Investor-State Arbitration Tribunals

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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. The important work of Investment Arbitration Reporter and others mean that we have informal knowledge about the existence of many cases. But our frequent inability to answer even basic questions about the full universe is a salutary reminder that we – as a scholarly community and as a policymaking community – know less than is ideal about investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). Starting with how little we know also reframes what is happening at UNCITRAL Working Group III, which has been discussing ISDS reform since 2017. Sure, the Working Group is developing and delivering reforms, as we discuss in yesterday’s companion blog. In addition, however, the Working Group is facilitating learning and generating authoritative information as states…

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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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UNCITRAL and ISDS Reform: What to Expect When You’re Expecting

From September 5 – 16, the delegates of UNCITRAL Working Group III were back in Vienna to continue discussing ISDS reform. While it was possible for registered delegates to watch the proceedings online, it was only possible to make interventions in person. This approach, which we understand to be a general UN approach, decisively shifted the Working Group’s…

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