Aligning International Investment Agreements with the Sustainable Development Goals
63 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2019 Last revised: 29 Jul 2020
Date Written: September 11, 2019
International investment agreements (“IIAs”) provide enforceable protections to foreign investors in order to stimulate investment flows and therefore sustainable development. However, as understandings of both the effectiveness of these agreements as well as the effects of investment and investment governance on sustainable development have evolved, it is not clear that IIAs as currently designed are fit for that purpose. This paper examines the alignment of IIAs with the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. This paper develops this examination in three ways. First, it proposes that IIAs should be designed and evaluated with respect to their ability to promote investments that advance sustainable development goals, and to withhold benefits from investments that undermine these goals. Second, it considers the effects of IIAs on policy-making processes and regulatory space, and cautions that current provisions in IIAs protect the interests of investors over those of other stakeholders and constrain states’ abilities to regulate investments to conform with the public interest. Finally, it suggests that international agreements could and should do more to address transnational governance gaps, regulatory races to the bottom, and global commons problems, where international commitments related to the governance of investment could advance development outcomes. While the authors affirm the importance of foreign direct investment and international investment governance to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, they argue that existing IIAs must be meaningfully reformed and future treaties reimagined in order to align with the sustainable development goals.
Keywords: International Investment, Investment Treaties, Sustainable Development
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