Investor-State Arbitration Tribunals

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How a documentary film can help UNCITRAL Working Group III think through ISDS reform

As states explore options to reform investment treaties and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), they can draw on a growing body of grounded perspectives about how the system works in practice and how it is experienced by those involved in or affected by investment disputes. The Tribunal, a documentary film directed by Malcolm Rogge in collaboration with the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), offers a powerful illustration of the ways in which ISDS can impact third parties, exacerbate inequalities, and reinforce power imbalances. In the Spring of 2022, Rogge travelled to the Intag Valley, Ecuador, to film a sequel to his 2008 documentary on a complex investment dispute around a copper mining project. The new film sheds light on how local actors experienced their exclusion from ISDS proceedings. Their perspectives provide distinctive insights for policy processes aimed at reforming ISDS, such as UNCITRAL Working Group III on ISDS Reform. The Copper Mesa v. Ecuador dispute At the centre of the new…

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UNCITRAL and ISDS Reform: Lifelong Learning

How many International Investment Disputes have there been since 1973? How many International Investment Disputes are ongoing now? We do not know. There is no authoritative count. How many treaty-based awards issued by arbitral tribunals since 2000 are not publicly available? Again, nothing authoritative can be said except that a sizeable percentage of such awards are not available.

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UNCITRAL and ISDS Reform: Moving to the Delivery Phase

The investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) reform process underway in UNCITRAL Working Group III has entered the delivery phase. The first four reform products were delivered in July 2023, when they were adopted by the UNCITRAL Commission. The Working Group plans to deliver more reform products – an advisory centre and possibly also guidelines on dispute prevention – to…

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The Mandate Conundrum: Reflections on the 46th Session of the UNCITRAL Working Group III on ISDS Reform

The UNCITRAL Working Group III convened in Vienna between 9 and 13 October 2023 for its 46th session to discuss the establishment of an advisory centre on international investment law, which would be tasked to provide legal and technical assistance in connection with investor-State disputes. In addition, it would tackle a number of…

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Polluter Doesn’t Pay: The Rockhopper v Italy Award

Last August, an ICSID tribunal handed down its much-anticipated ECT-based award in the dispute between Rockhopper, a British oil and gas company, and the Italian Republic. Rockhopper had been denied a licence to exploit an offshore oilfield, due to legislation banning oil production concessions within a certain distance from the coastline. The ban was adopted as a result…

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