Haniehalsadat Aboutorabifard

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Dissertation Title: Examining the role of transnational environmental initiatives in incorporating environmental values into international investment law

Dissertation Topic:

The investor-state environmental disputes arise from foreign investors’ claims against the environmental measures of host states. Environmental protection regulations implemented by host countries could adversely affect investment activities and reduce their prospected revenue. International investment Agreements (IIAs) entitle investors to bring cases against host states and submit them to international investment tribunals. In these cases, the tribunals need to govern investor-state environmental disputes based on applicable laws. Applicable laws governing the disputes, therefore, are of paramount importance to determine whether environmental measures of host states are legitimate. They could impose obligations on host states to protect investor rights. In contrast, applicable laws could allocate responsibilities on investors to manage investment-associated environmental issues.

Applicable laws in investment-state disputes are international laws required by international investment tribunals. Applying international laws to investment tribunals is a distinctive method to integrate non-commercial values into IIAs. For instance, by taking international environmental law into account, the tribunal could consider environmental issues throughout investor-state environmental dispute procedures. However, the application of international laws directly conflicting with investor rights, which are established by IIAs and supposed to be protected by host states, would be rather unrealistic from the perspective of international investment arbitrations.

Leaving aside the existing conflict between applicable international laws and IIAs, I am interested in investigating the relevance of Transnational Environmental Initiatives (TEIs) concerning environmental management within the investment sector, as applicable law for investor-state environmental arbitration. Through addressing this question, I will propose a new set of norms that not only could be considered as a potential source of applicable law, but also are internally coherent with IIAs’ components.


  • Master in Sustainability Management - University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, September 2013- March 2016.
  • Bachelor of Law - Tehran University, Tehran, Iran, September 2008-January 2012.

Teaching Experience

  • Teaching Assistant, “Introduction to Business and Society”, York University, Fall 2016- present.
  • Teaching Assistant, “Ecological Economy”, University of Waterloo, Winter 2014.

Professional Experience

  • Student Leadership Certificate, Student Success Office, University of Waterloo, Winter 2015.
  • Teaching Fundamentals Certificate, Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Waterloo, Winter 2015.


  • The Hon. William G.C. Howland Award of Excellence Entrance Scholarships, Osgoode Hall Law School, 2016- 2020 academic years.
  • Graduate Scholarship for academic excellence, York University, 2016-2017 academic year.
  • Graduate Scholarship for academic excellence, University of Waterloo, May 2015.
  • Graduate Scholarship for academic excellence, University of Waterloo, May 2014.
  • Environmental Studies Graduate Experience Award, University of Waterloo, January 2014.
  • International Student Award, University of Waterloo, September 2013.


  • “Equator Principles and Climate Change Management”, IAIA Conference, Montreal, April 2017
  • “Underlying Theories for Climate Change Integration into EIA”, Osgoode GLSA Conference, Toronto, March 2017
  • “Climate Change Mitigation within the Project Finance Sector”, Third Annual Ontario Climate Consortium, Guelph, May 2015