Response to the Call for Inputs by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment
“Should the interests of foreign investors trump the human right to a clean,
healthy and sustainable environment?”
14 June 2023
To realize the right to clean, healthy & sustainable environment and reduce ISDS risks, States need to align their FDI policies with human rights, climate action and SDGs, including via reform of the international investment regime.
Preserving Regulatory Space for Sustainable Development in Africa
By Roslyn Ng’eno
Investment has an important role for achieving sustainable development in developing countries. Although international investment agreements (IIAs) can serve as instruments to promote such objective, protection oriented IIAs have undermined the ability of States to regulate in the benefit of the community. Likewise large financial reparations imposed by arbitral tribunals have increased the threat of regulatory chill in the face of major global challenges. Strengthening the right to regulate of States and addressing regulatory chill are key matters to consider in the reform of IIAs and the international investment regime.
Análisis de las intersecciones entre cambio climático y derechos humanos
Por Daniel Uribe Terán y Luis Fernando Rosales
Los efectos del cambio climático en la vida diaria de las personas amenazan el pleno disfrute de los derechos humanos. El Consejo de Derechos Humanos ha adoptado dos resoluciones históricas en las que se reconoce por un lado el derecho humano a un medio ambiente limpio, saludable y sostenible (Resolución 48/13), y se establece por otro el mandato de un Relator Especial sobre la promoción y la protección de los derechos humanos en el contexto del cambio climático (Resolución 48/14). Aun así, parece existir la necesidad de que la CMNUCC y la estructura de derechos humanos de las Naciones Unidas mantengan un diálogo más amplio a fin de dar con una respuesta coordinada y coherente al cambio climático y sus efectos sobre los derechos humanos.
En este documento de investigación se analizan las intersecciones de estos dos sistemas jurídicos. Para ello, se identifica el modo en que las negociaciones relativas al cambio climático y la estructura de derechos humanos pueden contribuir a fortalecer la cooperación internacional. También se reconoce la necesidad de un debate internacional de mayor calado acerca de las relaciones entre los derechos humanos y el cambio climático, coherente con los principios de equidad y las responsabilidades comunes pero diferenciadas del CMNUCC.
Analyse des Intersections entre le Changement Climatique et les Droits de l’Homme
Par Daniel Uribe Teran et Luis Fernando Rosales
Les effets du réchauffement climatique sur la vie quotidienne des êtres humains menacent la pleine jouissance de leurs droits. Le Conseil des droits de l’homme a adopté deux résolutions d’une portée historique, qui reconnaissent le droit de l’homme à un environnement propre, sain et durable (résolution 48/13), et nomment un rapporteur spécial chargé de la promotion et de la protection des droits de l’homme dans le contexte du changement climatique (résolution 48/14). Toutefois, un dialogue plus large entre la Convention-cadre des Nations unies sur les changements climatiques (CCNUCC) et l’architecture de protection des droits de l’homme de l’ONU semble nécessaire en vue de parvenir à une réponse coordonnée et cohérente au réchauffement climatique et à ses effets sur les droits de l’homme.
Le présent document de recherche analyse les points de convergence entre ces deux mécanismes en mettant en avant de quelle manière les négociations sur le réchauffement climatique et l’architecture de protection des droits de l’homme peuvent contribuer à renforcer la coopération internationale. Il reconnaît également la nécessité de discussions plus approfondies au niveau international sur les liens entre droits de l’homme et réchauffement climatique, conformément aux principes d’équité et de responsabilités communes mais différenciées inclus dans la CCNUCC.
Analysing Intersections between Climate Change and Human Rights
By Daniel Uribe Teran and Luis Fernando Rosales
The effects of climate change on people’s daily lives threaten the full enjoyment of human rights. The Human Rights Council adopted two landmark resolutions recognising the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment (Resolution 48/13), and establishing the mandate for a Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change (Resolution 48/14). Nevertheless, a broader dialogue between the UNFCCC and the UN human rights architecture seems necessary to establish a coordinated and coherent response to climate change and its effects on human rights.
This research paper analyses the intersections of these two legal systems. It does so by identifying how the climate change negotiations and the human rights architecture can contribute to strengthening international cooperation. It also recognises the need for a more profound international debate on the linkages between human rights and climate change consistent with the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities included in the UNFCCC.
The Post COVID-19 Recovery: A Stringent Test for the Business and Human Rights Discourse
By H.E. Ambassador Luis Benigno Gallegos Chiriboga
Although the global economic outlook seems to be improving for the rest of 2021 and 2022, such benefits seem to only affect developed economies, while furthering the gap with emerging markets and developing economies. This shows that ‘recovery for all’ will remain gloomy for several years, as access to the COVID-19 vaccine continues to showcase the global inequalities between the rich and the poor. In this scenario, States require to make full use of their regulatory and policy space to protect and promote the human rights of all people and persons in their jurisdictions, including the right to health, while safeguarding the necessary fiscal space towards guaranteeing development expenditures to build back fairer and better. It is time for reducing inequalities rather than increasing the gap between developed and developing nations.
Virtual Consultation in support of the UN Working Group’s 2021 Report to the UN General Assembly on Human Rights-Compatible International Investment Agreements
South Centre, 23 June 2021
Foreign direct investment (FDI) should support States’ efforts to “bring the SDGs and goals of the Paris Agreement to life for all people, everywhere.” However, achievement of these objectives is slowed down in the current situation where investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms are included in international investment agreements (IIAs). These mechanisms have increased the exposure of States to claims from foreign investors against regulatory measures taken to protect and guarantee a clean and safe environment, public health, human rights, social inclusion, and poverty reduction.
In the current scenario marked by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, FDI can be a valuable source of financing a better and fairer recovery, including investment needed to achieve the full realisation of all human rights. But to achieve this potential, there is a need to reshape the international investment regime, including through the reform of its substantive rules and standards, as well as of the ISDS mechanisms embedded in existing IIAs.
The South Centre and the United Nations Working Group on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises convened a virtual consultation to identify and assess the different challenges developing countries face while negotiating or reforming IIAs in line with their international human rights obligations. The virtual consultation aimed at highlighting and discussing some of the most common concerns and challenges those developing countries face in the promotion of responsible investment practices, including an exploratory discussion about balancing the rights and obligations of investors in IIAs and safeguarding the sovereign right of States to regulate in the public interest for building back better and fairer in face of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also discussed possible reforms of the ISDS mechanism.
This Semester Report summarizes the activities undertaken by the South Centre during the period 1st January to 30 June 2021. It is intended to provide information, organized by themes, about recent developments in the areas covered by the Centre’s Work Program, meetings organized or co-organized by the Centre to examine particular issues or provide analytical support for negotiations taking place in various international fora, and conferences and other meetings where the Centre has participated. It also informs about publications of the outcomes of internal policy-oriented research and external contributions made as a result of cooperation with the Centre.
UNCITRAL Working Group III: Moving forward towards consensus or loosing balance?
By Daniel Uribe and Danish
This policy brief considers some concerns arising from the ongoing discussions on procedural reform of investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Working Group III. It highlights the need to allocate sufficient time to deliberate upon the important issues being raised by developing countries. It further discusses some structural reform options that have been identified by the Working Group and reflects on some concerns arising from a possible ‘single undertaking’ approach being implemented through a future possible multilateral agreement on ISDS.
Investment Policy Options for Facing COVID-19 Related ISDS Claims
By Daniel Uribe and Danish
Developing and least developed countries have undertaken a number of measures to fight against the multidimensional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Such measures and those that may be adopted in the context of the recovery efforts are, however, susceptible to challenges by foreign investors using investor-State dispute settlement mechanisms.
This policy brief first considers the kinds of measures States have adopted to limit the spread of COVID-19, protect their strategic sectors and promote economic recovery, including through foreign investment aftercare and retention. It then addresses how the investor-State dispute settlement system (ISDS) has been used by investors in times of crises, based on the analysis of the awards in several cases brought against both developed and developing countries.
Against this backdrop, the brief elaborates on the different options and initiatives States can take for preventing ISDS claims at the national, bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. It concludes with some policy advice for developing and least developed countries to face possible COVID-19 related ISDS claims in the future.
Could COVID-19 trigger ‘localizing’ of international investment arbitration?
In light of the challenges and travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many developing countries have been unable to effectively participate in international investment arbitration proceedings, traditionally held in locations like Washington D.C. and The Hague. To ease the heavy burdens currently being placed on States and ensuring investor confidence, this Policy Brief argues for the ‘localization’ of investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) proceedings in host States and regions where the investment is actually located. It highlights the various advantages that localizing ISDS can bring, and the different regional initiatives already working towards this purpose. The brief also considers relevant legal and policy aspects, and seeks to provide concrete suggestions for the localization of ISDS as a small step towards the holistic reform of international investment arbitration.
Guaranteeing Access to Medicines: Reforming Trade and Investment Treaties in the COVID-19 Era
Eight months into COVID-19, what is the status of the international investment regime and access to essential medicines? The GDP Center’s Working Group on Trade and Access to Medicines will host a panel discussion on trade, the investment regime, and access to essential medicines. The event is co-sponsored by the South Centre, the intergovernmental organization of developing nations based in Switzerland.