. Today, the diversity and ramifications of investment-related treaties are staggering.
PDF – English (914 KB) – Français (1 MB) – Español (1 MB) Investment Treaties and Investor Corruption: An Emerging Defense for Host States?; Dealing With the Increasing Complexity of Investment-Related Treaties: A Framework and Some Policy Guidelines; Towards a New Generation of Investment Policies: UNCTAD’s Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development; The SADC MODEL […]
From October 1-5, 2012, a working group of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law met in Vienna to continue work on how to ensure transparency in treaty-based investor-state arbitration. It was the working group’s fifth week-long meeting on the topic, but will not be the last.
Bilateral investment treaties are famously asymmetric. They grant investors rights but not obligations, while imposing upon states obligations unaccompanied by rights. Recent cases suggest, however, that BIT tribunals are poised to recognize a defense to state liability that, in effect, imposes upon investors the obligation to avoid involvement in public corruption in the course of making a treaty-protected investment. Despite these suggestive jurisprudential trends, however, the specific contours of the emerging corruption defense are uncertain.
Analysis of the European Commission’s Draft Text on Investor-State Dispute Settlement for EU Agreements
With the European Union’s Lisbon Treaty, in force since December 2009, foreign direct investment fell under the exclusive competence of the European Union (EU). Since then the three European institutions—the European Commission, the European Council of Ministers and the European Parliament—have been engaged in a vigorous debate over a new legal framework and negotiating positions […]
After several cases assessing whether state regulation in the public interest gives rise to a claim under an investment treaty, commentators have begun asking questions about the applicable standard of review that should be applied in evaluating those claims. Now that there is emerging clarity around the interpretation of the most common substantive investment treaty […]
UNCTAD’s Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development (IPFSD) UNCTAD, June 2012 The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has established a set of principles for investment policymaking, guidelines for national investment policies, and guidance (in the form of options) for the design and negotiation of IIAs—titled the “Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development” […]
Claim against Slovakia dismissed, as tribunal complains of poorly presented case Jan Oostergetel and Theodora Laurentius v. The Slovak Republic Damon Vis-Dunbar A tribunal has dismissed a claim by a pair of Dutch investors against the Slovak Republic, finding no evidence that a “financial mafia” colluded with the Slovak government to bankrupt the claimants’ investment. […]
Vattenfall launches new claim against Germany The Swedish state-run energy firm Vattenfall has launched a second claim against Germany. The claim stems from Germany’s May 2011 decision to phase-out its nuclear power plants, in which 8 plants have been shuttered and the remaining 9 plants to be closed over the next decade. While Germany has […]
As governments increasingly turn to renewable energy to mitigate climate change, domestic climate-related policies in the form of price support measures such as feed-in tariffs (FiTs) have played an important role in stimulating the much needed investment—public and private, domestic and foreign—in the sector. Feed-in tariffs are characterized by guaranteed electricity purchase prices (set higher […]
[T]he Tribunal must balance the legitimate and reasonable expectations of the Claimants with […] [the] right to regulate the provision of a vital public service. This quote from an investment arbitration tribunal highlights the relationship between international investment law and the regulation of public services. This essay illustrates areas of contention between the requirements of […]
Deference or No Deference, That is the Question: Legitimacy and Standards of Review in Investor-State Arbitration
The appropriate standard of review to be applied in investor-state arbitration—as well as in other dispute settlement contexts, for that matter—remains a recurrent and much debated topic. The reason is straightforward: In many cases, the outcome of arbitral proceedings hinges, inter alia, on the intensity with which a tribunal scrutinizes the conduct of the investment’s […]
PDF – English (686 KB) – Français (694 KB) – Español (576 KB) In this issue: Deference or No Deference, That is the Question: Legitimacy and Standards of Review in Investor-State Arbitration; The Source for Determining Standards of Review in International Investment Law; Consent to Arbitration Through National Investment Legislation; Investment Law and Public Services: […]
Resources Fair and Equitable Treatment: UNCTAD Series on Issues in International Investment Agreements II UNCTAD, March 2012 This paper explores how the concept of Fair and Equitable Treatment (FET) has been defined in international investment agreements (IIAs) and how different formulations have been interpreted by arbitral tribunals. The substantive content of the FET standard has […]
Australia to reject investor-state dispute resolution in TPPA The Australian government will not sign on to investor-state dispute resolution provisions in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), according to an Australian government official. “We have made it clear that we will no longer be seeking investor-state dispute settlement provisions in trade agreements,” said the Australian Minister […]
US court vacates award against Argentina BG Group Plc v. Argentina Lise Johnson A US appellate court has vacated an award against Argentina in a decision that may give investors pause before attempting to bypass treaty provisions requiring that they first pursue their claims in the host state’s courts. The long course of the dispute […]
The arbitral tribunal in Chevron v. Ecuador has taken a series of steps in recent months suggesting that it has a broad view of its authority. But while it may have been unwilling to tie its own hands, other national courts and international tribunals who are currently being asked to review the legitimacy and enforceability […]
Negotiations over transparency in investor-state arbitrations have reached a critical juncture heading into an October 2012 meeting in Vienna. During the last meeting in February 2012, a large number of countries, developed and developing, strongly supported options to ensure transparency in investor-state disputes that are settled under the arbitration rules of the United Nations Commission […]
Pro-Investor or Pro-State Bias in Investment-Treaty Arbitration? Forthcoming Study Gives Cause for Concern
Debates about investment treaties often raise questions about fairness and independence in international investment arbitration. Some observers argue that investment arbitration offers a neutral and impartial forum in which to resolve investor-state disputes as a basis for protecting foreign-owned assets and ensuring the rule of law. Others claim that the arbitration mechanism favours investors and […]
In January 2012, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela denounced the ICSID Convention, becoming the third country – after Bolivia and Ecuador – to do so. The exit from the global forum for the settlement of investment disputes signals these countries’ apparent loss of faith in the system and raises questions about the Convention’s fitness for […]
In November 2011, an arbitral tribunal found the Republic of India guilty of violating the India-Australia bilateral investment treaty (BIT). It is the first known investment-treaty ruling against India, despite the fact that the country has a mammoth portfolio of BITs with more than 70 countries. News of the award broke only in February 2012.[i] […]
A dispute will only fall within the jurisdiction of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) if it directly arises out of an ‘investment’, as is provided by Article 25(1) of the Convention for the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention). However, not only does the ICSID Convention fail to provide any definition of what constitutes an ‘investment’, the drafters of the ICSID Convention, in fact, made an express decision not to include such a definition. This absence has given rise to interesting issues of interpretation as ICSID tribunals have sought to arrive at an understanding of how the term ‘investment’ should be properly understood for the purposes of the ICSID Convention.
PDF – English (521 KB) – Français (433 KB) – Español (477 KB) Flip-Page – English – Français – Español In this issue: Mission Creep: International Investment Agreements and Sovereign Debt Restructuring; UNASUR Arbitration Centre: The Present Situation and the Principal Characteristics of Ecuador’s Proposal;Investment Developments in the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement; The Netherlands: A Gateway to […]
As members of the Eurozone are now acutely aware, the lack of a sovereign debt restructuring regime is one of the most glaring gaps in the international financial architecture. That said, this summer’s decision by a tribunal of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), which grants a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) jurisdiction […]
Advocates for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) describe it as a “new generation agreement for the 21st century” that will go further behind the border than any previous free trade agreement (FTA). This signals significant changes in the investment regime found in the current generation of FTAs and bilateral investment treaties (BITs). Precisely what those […]
UNASUR Arbitration Centre: The Present Situation and the Principal Characteristics of Ecuador’s Proposal
Five years ago, some Latin American countries started a critical movement against the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), the World Bank institution for arbitrating disputes between foreign investors and host states. They perceived that ICSID arbitration proceedings had become problematic due to a lack of transparency and a failure to address the […]
Arbitrator sharply critical of majority decision in Italian bondholder claim against Argentina Abaclat and Others (Case formerly known as Giovanna a Beccara and Others) v. Argentine Republic, ICSID Case No. ARB/07/5 Damon Vis-Dunbar Professor Georges Abi-Saab has delivered a sharply worded dissent against a decision that granted jurisdiction to an ICSID case involving tens of […]
Resources Investment Treaties and Why They Matter to Sustainable Development: Questions and Answers International Institute for Sustainable Development, December 2011 This handbook provides an accessible introduction to investment treaties and their relevance to sustainable development. The handbook provides a brief history of investment treaties, before delving into a discussion of the contents of these treaties […]
Philip Morris files for arbitration over intellectual property dispute with Australia The tobacco company Philip Morris filed for arbitration on 21 November 2011, claiming the government of Australia’s regulations on cigarette branding breach the Hong Kong-Australia bilateral investment treaty. The announcement arrived on the same day that the Australian Parliament passed legislation that bans most […]