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Investment Treaties and Why They Matter to Sustainable Development: Questions and answers

This handbook focuses on international treaties that guarantee standards of treatment for foreign investors.

Today, there are literally thousands of investment treaties between governments, and many more are signed every year. Historically, developed countries pushed the agreements in order to provide an extra measure of legal protection to their domestic investors who sought to invest in riskier foreign territories abroad. Developing countries, a number of which were long resistant to certain principles and concepts embodied in the agreements, then incorporated them into their strategies for attracting foreign investment and capital into their territories. Developments over the past two decades have shown these to be powerful instruments, which play a big part in defining the relationship between host states and foreign investors. However, in their current form, they do little to promote sustainable development.