Investment Law and Policy

A core part of CCSI’s work focuses on international investment agreements (IIAs), examining how such treaties can be designed to promote the type of FDI that can help countries meet their sustainable development goals, while also leaving governments adequate policy space to regulate in the public interest. This includes various components such as mapping the domestic policy frameworks in developed and developing countries that are governing FDI flows; identifying potential conflicts between IIAs and governments’ domestic policy space and identifying strategies for resolving those tensions in existing and future agreements; and analyzing investor-state arbitration – the mechanism used to enforce IIA obligations – and furthering dialogue and reform efforts designed to ensure that that method of dispute resolution meets the needs of its stakeholders.

Our Activities and Projects

+ Coordinating Multi-Stakeholder and Expert Dialogue

  • Investment Arbitration and Human Rights
    CCSI focuses on the intersection of international investment law and international human rights law, and the impacts of their application for the most vulnerable of rights-holders. Among other things, this includes a specific focus on investment arbitrations, and their implications for the realization of human rights.
  • International Investment and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
    In May 2016, CCSI and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples co-hosted a workshop on indigenous peoples and investment. The workshop brought together indigenous representatives, legal practitioners, academics, and other stakeholders to discuss how international investment and trade frameworks, and the international human rights law regime can be reformed to strengthen the rights of indigenous peoples.
  • Online Forum: New Thinking on Investment Treaties
    Beginning on June 15, 2015, CCSI and the Global Economic Governance Programme at Oxford University launched a series of short presentations by academics, practitioners, and civil society on key topics in international investment law. The series facilitates open access to cutting-edge research and information, and aims to help enrich discussions about the past, present, and future... read more
  • Columbia International Investment Conference
    Since 2006, CCSI has hosted an annual Columbia International Investment Conference. These annual conferences bring together numerous stakeholders including high-level government officials, corporate executives, investors, academics, and civil society for forward-looking policy discussions of critical issues in international investment for sustainable development. A list of the past Conferences, with links to the programs and materials,... read more
  • Speaker Series on International Investment Law and Policy
    CCSI hosts an annual Spring Speaker Series on International Investment Law and Policy that brings practitioners and experts in the field of international investment law to highlight and explore timely and topical issues or developments in the field. This Series, which is open to and attracts a diverse audience including students, academics, and practitioners, deepens understanding... read more
  • Ad-hoc events
    CCSI regularly hosts speakers, roundtables, workshops, and events on a variety of related topics.

+ Policy and Advisory

  • Third Party Funding in Investor-State Dispute Settlement
    Modern forms of third party funding are no longer new to international arbitration. Recent years have seen significant increases in the number of funders, the number of funded cases, the number of law firms working with funders and the number of reported cases involving issues relating to funding. When third-party funding is used in investor-state... read more
  • Think20 (T20) Trade and Investment Task Force Reports
    The Think20 (T20) is an initiative that brings together research institutes and think tanks from the G20 countries to develop policy recommendations within thematic Task Forces. CCSI staff member Lise Johnson was a member of the Trade and Investment Task Force, contributing to a PolicyBrief presenting recommendations for the G20’s engagement with the multilateraltrade and... read more
  • Investment Arbitration and Human Rights
    CCSI focuses on the intersection of international investment law and international human rights law, and the impacts of their application for the most vulnerable of rights-holders. Among other things, this includes a specific focus on investment arbitrations, and their implications for the realization of human rights.
  • Bridging the Gaps between Investment Law and Environmental Policy
    CCSI is reviewing international investment agreements and the case law interpreting them, and analyzing what the treaties mean for domestic environmental policy.
  • Making Investment Treaties Work for Sustainable Development: Addressing Challenges in Existing Agreements and Designing New Frameworks
    CCSI is providing policy and advisory to governments on using investment treaties to support advancement of policy goals, and also supporting other inter- and non-governmental organizations in these areas.
  • Improving the International Law and Policy Regime
    This project, commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, seeks to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses of the current international investment law and policy regime and outline options for improvement.
  • Promoting Transparency in Investor-State Arbitration
    Committed to the belief that transparency in investor-state arbitration is fundamental for accountability, good governance, and the rule of law, elements which are, in turn, crucial for sustainable development, CCSI has been involved in the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) proceedings to increase public access to information regarding disputes.
  • United Nations Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations: experience and lessons learned
    The first effort to arrive at comprehensive and balanced rules governing the relations of governments and multinational enterprises were undertaken in the United Nations a few decades ago. The negotiations of a United Nations Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations began in the late 1970s against the background of the quest for a New International Economic Order,... read more

+ Research

  • Exploring Alternatives to ISDS
    Investment treaties are often described as instruments aiming to (1) promote investment flows; (2) provide investors remedies for harms; (3) improve governance and the rule of law in host countries; and (4) depoliticize disputes – objectives of varying degrees of importance to multinational enterprises, home states, host states, and other stakeholders. The investor-state dispute settlement... read more
  • Investment Treaties and Environmental Protection: Actual and Potential Interactions
    CCSI examines how investment treaties (both their substantive standards and dispute settlement mechanisms) can, do, and should impact development and implementation of environmental policy, including, but not limited to, measures related to climate change. CCSI implements this project through a range of activities. These include: reviewing all publicly available investor-state arbitration decisions to identify implications... read more
  • Closing Accountability Loopholes and Ensuring Compensation for Environmental Harm
    While international investment can provide transfers of capital and technology that spread the use of environmentally sound products and processes, and enable countries to “leapfrog” more polluting phases of development, it can also give rise to certain environmental risks. For one, strategies that firms use to structure their operations across borders and the doctrine of... read more
  • Investment Law and Intra-National Inequality
    Contrary to SDG 10, which aims to combat inequality both within and among countries, levels of intra-national inequality in particular are on the rise in many countries. It is therefore timely and crucial to examine what factors are causing these gaps, and how they might be reduced. CCSI is examining the role of investment treaties... read more
  • Amicus Raising Human Rights Arguments in Respect of Investor-State Disputes
    With the support of the Environmental Law Clinic at Columbia Law School and the Law School Clinic at Sciences Po, CCSI submitted an application to file a written submission as an “other person” in Bear Creek Mining Corporation v. Republic of Peru. CCSI’s submission focused on a range of issues, including: The implications of international... read more
  • Aligning Investment Treaties with Sustainable Development
    Policy makers and other stakeholders are currently asking fundamental questions about whether and to what extent international investment agreements (IIAs) are consistent with and are helping to advance sustainable development objectives at home and abroad. A CCSI study commissioned by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation provides a framework to help answer those questions about... read more
  • Investment Arbitration and Human Rights
    CCSI focuses on the intersection of international investment law and international human rights law, and the impacts of their application for the most vulnerable of rights-holders. Among other things, this includes a specific focus on investment arbitrations, and their implications for the realization of human rights.
  • Research Series on New Trends in and Development Impacts of International Investment Law
    An ongoing stream of CCSI’s work is to follow developments with claims made and decisions issued in treaty-based investor-state arbitrations, and produce papers documenting these developments and highlighting their implications for environmental, social and economic policy.
  • Relationship between Investment Treaty Protections and Domestic Law Standards
    With over 3000 international investment treaties in existence and governments continuing to negotiate and ratify additional bilateral and multilateral investment treaties, it is important to have a clear understanding of the implications of these investment treaties on investor protections and state liability, and the resulting balance of public and private interests that they strike. To... read more
  • Bridging the Gaps between Investment Law and Environmental Policy
    CCSI is reviewing international investment agreements and the case law interpreting them, and analyzing what the treaties mean for domestic environmental policy.
  • Essential Security Clauses in International Investment Agreements
    This project looks at the extent to which international investment agreements have come to incorporate clauses that provide the parties with exceptions from the application of certain disciplines.
  • China’s emergence as an important outward investor and implications for international investment law
    China has become one of the three most important outward foreign direct investors, complementing its role as one of the most important host countries world wide and the most important one among developing countries. Moreover, the country has concluded the second highest number of of bilateral investment treaties, in addition to free trade agreements with... read more
  • China-US Bilateral Investment Treaty
    This project looks at the obstacles to an agreement between China and the US, and the compromises that could possibly be envisioned.
  • Outward FDI and Competitive Neutrality
    The study of outward FDI and competitive neutrality seeks to analyze what measures home countries have undertaken to support their outward investing enterprises and what the salient features are of these measures.
  • Review of Legal Frameworks Governing Public-Private Partnerships
    CCSI is working to deepen and broaden understanding regarding the appropriate legal frameworks that can better ensure that public-private partnerships result in high quality, accountable, and sustainable infrastructure and related services.
  • Leveraging Investment for Sustainable Development: the Role of Performance Requirements for Technology Transfer
    This project furthers research (1) on the types of performance requirements countries may want to use (or avoid using) in order to fully reap the benefits from investments by MNEs; and (2) the role of international investment agreements in promoting or restricting use of such performance requirements.
  • Home-country Measures Supporting International Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation
    This research project focuses on identifying concrete actions home states can take to help catalyze and channel FDI to enhance technology transfer for climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies.
  • Emerging-Market MNEs and Sustainable Development
    The Emerging Market Global Players Project leads and coordinates research among a worldwide network of academics and institutions that produce new studies on the salient features of MNEs from emerging markets and their impact on sustainable development.
  • Intra-African Investment Flows
    In partnership with Africa Investor, CCSI evaluated trends in intra-African investment flows over the last 10 years. A high-level summary of the research was published in the November 2012 edition of Africa Investor magazine.

+ Resources and Tools

+ Teaching and Curriculum Development