Conceptualizing Change in the International Investment Regime Complex
26 Pages Posted: 6 Aug 2018 Last revised: 13 Aug 2018
Date Written: April 4, 2018
Dozens of countries are reviewing their extant international investment agreement commitments, fueling the global debate about the future of investment protection in trade and investment agreements. Although the rate of new international investment agreements has slowed, intra-developed country agreement negotiations are on the rise. This paper contributes to the nascent literature on conceptualizing change in the international investment regime complex. I first outline the contours of state-led reform efforts to show they are procedural and incremental in nature, rather than substantive and transformative. I then argue we can understand the incremental evolution of the international investment regime complex through the lens of political legitimacy. Political legitimacy is not a static condition and its requirements change over time. The politicization of international investment agreements and the expansion of the community to whom legitimacy is owed create space for new legitimacy requirements for the regime complex. However, the ability of states to fulfill these requirements is heavily mediated by the existing social structure and institutionalized norms of the regime complex.
Keywords: investment; trade; international law; institutions; political economy; legitimacy
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