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International investment law regulates the entry and operation of foreign investment and is one of the fastest-growing fields of public international law. This subject begins by tracing the historical, political and economic causes for the protection of foreign investment across custom, bilateral and regional investment treaties. It then focuses on the unique system of dispute resolution in this field, which gives private (foreign) actors the right to pursue claims for damages against states. This subject explores a series of case studies to evaluate the impact of investment law across a range of core values, including public health, environmental regulation and the protection of human rights.
Principal topics include:
- Nature, evolution and context of international investment law
- Overview of bilateral investment treaties (BITs), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Energy Charter Treaty and parts of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
- Scope of protection: definition of ‘investor’ and ‘investment‘
- Relative obligations of non-discrimination: most-favored-nation (MFN) and national treatment
- Obligation to accord foreign investors ‘fair and equitable treatment‘
- Expropriation and the quantification of compensation
- Contract claims versus treaty claims: the ‘umbrella’ clause
- Arbitration under the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Convention.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of key areas of international investment law, including bilateral, regional and multilateral investment treaties
- Be able to critically examine, analyse, interpret and assess the effectiveness of these legal rules
- Be an engaged participant in debate regarding controversies surrounding the impact of international investment law and arbitration on various aspects of state sovereignty (including development strategies and the human rights of citizens in host states)
- Have a detailed understanding of the major forms of dispute settlement in the field (including the International Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes) and their similarities and differences with respect to commercial arbitration.
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse existing and emerging legal issues relating to international investment law
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding international investment law to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences
- Be able to demonstrate autonomy, expert judgment and responsibility as a practitioner and learner in the field of international investment law.
Last updated: 3 November 2022