International law is weak except when it comes to protecting foreign investors, who have been afforded – in thousands of treaties – an exceptionally robust power to bring international claims against countries. This seminar examines the design of and current developments in international investment law and arbitration, also known as investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). It would be of interest to students interested in public international law, international arbitration, international business and regulation, the political economy of law and North-South relations, and law and development. The main focus is on areas of public international law, and to a lesser extent domestic law and policy, governing the regulatory relationship between the state and foreign owners of assets in a country. Particular attention is paid to bilateral investment treaties (e.g. Canada-China FIPA, other BITs) and regional trade agreements (e.g. NAFTA, CETA). The seminar also examines the burgeoning body of arbitration awards under investment treaties.
Classically, this area is one of the three branches of international economic law, alongside international monetary law and international trade law. Potential topics include: policy issues in regulation of foreign investment; background to investment treaties and relevant arbitration treaties; major arbitration institutions and rules; foreign investor protections in the treaties, such as ‘fair and equitable treatment’, ‘full protection and security’, compensation for ‘expropriation’, ‘national treatment’, and ‘most-favoured-nation treatment’; issues of jurisdiction and admissibility of claims in investment arbitration; remedies and state liability; and enforcement of awards. The aim is to give students a solid grounding in the legal issues, while also providing opportunities for critical discussion and reflection on the law and possible reforms and for the development of skills in analysis; listening, presentation, and discussion, and research and writing. The course design will be adapted with care to the present ‘remote era’ of teaching and learning. Besides a research paper, students will be asked to take part in such activities as a presentation, facilitation of a guest visit, a role play, or a debate – all meant to help make our learning fun and interesting.