Should the system of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) be reformed?

Should the system of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) be reformed? That is the question being considered by the United Nations Commission on Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

ISDS provisions are contained in about 3,000 investment treaties and investment chapters of free trade agreements. The provisions permit a foreign investor in the form of a company or individual to bring a claim directly against a State where the investor believes that its investment is being threatened by an action of the State.Foreign-Direct-Investment

FDI and ISDS

FDI can be a valuable tool to exploit resources and build production facilities while creating jobs and infrastructure, particularly in developing countries. Investment agreements aim to create an enabling environment for foreign investors. Among other things, the provisions protect them against expropriation without adequate compensation and guarantee their ability to freely move assets in and out of the country. Sovereign States, on the other hand, need to govern with a multiplicity of interests in mind and their actions can, inadvertently or deliberately, deprive the foreign investor of an intended benefit. ISDS procedures provide the mechanism by which such disputes are resolved.

The most common procedures are drawn from the world of commercial arbitration, used to determine disputes between two commercial parties. They involve the use of an arbitral tribunal which gives equal standing to the investor and the State and whose decisions are binding.

The majority of developing countries rely on foreign direct investment to foster economic growth and development. The overwhelming majority of defendants in arbitral proceedings are the governments of developing and emerging economies. The outcome of ISDS arbitral tribunals can and do impact the ability of governments to develop and implement policy.

Concerns Regarding ISDS

A note by the UNCITRAL Secretariat – “Possible reform of investor-State dispute settlement” and the Report of its Working Group on ISDS summarize expressed concerns regarding ISDS. They include:

  • Inconsistency of arbitral decisions – instances where the host State is sued by different investors on the same issue but with different outcomes from different tribunals;
  • Lengthy duration and extensive cost of ISDS – States that have been sued may not have the resources to adequately defend its policies and actions or to pay arbitral awards;
  • Lack of transparency – States are using public funds and tribunal decisions may be sealed;
  • Lack of an early dismissal mechanism to address unfounded claims;
  • Lack of a mechanism to address counterclaims by respondent States;
  • Heavy reliance on arbitrators from the investor States and who may not understand policy.

Questions at the heart of these concerns address the overall legitimacy of the process. Should a system created to address disputes between two commercial parties be used to resolve policy issues that may impact millions of people? Is it acceptable to exclude domestic investors from the same recourse available to foreign investors?

Proponents of ISDS acknowledge the validity of some of these concerns and say they can be addressed by reforming the current system of ISDS. They also point to the underlying concerns that led to the use of ISDS in the first place – politicization from the use of diplomacy to address dispute and the slow judicial processes in some countries’ domestic legal system.

Concerns are not limited to those expressed by emerging economies. The EU’s submission to the UNCITRAL Working Group highlights systemic issues it believes warrants establishment of a multilateral investment court that would replace the use of arbitral tribunals. A March 2018 ruling of the European Court of Justice concluded that the ISDS clauses in an intra-EU investment treaty were incompatible with EU law.

The Trump Administration has also inserted its perspective on ISDS in the context of the NAFTA re-negotiations. The U.S. Government has consistently expressed its displeasure at being required to abide by the decisions of international panel decisions it finds not to its liking. In August 2017, the Trump Administration floated the idea of opting out of NAFTA ISDS provisions (Chapter 11). Should the US remove itself from the NAFTA ISDS provisions this would be a major departure in US policy and a disappointment for US corporations but a shot in the arm for opponents of ISDS.

Investment Facilitation

UNCITRAL will continue its deliberations. A growing consensus appears to be that while ISDS serves a role the system needs to be reformed. Meanwhile, in December 2017, 70 WTO members agreed to begin discussions to develop the framework for a Multilateral Investment Facilitation Agreement. Discussions will not address ISDS reform, but the purpose will be to minimize the likelihood of disputes by creating a more transparent, efficient, and predictable environment for facilitating cross-border investment.

To the extent that disputes arise because of tension between development-oriented policies of host States and investor goals, conflicts can best be minimized by incorporating a true development dimension into whatever frameworks are used to manage the FDI inflows into developing countries.

(Cross-posted from DevelopTradeLaw blog.)

Write On! COLLOQUIUM: International Investment Law & the Law of Armed Conflict

Call for Papers

The Athens Public International Law Center (AthensPIL) of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Faculty of Law is hosting, in the context of the Investment Law Initiative, a Colloquium on ‘International Investment Law & the Law of Armed Conflict’, which will take place on October 5 & 6, 2017, in Athens, Greece. Details on the submission procedure and key dates can be found at the end of this call.

The Colloquium on ‘International Investment Law & the Law of Armed Conflict’ is jointly organized by the AthensPIL of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Faculty of Law (Greece); the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS); the Research Centre on Procurement Law and International Investment (CREDIMI) of the University of Burgundy (France) and the University of Zaragoza (Spain). These academic and research institutions joined forces in 2016 and established the Investment Law Initiative, an international collaboration aimed at strengthening research and systemic analysis of international investment law. The Colloquium is coordinated by Dr Katia Fach Gómez (University of Zaragoza, Faculty of Law)[1], Dr Anastasios Gourgourinis (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Faculty of Law; Athens PIL), and Dr Catharine Titi (CNRS and CREDIMI, University of Burgundy).

 

Continue reading

Nuevo libro para abogados hispano- y angloparlantes/New Book for Lawyers Who Speak Both Spanish and English

(English version follows)

Tres mujeres y profesoras de derecho: S.I. Strong de la Universidad de Missouri (Estados Unidos), Katia Fach Gómez de la Universidad de Zaragoza (España) y Laura Carballo Piñeiro de la Universidad de Santiago de Compostela (España) tenemos el honor de presentar el libro Derecho comparado para abogados anglo- e hispanoparlantes: Culturas jurídicas, términos jurídicos y prácticas jurídicas/ Comparative Law for Spanish-English Speaking Lawyers: Legal Cultures, Legal Terms and Legal Practices  (Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., 2016). Este trabajo supone una plasmación por escrito de algunas de las características más relevantes de nuestras carreras profesionales: trayectorias académicas y de práctica de la abogacía internacional desarrolladas en español e inglés, y en estrecho contacto con las comunidades jurídicas latinoamericana, europea y estadounidense. En consonancia con ello, la obra que hemos elaborado permite que abogados y estudiantes de derecho que hablan inglés y español adquieran fluidez jurídica en un segundo idioma. Realizar dicho esfuerzo es extremadamente importante no sólo para abogados especializados en derecho internacional, sino también para abogados dedicados al derecho nacional pero que tratan con clientes cuya lengua materna es un idioma extranjero.

La forma en que “Derecho comparado para abogados anglo- e hispanoparlantes” involucra a abogados y estudiantes de derecho en la práctica jurídica bilingüe es única por diversos motivos. En primer lugar, y dado que la mayoría de los abogados bilingües trabajan con otros abogados y con clientes que cuentan con unos orígenes legales y culturales muy variados, el libro no se limita a analizar unas jurisdicciones concretas. Por el contrario, el libro ofrece información sobre diversos países hispanoparlantes (fundamentalmente, España y México) y angloparlantes (fundamentalmente, Estados Unidos y Reino Unido). En segundo lugar, la monografía contextualiza la información, no sólo ubicando el nuevo vocabulario y los principios legales en el contexto lingüístico apropiado –el libro es completamente bilingüe-, sino también ofreciendo abundantes comparaciones con la legislación y la práctica de otras jurisdicciones. En tercer lugar, este tipo de análisis permite que los abogados y estudiantes de derecho aprecien las diferencias existentes en las culturas jurídicas, empresariales y sociales relevantes. Ello ayuda a los lectores a no incurrir en ofensas que puedan derivarse de problemas de comunicación involuntarios. El libro también explica por qué existen dichas diferencias y cuál es su fundamento en un contexto jurídico determinado.

Profundizar en la comprensión a través de barreras nacionales, sociales y culturales es un objetivo esencial de un mundo cada vez más pluralizado. Derecho comparado para abogados anglo- e hispanoparlantes es una herramienta muy útil para aquellos que trabajan cruzando fronteras lingüísticas. Como este libro de 700 páginas demuestra, no hay que temer a las diferencias, sino que hemos de alegrarnos de que la diversidad jurídica y lingüística exista.

***

unnamedThree law professors – S.I. Strong of the University of Missouri, Katia Fach Gómez of the University of Zaragoza and Laura Carballo Piñeiro of the University of Santiago de Compostela – have the honor of presenting their new book, Comparative Law for Spanish-English Speaking Lawyers: Legal Cultures, Legal Terms and Legal Practices / Derecho comparado para abogados anglo- e hispanoparlantes: Culturas jurídicas, términos jurídicos y prácticas jurídicas (Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., 2016).  This work reflects some of the characteristics that are most relevant to our professional careers as academics and practitioners working in both English and Spanish, and involving jurisdictions in Latin America, Europe and the United States.  Consistent with that, the book that we have written helps lawyers and law students who speak Spanish and English become legally fluent in their second language.  This effort is extremely important not only for specialists in international law, but also for domestic lawyers whose clients speak different languages.

 

Comparative Law for Spanish-English Speaking Lawyers: Legal Cultures, Legal Terms and Legal Practices / Derecho comparado para abogados anglo- e hispanoparlantes” introduces lawyers and law students to bilingual legal practice in several ways.  First, the book does not focus solely on single jurisdictions, since most bilingual lawyers work with clients and co-counsel from a variety of legal and cultural backgrounds.  Instead, the book offers information on several English-speaking nations (primarily the U.S. and the U.K.) and Spanish-speaking countries (primarily Spain, Mexico and Argentina).  Second, the text seeks to contextualize the information, not only by placing the new vocabulary and legal principles in the appropriate linguistic setting (the book is entirely bilingual) but by providing extensive comparisons to the law and practice of other jurisdictions.  Third, the discussion helps lawyers and law students appreciate differences in the relevant legal, business and social cultures, thereby helping them avoid giving offense through any inadvertent miscommunications, and explains why those differences arose and why they make sense in that particular legal environment.

 

Increasing understanding across national, social and cultural lines is an important goal in our increasingly pluralistic world, and Comparative Law for Spanish-English Speaking Lawyers provides a useful tool for those who work across linguistic lines.  As this 700+ page text shows, legal and linguistic differences need not be feared but can instead be celebrated.

 

Read On! International Law and…

August Reinisch, Mary E. Footer & Christina Binder have just edited Select Proceedings of the European Society of International Law, Vol. 5 (2014) (Hart 2016), available here

Table of Contents:


/Scripts/selectivizr-min.js

PART I: INTERNATIONAL LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS ADJUDICATION
1. Judicial Engagement in International Human Rights Comparativism Anja Seibert-Fohr
2. Jurisprudential Dialogue in Supranational Human Rights Litigation in Africa Magnus Killander
3. Human Rights Adjudication as Transnational Adjudication: A Peripheral Case of Domestic Courts as International Law Adjudicators Samantha Besson
4. A New Doctrine on the Block? The European Court of Human Rights and the Responsible Courts Doctrine Basak Çali
PART II: INTERNATIONAL LAW AND NATIONAL LAW
5. International Law through the National Prism: The Role of Domestic Law and Jurisprudence in Shaping International Investment Law Hege Elisabeth Kjos
6. National Case Law as a Generator of International Refugee Law: Rectifying an Imbalance within the UNHCR Guidelines on International Protection Cecilia M Bailliet
7. National Law as an Unpredictable Generator of International Law: The Case of Norm Export at the World Trade Organization Gregory Messenger
8. International Investment Agreements and Good Governance: Norm and Institutional Design, Internalisation and Domestic Rule-making Mavluda Sattorova
PART III: INTERNATIONAL LAW AND TRADE AND INVESTMENT
9. Investment Law at the Crossroads of Public and Private International Law Andrea K Bjorklund, Georgios Petrochilos, Stephan W Schill and Diane A Desierto
10. The Forced Co-Existence of Trade and Investment Provisions in Preferential Trade and Investment Agreements and the Regulatory Architecture of the Systems of Trade and Investment Law Catharine Titi
11. The Shared Responsibility of the EU for Member States’ Financial Crisis Measures as a Defence in International Investment Claims Anastasios G Gourgourinis
PART IV: INTERNATIONAL LAW AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
12. Subsequent Treaty Practice: The Work of the International Law Commission Georg Nolte
13. A Gap, a Map, and an Intellectual Trap: Changing Conceptions of Regime Interaction and of Interdisciplinarity Jeffrey L Dunoff
PART V: INTERNATIONAL LAW AND NEW TECHNOLOGIES
14. The Challenges Posed by Cyber-Attacks to the Law on Self-Defence Irène Couzigou
15. ‘Culturomics’ and International Law Research Jamie Trinidad
PART VI: INTERNATIONAL LAW AND THE SOCIAL AND HUMAN SCIENCES
16. Opium as an Object of International Law: Doctrines of Sovereignty and Intervention Jessie Hohmann
17. International Law in Transit: The Concept of ‘Indigenous Peoples’ and its Transitions in International, National and Local Realms-the Example of the Bedouin in the Negev Emma Nyhan
18. Fragmented Feminisms: Critical Feminist Thinking in the Post-millennium Era Gina Heathcote
PART VII: INTERNATIONAL LAW AND SPORT
19. ‘For the Game, For the World’-And also for Human Rights? Analysing Human Rights Obligations of International Sports Associations Lars Schönwald
20. Emerging Fair Trial Guarantees Jernej Letnar Cernic
21. International Sports Law and the Fight against Doping: An Analysis from an International Human Rights Perspective Carmen Pérez González
PART VIII: INTERNATIONAL LAW AND THE ARTS AND HUMANITIES
22. Engaging International Law and Literature with Kafka, Deleuze and Guattari Ekaterina Yahyaoui Krivenko
23. An Introduction to the Idea of International Law and the International Community in Contemporary Catholic Theology 5Aleš Weingerl
24. The Ideological Structure of the Early Jus Gentium and its Implications for the Current Debate about Normative Hierarchy and Public Policy in the International Community Dimitrios A Kourtis
25. The Inextricable Connection between Historical Consciousness and International Law: New Imperialism, the International Court of Justice and its Interpretation of the Inter-temporal Rule Mieke van Der Linden
PART IX: INTERNATIONAL LAW AND THE AESTHETIC
26. Engaged Visual Art as a Tool for Normative Renewal in International Human Rights: The Case of Ariella Azoulay’s Potential History (2012) Eva Brems and Hilde van Gelder
27. Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage: An Inter-disciplinary Approach to International Law Janet Blake
28. Zero Dark Thirty: International Law, Torture and Representation Daniel Joyce and Gabrielle Simm
29. À la Maison-Blanche: le président des États-Unis se soucie-t-il du droit international lorsqu’il décide d’une intervention militaire? Olivier Corten
EPILOGUE
30. ‘International Law and ….’ Variations on a Theme Vera Gowlland-Debbas –

Accountability Counsel Internships

One of the premier human rights law firms in the country – Accountability Counsel – is looking for students and recent graduates interested in international law, human rights, accountability, dispute resolution, complex negotiations, environmental justice, corporate accountability, women’s rights, and/or international development.

Accountability Council:

assists communities around the world to defend their environmental and human rights. …

and seeks to

hold corporate and institutional violators accountable through our dual approaches: direct support to communities and policy advocacy.

The organization in particular works on behalf of people and communities harmed by internationally-financed projects through community driven and policy level strategies to access justice.

The following opportunities are now open for our Fall 2016 unpaid Fellow and Intern Programs:

  • Law Fellow – San Francisco – 2L and 3L law students or recent law school graduates (within one year of graduation).
  • South Asia Law Fellow – Washington, D.C – 2L and 3L law students or recent law school graduates (within one year of graduation).
  • Policy Fellow – Washington, D.C. – law students, graduate students currently studying policy and/or another related field, or recent graduates (within one year of graduation).
  • Data Analyst Fellow – San Francisco – graduate students and recent graduates (within one year of graduation) in a related field of data or statistics.
  • Communications & Operations Intern – San Francisco – undergraduate students or recent graduates (within one year of graduation).
  • Data Intern – San Francisco – undergraduate students or recent graduates (within one year of graduation).

Any interested students/recent graduates should consult the website for more information.  To apply, students must complete an online application form.

On the Job! Postdoctoral Fellowships on the legitimacy of International Courts and Tribunals

Job Description

Up to five 3 year postdoctoral fellowships are available at PluriCourts, a Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order, a multidisciplinary Centre of Excellence at the Faculty of Law, Department of Public and International Law of University of Oslo.

The postdoctoral researchers will study international courts and tribunals (ICs) in one or more of five issue areas: human rights, trade, investment, international criminal courts and the environment. There is a slight preference for research on human rights and trade.  The research should apply methodology from the fields of political science, philosophy and/or law, with a slight preference for applicants in political science or political philosophy.

The candidate may be assigned a 10 % workload of tasks including teaching, supervision or other relevant tasks.

About PluriCourts

PluriCourts is a Centre of Excellence funded by the Research Council of Norway. The Centre is based at the Faculty of Law, Department of Public and International Law of the University of Oslo. Co-Directors of the Centre are Andreas Føllesdal (professor in political philosophy) and Geir Ulfstein (professor in international law).

The primary research objective of PluriCourts is to analyze and assess the legitimate present and future roles of ICs in the five sectors listed above. For important detailed information about the research agenda and PluriCourts, visit PluriCourts’ research plan.

More information is available here

PluriCourts Fellowships for 3-12 months in 2015-2016

Temporary positions as visiting scholars at postdoctoral level are available at PluriCourts – Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order, a Centre of Excellence at the Faculty of Law, University of Oslo for 2015 and 2016. The duration of the contracts is from 3 12 months. The candidates must hold a doctoral degree in law, political science or philosophy. The visiting scholars shall focus on international courts and tribunals in one of PluriCourtsthematic research areas, Human Rights, Trade, Criminal Law, Investment, and Environment. Applicants must submit the following documents: A short project proposal (maximum 3 pages) which shows how the project will contribute to PluriCourts’ research plan and a time schedule for the planned work. CV including relevant published and unpublished academic works; names and contact details for reference persons. A letter of application with earliest possible starting date and duration of the fellowship (3-12 months). It is a requirement that the applicant will be able to complete the project in the course of the period of appointment. The researchers will also be involved in other projects at PluriCourts and are expected to participate in the academic and social activities at the research Centre. Salary: pay grade 60 ( NOK 509.100 per year) Contact: Director, Prof. Andreas Føllesdal or Adm. Manager, Aina Nessøe Deadline for application: 18. December 2014

Applications should be sent to pluricourts@jus.uio.no