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Law General

The Trouble with Foreign Investor Protection

by (author) Gus Van Harten

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Nov 2020
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Nov 2020
    List Price

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Governments are rightly discussing reform of investment treaties, and of the incredibly powerful system of "investor-state dispute settlement" (ISDS) upon which they rest. At their core, ISDS treaties are flawed because they very firmly institute wealth-based inequality under international law. In this book, Van Harten explores these claims in the light of the history of early ISDS treaties showing their ties to decolonization and, at times, extreme violence and authoritarianism.

Focusing on early ISDS lawsuits and rulings, it is revealed how a small group of lawyers and arbitrators worked to create the legal foundations for massive growth of ISDS since 2000. ISDS-based protections are examined in detail to demonstrate how they give exceptional advantages to the wealthy. Various examples are also offered of how the protections have been used to reconfigure state decision-making and shift sovereign minds in favour of foreign investors. Lastly, the ongoing efforts of governments to reform ISDS are surveyed, with a call to go further or, best of all, to withdraw from the treaties. This book is essential reading for anyone wanting to know more about the shady world of investment protection.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Gus Van Harten is a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School of York University, where he has taught for 12 years since completing his PhD and teaching at the London School of Economics. He specializes in international investment law and administrative law and is a leading academic critic of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), having written several books and dozens of academic articles on the subject.

Other titles by Gus Van Harten