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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.

  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 10, Issue 4, October 2019

    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 10, Issue 4, October 2019

    Investment Treaty News (ITN) is IISD’s flagship journal on international investment law and policy. This special edition of ITN is devoted to international investment governance.

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  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 10, Issue 3, September 2019

    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 10, Issue 3, September 2019

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

    Read More
  • Briefing Note
    Redesigning the Energy Charter Treaty to Advance the Low-Carbon Transition

    Redesigning the Energy Charter Treaty to Advance the Low-Carbon Transition

    This paper discusses practical ways to overhaul the Energy Charter Treaty to bring it in line with international law commitments with respect to climate change and sustainable development.

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  • Commentary
    Investment Facilitation for Sustainable Development: Getting it right for developing countries

    Investment Facilitation for Sustainable Development: Getting it right for developing countries

    This piece explores how investment facilitation belongs not in binding World Trade Organization rules, but in the work of organizations that focus on research, best practice and capacity building for developing countries.

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  • Best Practices
    IISD Best Practices Series: Compensation Under Investment Treaties (Advance Draft)

    IISD Best Practices Series: Compensation Under Investment Treaties (Advance Draft)

    This advance draft of the latest IISD Best Practices Series paper focuses specifically on the awards seen in various investment treaty arbitration cases, how they are determined and what can be learned going forward. Please note that this paper will be updated following comments.

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  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 10, Issue 2, June 2019

    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 10, Issue 2, June 2019

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

    Read More
  • Report
    Canadian Initiatives Against Bribery by Foreign Investors

    Canadian Initiatives Against Bribery by Foreign Investors

    Building on the recognition that corruption threatens sustainable development, the report analyzes Canadian legal initiatives under both domestic and international law against bribery by Canadian businesses investing abroad.

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  • Commentary
    World Bank–IMF Development Committee Stresses Institutional Accountability at Spring Meetings, Amid Planned IFC Reforms

    World Bank–IMF Development Committee Stresses Institutional Accountability at Spring Meetings, Amid Planned IFC Reforms

    Communities may be able to sue international financial institutions when their livelihoods and well-being have been harmed by development.

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  • Blog
    How Could China’s New Foreign Investment Law Impact Trade Debate?

    How Could China’s New Foreign Investment Law Impact Trade Debate?

    Negotiators from the United States and China have met repeatedly in recent weeks to reach an agreement to resolve some of the trade irritants between them, including the high-profile issue of forced technology transfers.

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  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 10, Issue 1, April 2019

    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 10, Issue 1, April 2019

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

    Read More