On July 27, 2021, the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights published its 2021 Report on Human Rights-Compatible IIAs.
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 sixth negotiation round for the binding treaty on business and human rights recently concluded. This article draws parallels between the issues raised during these negotiations and those that have been the focus of the ongoing conversations on investment arbitration reform.
There are several efforts underway at multiple levels—national, bilateral, regional and multilateral—aimed at reforming the IIA regime. These reform efforts are operating in parallel to developments in other areas of international investment governance, some of which have advanced quickly over the past year, including the structured discussions on investment facilitation at the WTO, as well as efforts in the UN context to craft a binding treaty on business and human rights. This year’s UNCTAD High-Level IIA Conference assessed the progress made to date since launching UNCTAD’s 10 Options for Phase 2 of IIA Reform, looking at trends across multiple areas of international investment governance, as well as across world regions. This ITN Insight summarizes the key takeaways from the 2019 event and considerations for Phase 2 going forward.
The 2016 decision on Argentina’s counterclaim in the Urbaser case provided a frustrating reminder that the international legal regime as it stands is insufficient in holding businesses accountable for human rights violations. Efforts are underway within the UN context to help address this challenge, though how effective the legally binding treaty on business and human rights will be in reconciling the human rights and investment law regimes will depend significantly on its design. It will also depend on how adjudicators treat it relative to other treaties, among other factors. This ITN Insight provides an update on the negotiating state of play for this binding treaty, based on the October 2019 talks in Geneva. It highlights important considerations for negotiators, drawing from lessons learned in international investment law and related areas.
From November 25 to 27, 2019, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights hosted this year’s United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Revised Draft of a Treaty on Business and Human Rights: Ground-breaking improvements and brighter prospects
This past July, the chairperson of a working group tasked with negotiating an international treaty on business and human rights circulated an updated draft text for consideration in the fifth round of negotiations, to be held October 14–18, 2019 in Geneva. This document features a series of innovations, including extending the scope of the treaty beyond transnational organizations to include all business enterprises, along with bringing much needed clarity on how this treaty might interact with the wide range of trade and investment agreements already in place. Carlos Lopez describes these innovations in detail, showing their changes relative to the “zero draft” and outlining how they may affect upcoming negotiations.
ICSID tribunal upholds Panama’s plea of illegality in the making of an investment in a tourism project located in an Indigenous area
ÁLVAREZ Y MARÍN CORPORACIÓN S.A., BARTUS VAN NOORDENNE, CORNELIS WILLEM VAN NOORDENNE, ESTUDIOS TRIBUTARIOS AP S.A. AND STICHTING ADMINISTRATIEKANTOOR ANBADI V. REPUBLIC OF PANAMA, ICSID CASE NO. ARB/15/14
Protecting Social Rights Using the Amicus Curiae Procedure in Investment Arbitration: A smokescreen against third parties?
Arguments submitted by an amicus curiae (a “friend of the court”) have become increasingly common in investment arbitration. Many of these arguments deal with internationally recognized social rights, such as the right to water or food. This piece considers the restrictive conditions on amici curiae admission, the frequent reference to social rights issues in amici briefs, and the challenges in presenting these social rights arguments. The author advances possible actions that amici and states can take to make their social rights arguments more effective in an investment law context.
CSR refers to rules and practices companies follow voluntarily to limit the negative social, environmental and other externalities caused by their activities. There is a trend to incorporate CSR standards in investment treaties. Could CSR clauses be useful in consolidating enforceable investor obligations and serving as a basis for state counterclaims?
Negotiations of a legally binding instrument on business and human rights continue at the United Nations
During the week of October 15–19, 2018, the fourth session of the Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights took place in Geneva.
Bear Creek Mining Corporation v. Republic of Peru, ICSID Case No. ARB/14/2 (Published in 2018 in International Investment Law and Sustainable Development: Key cases from the 2010s and on this website on October 15, 2018. Read more here.) Decisions and award are available at https://www.italaw.com/cases/2848 Keywords Silver mining, general exception clause, social licence to operate, human rights […]
Urbaser S.A. and Consorcio de Aguas Bilbao Bizkaia, Bilbao Biskaia Ur Partzuergoa v. The Argentine Republic, ICSID Case No. ARB/07/26 (Published in 2018 in International Investment Law and Sustainable Development: Key cases from the 2010s and on this website on October 18, 2018. Read more here.) Decisions and award are available at http://www.italaw.com/cases/1144 Keywords Human rights, […]
In July 2018, Ecuador’s Ambassador released the zero draft of one of the most important international human rights treaties in recent years. How does this draft measure up to the high expectations and needs expressed by the international community and especially those in need of justice and reparation?
The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Respect to Human Rights will take place October 15–19, 2018 in Room XX of the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
Meaningful and effective remedies need to be provided to those injured by business-related human rights abuses. An intergovernmental working group at the United Nations is working to bridge gaps among stakeholders and negotiate a binding instrument on transnational corporations and other businesses with respect to human rights.
Large-Scale Land Investments in Least Developed Countries: Legal conflicts between investment and human rights protection
This book analyzes large-scale land investments for agricultural purposes in Africa’s least-developed countries from a law and economics perspective.
International Investment Law and Policy in Africa: Exploring a human rights based approach to investment regulation and dispute settlement
This book provides a comprehensive analysis of the international investment law regime and current treaty practices in Africa from global, regional and domestic perspectives.
This book examines the interrelations between human rights and international investment law and discusses whether and how human rights arguments may be presented in the course of arbitral proceedings based on investment treaties.
Can Foreign Investors Be Held Liable for Human Rights Violations? International Human Rights Law and Beyond
Host states have had the challenge to protect their citizens from human rights violations caused by multinationals. This paper explains the bases of states’ obligations under international human rights law and how foreign investors may be held responsible.
Recasting Rules and Exceptions? On the Relationship Between Regulatory Sovereignty and International Investment Law
States’ regulatory powers are the rule, and investors’ rights under international investment law are the exception. Or is it the other way around? Book review of Public Purpose in International Law.
The book examines the links between investment law and other sub-fields of international law, including the law on armed conflict, human rights, sustainable development, trade, development and EU law.
The inaugural session of the Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group for the Elaboration of an International Legally Binding Instrument on Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises (TNCOBEs) with respect to Human Rights (the Working Group) marks the beginning of a process to negotiate a binding treaty on business and human rights.
From July 6 to 10, 2015, a UN working group convened its first meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss a legal instrument on human rights and transnational corporations.