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  • Author: Jesse Coleman, Kaitlin Y. Cordes, Lise Johnson
  • Publication Date: 06-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: In its current form, the international investment treaty regime may stymie the business and human rights agenda in various ways. The regime may incentivize governments to favour the protection of investors over the protection of human rights. Investment treaty standards enforced through investor-state arbitration risk adversely affecting access to justice for project-affected rights holders. More broadly, the regime contributes to a system of global economic governance that elevates and rewards investors’ actions and expectations, irrespective of whether they have adhered to their responsibilities to respect human rights. Without comprehensive reform, investment treaties and investor-state arbitration will continue to interfere with realization of human rights and broader public interest objectives. This Chapter provides an overview of the interaction between human rights law and the investment treaty regime. It highlights the challenges that arise from tension between international human rights and investment norms, including the impact of the investment regime on the ability of host states to regulate and on access to justice for investment-affected rights holders. The chapter also explores whether and how human rights issues have been addressed by the investment regime to date, highlighting recent developments in treaty drafting practice and responses to human rights argumentation by investment tribunals. It notes the shortcomings of current approaches, and concludes by briefly setting out options for reform.
  • Topic: Government, Human Rights, Treaties and Agreements, Reform, Investment
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Lisa Sachs, Lise Johnson, Brooke Güven, Jesse Coleman
  • Publication Date: 03-2018
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: This paper analyzes the expected benefits of investment treaties, including: increased inward investment, increased outward investment, and depoliticization of investment disputes. It then considers evidence of the costs of investment treaties, including: litigation, liability, reputational cost, reduced policy space, distorted power dynamics, reduced role for domestic law-making, and uncertainty in the law. The authors set forth practical steps that states can take relating to both existing treaties as well as future treaties with an objective of increasing desired benefits and decreasing unexpected and high costs of investment treaties.
  • Topic: Treaties and Agreements, Law, Legal Theory , Investment
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Rudolf Adlung
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: A number of recent studies have discussed the implications of most-favored-nation (MFN) clauses in bilateral investment treaties (BIT s) and the possible need for, and role of, a multilateral framework for investment. Surprisingly, the relevance of existing multilateral disciplines, in particular under the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), is seldom acknowledged in this context.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Author: Gary Hufbauer, Sherry Stephenson
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: In Columbia FDI Perspectives, No. 102, Axel Berger claimed that the debate over a multilateral framework for investment is futile. We disagree. Following its achievements at the 9th Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia, the World Trade Organization (WTO) should launch negotiations to draft a 21st century Investment Framework Agreement (IFA).
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Treaties and Agreements, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Colombia
  • Author: Joachim Karl
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: In his famous book, "The End of History and the Last Man", published in 1992, Francis Fukuyama argued that Western democracy represents the end point of the socio-cultural evolution of humanity and the final form of government.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Treaties and Agreements, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: France
  • Author: Anthea Roberts
  • Publication Date: 01-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: There have been many calls for a rebalancing of investor protection and state sovereignty in the investment treaty system. However, another equally important shift is underway: the recalibration of interpretive authority between treaty parties and arbitral tribunals. In newer-style investment treaties, states are increasingly protecting and enhancing their role in interpreting and applying their treaties.
  • Topic: Economics, Government, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Treaties and Agreements, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Author: Rainer Geiger
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Launched in July 2013 by the European Union and the United States, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) represents an important effort to reach a comprehensive economic agreement between two major trading partners. As has been pointed out, the project offers great opportunities for liberalizing trade and investment and regulatory convergence. Its level of ambition implies high risks, but despite negotiators' initial optimism, its success is far from certain. This Perspective focuses on the project's investment chapter, drawing lessons from the failed negotiations on a Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), which was meant to consolidate the results of liberalization in the OECD area, establish new disciplines and introduce protection and dispute settlement.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Europe, North America
  • Author: Rainer Geiger
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Launched in July 2013 by the European Union and the United States, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) represents an important effort to reach a comprehensive economic agreement between two major trading partners. As has been pointed out, the project offers great opportunities for liberalizing trade and investment and regulatory convergence. Its level of ambition implies high risks, but despite negotiators' initial optimism, its success is far from certain.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe
  • Author: Lise Johnson
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: In July 2013, after nearly three years of work, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) adopted a set of arbitration rules that will help open some investor-state arbitrations to public view. The UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration (Transparency Rules) were crafted with input from governments, academics, arbitration practitioners, and non-governmental organizations, and approved by consensus by the member states. When applied, the Transparency Rules will require disclosure of information submitted to, and issued by, arbitral tribunals throughout proceedings, mandate open hearings and expressly allow for participation by non-parties to a dispute. The Transparency Rules also guard against disclosure of confidential information and establish a repository in which all information will be published.
  • Topic: International Law, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Barclay E. James, Paul M. Vaaler.
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Business researchers, executives and regulators may assume that state ownership in firms raises risk for private co-investors. After all, private investors are seeking profits while states are seeking welfare. Giving them both equity only confuses the aims of an investment project, complicates the job of investment project managers and raises the overall risk of investment project failure. But these assumptions do not fit the evidence as demonstrated by a well-known risk indicator observable in hundreds of investment projects located in dozens o f countries: in countries where initial investment terms are more vulnerable to renegotiation by host country governments, we found that "minority rules" apply w hereby a non-controlling, but still substantial equity investment by a host country government can play a risk-mitigating role.
  • Topic: Markets, Treaties and Agreements, Foreign Direct Investment, Governance, Reform
  • Political Geography: Ethiopia
  • Author: Gus Van Harten
  • Publication Date: 12-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Investment treaty arbitration has unfolded rapidly in recent years. Some observations arising from analyses of arbitrator awards are high lighted below. They support broad conclusions that: arbitrators reviewed a wide range of legislative, executive and judicial decisions but typically did not exercise judicial restraint in various ways associated with domestic and international courts; arbitrators typically adopted expansive approaches to their authority and to investor entitlements to compensation, especially where the claimant had the nationality of a major Western capital-exporting state; and decision-making power was highly concentrated amongarbitrators, suggesting a need for closer scrutiny of how the most active individual arbitrators have expanded the meaning of investment treaties and corresponding principles of state liability.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Treaties and Agreements, Foreign Direct Investment, Law Enforcement, Law
  • Author: Xavier Carim
  • Publication Date: 11-2013
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Proponents tend to argue that bilateral investment treaties (BITs) encourage investment and strengthen the rule of law particularly in jurisdictions where court systems are weak or biased against foreigners. This premise is contested. First, studies on BITs and FDI suggest the relationship is, at best, ambiguous and that BITs are neither necessary nor sufficient to attract FDI. Indeed, South Africa receives FDI from investors in countries with whom it has no BIT and often little or no FDI from others where a BIT was in place.
  • Topic: Security, Economics, Emerging Markets, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Africa
  • Author: Clint Peinhardt, Todd Allee
  • Publication Date: 02-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: The proliferation of investment treaties is perhaps exceeded only by academic studies of those treaties. Legal scholarship has long been attentive to the evolution in international investment agreement (IIA) content -- but until recently, quantitative assessments of IIAs have tended to treat them as interchangeable: the only measure of investor protections encoded in IIAs is whether a treaty had been signed and/or entered into force. Thankfully, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development has been at the forefront of capturing not just IIAs' proliferation but also the evolution in their content. Its work shows that treaties apply for differing durations, have conflicting procedures for termination and include varying definitions of even basic terms, such as “investors” and “investment.” Other quantitative studies have begun to measure these variations, focusing initially on differences in dispute resolution. 1 Some IIAs demand that investors choose between domestic and international dispute resolution; some provide explicit consent of both parties to international arbitration; and some designate a particular forum for arbitration, whereas others specify multiple options. Of course, IIAs vary across many dimensions, but our initial examination of dispute resolution provisions alone demonstrates the importance of examining IIA content.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Treaties and Agreements, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United Nations
  • Author: Karl P. Sauvant, Huiping Chen
  • Publication Date: 12-2012
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: China is the largest foreign direct investment (FDI) host and home country among emerging markets, the United States among developed countries. As host countries, both seek to maintain policy space to pursue their own legitimate public policy objectives; as home countries, both seek to protect their investors' outward FDI. The development of their bilateral investment treaties (BITs) over the past decade reflects this: Chinese BITs have become more protective of investors, US ones more respectful of host country interests. If agreement is reached between both, it would provide a template for future investment agreements.
  • Topic: Economics, Emerging Markets, Treaties and Agreements, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: United States, China
  • Author: Armand de Mestral
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which entered into force on December 1, 2009, extends the Common Commercial Policy (CCP) articles 206 and 207 to embrace “foreign direct investment.” This raises the question of whether the EU is now in a position to adopt a model BIT articulating a common policy on foreign direct investment (FDI). An EU policy on FDI could replace the disparate efforts of the 27 member states, complementing and reinforcing their efforts and presenting a stronger image to the world, especially at a time when the EU appears to have lost ground to other jurisdictions as a preferred destination for FDI.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: José Guimón
  • Publication Date: 03-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: One important novelty of the Lisbon Treaty, ratified by the EU in December 2009, is the inclusion of FDI within the scope of Common Commercial Policy, implying a transfer of certain FDI competences from the member states to the EU, which now has the ability to conclude international investment treaties. Until now, member states had full competence over FDI, and the role of EU institutions was very limited. It remains to be seen how the new Treaty will be interpreted and implemented in light of the difficult legal and political questions that this development raises.
  • Topic: Economics, Treaties and Agreements, Foreign Direct Investment
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Alexandre de Gramont
  • Publication Date: 09-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: In his recent article, “Thinking twice about a gold rush: Pacific Rim v. El Salvador” (Columbia FDI Perspectives, No. 23, May 24, 2010), Professor Gus Van Harten uses the PacRim v. El Salvador arbitration, pending at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), as the basis for asserting a number of criticisms against the overall system of arbitration under investment treaties.
  • Topic: Economics, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Lauge Skovgaard Poulsen
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Policy Brief
  • Institution: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Abstract: Many of the risks covered by bilateral investment treaties (BITs) are also covered by political risk insurance (PRI). Although there are important differences between PRI and BITs, both in terms of coverage and underlying purpose, the considerable overlap between the two instruments suggest that PRI providers should take BITs into account when assessing the risk of investment projects. But while the relationship between BITs and PRI has often been alleged to be considerable, in practice there is practically no publicly available evidence to sustain this assumption. This Perspective reviews evidence from a recent survey of officials in private and public (or mixed private/public) PRI providers.
  • Topic: Economics, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Treaties and Agreements, Bilateral Relations