A few weeks ago I attended a conference at the Freie Universität –
International Investment Agreements – Balancing Sustainable Development and Investment Protection. The conference brought together an array of lawyers, arbitrators and law professors, as well as government, NGO and IO employees. Central to the conference was a discussion of UNCTAD’s recently launched Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development (IPFSD).
IIAs have been receiving a fair amount of media attention lately (at least in Canada). In case you haven’t caught any of this, or aren’t forced to hear me talk about it in a colloquium session, a brief refresher: Investment agreements (IIAs) are generally bilateral investment treaties (BITs) or embedded in FTAs, and commit countries to maintaining stringent investor protection standards. Controversially, they allow investors from one of the states party to the treaty to initiate arbitration proceedings against the government of the other. Arbitrators are then charged with deciding on the legality of domestic measures affecting an investor, which may range from fairly clear cut cases of corruption to honest attempts to regulate in the public interest.
While it’s still a bit of a niche topic, the discussion at the conference touched on a number of issues that are likely of interest to a wider audience of IR and development scholars and practitioners.
Continue reading International Investment Treaties and IR