International Investment Agreements, Business and Human Rights: Key Issues and Opportunities

March 14, 2008
The paper was prepared for Prof. John Ruggie, UN Special Representative to the Secretary General for Business and Human Rights. It explores the full range of issues that arise between international investment agreements, business and human rights, focusing on the key duties of states to protect and promote human rights, and the responsibilities of business to respect human rights.

Do investment agreements help or hurt the pursuit of these roles?
The paper also takes a first look at the relationship of Host Government Agreements to international investment treaties in the human rights context. The paper concludes the existing investment treaty regime does nothing to either enhance the relationship between business and human rights, or to ensure investors fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights. Moreover, it can negatively impact the duty of host states to protect and promote human rights. However, the paper notes this need not be the case, and suggests specific approaches to enhancing this relationship, and to embed human rights values into the international investment law regime.

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IISD, 2008