Past Event

13th Annual Columbia International Investment Conference: “Rethinking International Investment Governance: Principles for the 21st Century”

September 27, 2018
9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Event time is displayed in your time zone.
Faculty House, Columbia University, New York

The Conference program is available here.

See panelist biographies here.

The world has entered a critical moment for international economic policy. International investment is widely recognized as essential to global sustainable development, facilitating the transfer of technology, skills, capital, and jobs across borders, providing access to environmentally sound practices and offering livelihoods supported by the global economy. But mobility of capital can lead, among other things, to economic volatility, job insecurity, races to the bottom in terms of environmental, social, and fiscal policies, and governance gaps making it difficult for individuals or entities harmed by multinational enterprises to effectively secure remedies. The stakes are high, and the outcomes uncertain.

Public discontent with international investment treaties has produced a fundamental shift in policy in some contexts, and various discussions of reform in international and regional fora. This presents a crucial, and potentially fleeting, opportunity to advance a progressive vision of international investment that will govern this complex and nuanced field going forward.

This Conference sought to elaborate principles for a progressive investment agenda. It reflected on the current investment regime – of the network of over 3,000 investment agreements – and the extent to which the regime aligns with or undermines those principles. We then re-imagined investment governance, and considered the role that international cooperation could play to advance sustainable, development-oriented investment.

At the Conference, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce honored the winner of its Treaty Lab contest to redesign international investment agreements to encourage foreign investment in climate mitigation and adaptation. There was a reception, hosted by Mannheimer Swartling, following the end of the Conference on September 28.

Speakers included:

  • Ben Beachy, Director, Trade Program, Sierra Club
  • Joan Carling, Co-Convenor, Indigenous Peoples’ Major Group (IPMG) for Sustainable Development, Columbia University 
  • Carlos Correa, Executive Director, The South Centre 
  • Eleanor Fox, Walter J. Derenberg Professor of Trade Regulation, New York University School of Law
  • Kevin Gallagher, Professor of Global Development Policy; Director, Global Development Policy Center, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University
  • Frank Garcia, Professor, Boston College, School of Law
  • Anna Joubin-Bret, Director, International Trade Law Division, United Nations Office of Legal Affairs; Secretary, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)
  • Minister Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, The Netherlands
  • Jane Kelsey, Professor of Law, University of Auckland, New Zealand
  • Kerry Kennedy, President, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights
  • Iris Krebber, Head of Agriculture, UK Department for International Development (DFID)
  • Howie Mann, Senior International Law Advisor, International Institute for Sustainable Development
  • Ricardo Meléndez-Ortiz, Chief Executive Officer, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development
  • Kinda Mohamadieh, Senior Researcher, Global Governance for Development Programme, The South Centre
  • Cecilia Olivet, Programme Coordinator, Trade & Investment, Transnational Institute (TNI)
  • Luis Parada, Senior Counsel, Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt & Mosle LLP
  • Nicolás M. Perrone, Assistant Professor of International Law, Durham Law School; Visiting Professor, Universidad Nacional de San Martín
  • Matt Porterfield, Deputy Director and Adjunct Professor, Harrison Institute for Public Law, Georgetown University
  • Sarah Pray, Team Manager Fiscal Governance Program, Open Society Foundation
  • Anita Ramasastry, Professor of Law and Director, Sustainable International Development Program, University of Washington School of Law; Member, United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights
  • Jeffrey Sachs, Director, Center for Sustainable Development, Columbia University 
  • Mavluda Sattorova, Senior Lecturer, University of Liverpool Law School; Director of the Liverpool Economic Governance Unit (LEGU)
  • Karl Sauvant, Senior Fellow, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
  • Susan Sell, Professor, School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University
  • Greg Shaffer, Director, Center on Globalization, Law, and Society, University of California Irvine, School of Law
  • Sanya Reid Smith, Legal Advisor and Senior Researcher, Third World Network
  • Kyla Tienhaara, Canada Research Chair in Economy and Environment, Queen’s University
  • Irma Mosquera Valderrama, Associate Professor of Tax Law at Leiden University, the Netherlands