The Use (and Misuse) of European Human Rights Law in Investor-State Arbitration

Date: October 10, 2017, 12:10-1pm
Location: Columbia Law School, Jerome Greene Hall, Room 102B

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), the Columbia International Arbitration Association (CIAA), and the Columbia Society of International Law (CSIL) hosted a talk and discussion on the reliance on European Human Rights law by tribunals in Investor-State arbitration. The talk was given by Professor José E. Alvarez and was based on his recent essay on the subject (also appearing as Ch. 15 in The Impact of EU Law on Commercial Arbitration (Ferrari ed. 2017)). Critics of Investor-State Dispute Settlement have considered that the invocation of human rights law by tribunals and parties to arbitration could help integrate the interpretation of International Investment Agreements with other international legal regimes, in particular those promoting human rights, and help preserve the scope of sovereign States’ regulatory powers. However, upon closer examination of awards in which European human rights law has been cited, it is uncertain whether the reliance on human rights law has done much to promote these objectives.

José E. Alvarez is Herbert and Rose Rubin Professor of International Law at NYU Law School. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Institut de Droit International and a former president of the American Society of International Law. His contributions have spanned a wide range of international law subjects, including international criminal law, international organizations’ law-generating functions, and international investment law. He is co-editor-in-chief of the American Journal of International Law. Previously, he was a special adviser on international law to the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, an attorney adviser with the Office of the Legal Adviser of the US Department of State, and taught at Columbia, the University of Michigan, George Washington, and Georgetown law schools.