Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs)

Investment Policy Brief 15, March 2019

UNCITRAL Working Group III: Can Reforming Procedures Rebalance Investor Rights and Obligations?

The work of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) provides an opportunity to rebalance the international investment regime – but only if the full gamut of key issues are identified. Requiring investors to uphold standards of responsible business conduct (RBC) is largely a function of substantive rights and obligations, but it also presents procedural dimensions that fall within the purview of the UNCITRAL process. This policy brief explores the issues and discusses possible options for reform.

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Investment Policy Brief 14, March 2019

Building a Mirage: The Effectiveness of Tax Carve-out Provisions in International Investment Agreements

The present policy brief analyses the language of taxation carve-out provisions incorporated in International Investment Agreements (IIAs), and its effectiveness with regards to restricting the protection and dispute settlement provisions of IIAs only to non-tax-related claims. It illustrates that even in cases where such carve-out provisions have been incorporated into IIAs, the broad language and lack of clarity in the drafting of such provisions have effectively allowed Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals to scrutinize tax measures adopted by States, and even determine that such measures resulted in a breach of State’s obligations under the agreement. It makes recommendations on how States could effectively implement such carve-outs when negotiating, reforming or drafting new international investment agreements.

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Investment Policy Brief 13, December 2018

IP Licence, Trademarks and ISDS: Bridgestone v. Panama

Can an intellectual property right or a license authorizing its use be deemed an ‘investment’ under bilateral investment treaties? This policy brief discusses the arguments submitted by the parties in the Bridgestone Licensing Services, Inc. and  Bridgestone Americas, Inc. v. Republic of Panama case on questions regarding a trademark license agreement. Bridgestone Licensing Services, Inc. (BSLS) and Bridgestone Americas, Inc. (BSAM) together initiated arbitration proceedings on the grounds that Panama’s Supreme Court decision was unjust and arbitrary, violated Panama’s obligations under the United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA),  expropriated their investments, and violated the requirement of fair and equitable treatment (FET) to BSLS’s and BSAM’s investments.

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Investment Policy Brief 12, December 2018

Investor-State Dispute Settlement: An Anachronism Whose Time Has Gone

Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) – a mechanism that allows foreign investors to bring claims against host governments to an international arbitral tribunal – is a relic that should be abolished. Its alleged benefits have not materialized and its costs – monetary and other – can represent a formidable obstacle to good economic governance. We recommend policymakers to terminate ISDS provisions in existing agreements and eschew them in future trade and investment treaties.

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SC WIF 2018 Side Event, October 2018

Title:                             Reforms and Alternatives for the Future of the International Investment Treaty Regime; Views for the Way Forward

Date and Time:           Tuesday, 23 October 2018, 12:30-14:30

Venue:                         Room XXII of the Palais des Nations

Organizer:                   The South Centre

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Investment Policy Brief 11, May 2018

The Cooperation and Facilitation Investment Agreement (CFIA) in the context of the discussions on the reform of the ISDS system

The Brazilian Cooperation and Facilitation Investment Agreement (CFIA) model establishes an alternative approach to dispute resolution. This does not mean, however, that the CFIA is silent with regards to possible disputes arising from breaches to the agreement and/or claims by investors. Based on the premise that the investment regime between two or more countries is a positive-sum game, in which all parties involved win, the CFIA presents an approach based on the prevention of disputes.

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Investment Policy Brief 10, February 2018

How international investment agreements have made debt restructuring even more difficult and costly

International investment and trade agreements are legally binding international treaties which give investors an additional layer of legal protection on top of the host country law and contract law.  However, little efforts have been made in ironing out the interface between these different laws and treaties. Inconsistencies and even contradictions have emerged in dispute settlement decisions, sometimes at the expense of public good, sovereignty and financial and economic stability. An asymmetry seems to exist in the allocation of risks and benefits between investors and recipients of investments. (more…)

Policy Brief 44, August 2017

Industrialization, inequality and sustainability: What kind of industry policy do we need?

The 2030 Agenda includes as Sustainable Development Goal 9 (SDG 9) the commitment to “build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation”. The entry of this goal into the 2030 Agenda is an achievement for developing countries who have a very diverse situation in terms of population sizes, per capita incomes, economic sizes and structures, political systems, cultures but share the common feature of an underdeveloped industrial sector.Therefore, in order to implement SDG 9 pro-active industry policies are needed that take into account aspects of inequality and sustainability.

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Investment Policy Brief 9, July 2017

The Legal Nature of the Draft Pan-African Investment Code and its Relationship with International Investment Agreements

The present Policy Brief examines the drafting and negotiating process of the draft Pan-African Investment Code (PAIC). It analyses different aspects of this process, particularly the legal nature of the PAIC and its relationship with other international investment agreements.

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Policy Brief 37, March 2017

The Need to Avoid “TRIPS-Plus” Patent Clauses in Trade Agreements

A recent article in a prestigious journal reminds us of how the intellectual property chapter of free trade agreements can prevent the sick from getting treatment.  This article also critiques the TPP clauses and warns that they should not be translated to national laws or copied into other FTAs being negotiated. 
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Investment Policy Brief 8, March 2017

Reflections on the Discussion of Investment Facilitation

‘Investment facilitation’ is a concept repeated in discussions pertaining to investment policies and treaties, including those addressing the reform of investment treaties. The discussion on investment facilitation is taking place in various fora and contexts. (more…)


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