Investing in Development: The Role of Democracy and Accountability in International Investment Law

29 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2009

See all articles by Graham Mayeda

Graham Mayeda

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section

Date Written: October 27, 2009


This article explores whether international investment agreements (IIAs) have the potential to impede democratic expression and, as a result, hinder sustainable development. The author first demonstrates that democracy plays an essential role in the promotion of sustainable development and provides a normative (rather than procedural) definition of democracy. The three ways in which IIAs can limit democracy are then addressed. First, they can limit the policy space of developing countries. This is demonstrated through an analysis of how types of provisions commonly found in IIAs can negatively affect policy flexibility. Second, democracy can be indirectly limited through the decisions of international investment tribunals, which give little deference to the decisions of domestic democratic forums. Third, democracy can be undermined if foreign investors are not accountable to any democratic government. In this regard, it is necessary for IIAs to impose obligations on home states and investors to ensure that investors behave in socially responsible ways. The article concludes with suggestions for ways in which developing countries can structure IIAs to support democracy rather than detract from it.

Keywords: International investment agreements, bilateral investment treaties, sustainable development, democracy, expropriation, fair and equitable treatment, exhaustion of dmoestic remedies

Suggested Citation

Mayeda, Graham, Investing in Development: The Role of Democracy and Accountability in International Investment Law (October 27, 2009). Alberta Law Review, Vol. 46, No. 6, 2009, Available at SSRN:

Graham Mayeda (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa - Common Law Section ( email )

57 Louis Pasteur Street
Ottawa, K1N 6N5
613-562-5800 (2915) (Phone)

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