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Investment Law and Policy Reform

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Investment treaties and the way disputes are settled under them­­—a process known as investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS)—are facing increasing scrutiny. A call for reform has therefore emerged.

To achieve global aims such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), international investment law and policy need to be reformed and redirected toward boosting environmentally sound investment that generates broad socioeconomic benefits for citizens of home and host states. To this end, IISD works with national governments, regional and international organizations, academics and civil society to reshape investment law and policy frameworks collaboratively and innovatively.

IISD hosts a series of interactive expert meetings, bringing together key audiences to work toward solutions, fostering creative thinking and developing elements of a progressive agenda on reform. These include obligations on investors and mechanisms to enhance access to justice for individuals and communities affected by foreign investment projects.

We also actively participate in the multilateral inter-governmental process at the United Nations Conference on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) to discuss possible ISDS reform. IISD aims to promote the much-needed development of a comprehensive and inclusive dispute settlement mechanism, providing alternatives to arbitration and enabling the participation of all stakeholders.  

Explore our investment law and policy reform work further below.

Active Projects

Investment Law and Policy Reform: A Series of Expert Meetings

Investment treaties and investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) have come under increasing scrutiny over the past decade. A call for reform has emerged. IISD is working towards progressive solutions. Through a series of interactive expert meetings, IISD has fostered innovative thinking and developed elements of a progressive agenda on investment.

UNCITRAL and Reform of Investment Dispute Settlement

In 2015–2016 the Secretariat of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) conducted a study on whether the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor–State Arbitration (Mauritius Convention) could provide a useful model for possible reforms in the field of investor–state arbitration.

Webinars on Investment Law and Policy

This webinar series aims to provide information on developments in international investment law and policy, equipping developing country governments and regional organizations to negotiate better treaties and contracts and prepare for and manage investment disputes.

  • Commentary
    Reply to Public Consultation on Canada's International Investment Agreements (FIPAs)

    Reply to Public Consultation on Canada's International Investment Agreements (FIPAs)

    The Canadian government launched a public consultation on Canada’s foreign investment promotion and protection agreements (FIPAs) on August 14, 2018. This commentary outlines IISD's reply.

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  • Blog
    Trade Wars Turning Into Investment Wars: Will sustainable development suffer?

    Trade Wars Turning Into Investment Wars: Will sustainable development suffer?

    While the U.S.–China trade war rages on and captures headlines, a U.S.–China investment war is emerging. Will sustainable development be the ultimate loser?

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  • Blog
    Burkina Faso Adopts a New Agricultural Investment Code: How does it contribute to sustainable development?

    Burkina Faso Adopts a New Agricultural Investment Code: How does it contribute to sustainable development?

    The strengths and growth potential of Burkina Faso's new Agricultural Investment Code.

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  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 9, Issue 3, October 2018

    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 9, Issue 3, October 2018

    Investment Treaty News (ITN) is IISD’s flagship journal on international investment law and policy.

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  • Book
    International Investment Law and Sustainable Development: Key cases from the 2010s

    International Investment Law and Sustainable Development: Key cases from the 2010s

    This e-book features 10 summaries and analyses of decisions rendered between 2011 and 2018 by arbitral tribunals in treaty-based investor–state arbitration cases having sustainable development implications.

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  • Briefing Note
    Developing and Negotiating Based on a Model Investment Treaty

    Developing and Negotiating Based on a Model Investment Treaty

    This background paper provides insights into the third session of IISD's Webinar Series on Investment Law and Policy, focused on developing and negotiating based on a model investment treaty.

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  • Blog
    USMCA Versus NAFTA on the Environment

    USMCA Versus NAFTA on the Environment

    https://www.iisd.org/story/after-nafta/#text-82776The old NAFTA set the bar in linking trade and environment.  How does its successor compare?

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  • Blog
    USMCA Curbs How Much Investors Can Sue Countries—Sort of

    USMCA Curbs How Much Investors Can Sue Countries—Sort of

    The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) put the famous investor–state dispute settlement mechanism on the map. Now its rebirth as the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) is taking it off again—at least between the United States and Canada.

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