Investor-State Arbitration

About the Series

As negotiators from the United States, Mexico and Canada tasked with modernizing the North American Free Trade Agreement turn their attention to the controversial topic of disputes between investors and states, this series from the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) critically assesses some of the most hotly-debated perspectives on the issue.

Launched in November 2014, this project addresses a central policy issue of contemporary international investment protection law: is investor-state arbitration (ISA) suitable between developed liberal democratic countries?

The project seeks to establish how many agreements exist or are planned between economically developed liberal democracies. It reviews legal and policy reactions to ISAs taking place within these countries and summarizes the substantive grounds upon which claims are being made and their impact on public policy making by governments.

The project reviews, critically assesses and critiques arguments made in favour and against the growing use of ISA between developed democracies — paying particular attention to Canada, the European Union, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Australia, where civil society groups and academic critics have come out against ISA. The project examines the arguments that investor-state disputes are best left to the national courts in the subject jurisdiction. It also examines whether domestic law in the countries examined gives the foreign investor rights of action before the domestic courts against the government, equivalent to those provided by contemporary investment protection agreements.

CIGI Senior Fellow Armand de Mestral was the lead researcher on the ISA project. Contributors to the project were Marc Bungenberg, Charles-Emmanuel Côté, David Gantz, Shotaro Hamamoto, Younsik Kim, Céline Lévesque, Csongor István Nagy, Luke Nottage, Ucheora Onwuamaegbu, Carmen Otero, Hugo Perezcano, August Reinisch and David Schneiderman. A conference was held in Ottawa on September 25, 2015. The papers presented at that conference were published as CIGI papers and appeared as a collective book titled Second Thoughts: Investor-State Arbitration between Developed Democracies in 2017.

In the Series