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Investment Law and Policy Reform

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Investment treaties and the way disputes are settled under them­­—a process known as investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS)—are facing increasing scrutiny. A call for reform has therefore emerged.

To achieve global aims such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), international investment law and policy need to be reformed and redirected toward boosting environmentally sound investment that generates broad socioeconomic benefits for citizens of home and host states. To this end, IISD works with national governments, regional and international organizations, academics and civil society to reshape investment law and policy frameworks collaboratively and innovatively.

IISD hosts a series of interactive expert meetings, bringing together key audiences to work toward solutions, fostering creative thinking and developing elements of a progressive agenda on reform. These include obligations on investors and mechanisms to enhance access to justice for individuals and communities affected by foreign investment projects.

We also actively participate in the multilateral inter-governmental process at the United Nations Conference on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) to discuss possible ISDS reform. IISD aims to promote the much-needed development of a comprehensive and inclusive dispute settlement mechanism, providing alternatives to arbitration and enabling the participation of all stakeholders.  

Explore our investment law and policy reform work further below.

Active Projects

Investment Law and Policy Reform: A Series of Expert Meetings

Investment treaties and investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) have come under increasing scrutiny over the past decade. A call for reform has emerged. IISD is working towards progressive solutions. Through a series of interactive expert meetings, IISD has fostered innovative thinking and developed elements of a progressive agenda on investment.

UNCITRAL and Reform of Investment Dispute Settlement

In 2015–2016 the Secretariat of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) conducted a study on whether the United Nations Convention on Transparency in Treaty-based Investor–State Arbitration (Mauritius Convention) could provide a useful model for possible reforms in the field of investor–state arbitration.

Webinars on Investment Law and Policy

This webinar series aims to provide information on developments in international investment law and policy, equipping developing country governments and regional organizations to negotiate better treaties and contracts and prepare for and manage investment disputes.

  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 10, Issue 2, June 2019

    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 10, Issue 2, June 2019

    Investment Treaty News (ITN) is IISD’s flagship journal on international investment law and policy.

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  • Report
    Canadian Initiatives Against Bribery by Foreign Investors

    Canadian Initiatives Against Bribery by Foreign Investors

    Building on the recognition that corruption threatens sustainable development, the report analyzes Canadian legal initiatives under both domestic and international law against bribery by Canadian businesses investing abroad.

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  • Commentary
    World Bank–IMF Development Committee Stresses Institutional Accountability at Spring Meetings, Amid Planned IFC Reforms

    World Bank–IMF Development Committee Stresses Institutional Accountability at Spring Meetings, Amid Planned IFC Reforms

    Communities may be able to sue international financial institutions when their livelihoods and well-being have been harmed by development.

    Read More
  • Blog
    How Could China’s New Foreign Investment Law Impact Trade Debate?

    How Could China’s New Foreign Investment Law Impact Trade Debate?

    Negotiators from the United States and China have met repeatedly in recent weeks to reach an agreement to resolve some of the trade irritants between them, including the high-profile issue of forced technology transfers.

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  • Newsletter
    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 10, Issue 1, April 2019

    Investment Treaty News (ITN), Volume 10, Issue 1, April 2019

    Investment Treaty News (ITN) is IISD’s flagship journal on international investment law and policy.

    Read More
  • Commentary
    Summary Comments to the Proposals for Amendment of the ICSID Arbitration Rules

    Summary Comments to the Proposals for Amendment of the ICSID Arbitration Rules

    This commentary focuses on select aspects of the ICSID Secretariat's March 15, 2019 draft proposals for amendment of the ICSID Arbitration Rules.

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  • Blog
    Investor–State Dispute Settlement Reform Talks Resume at UNCITRAL

    Investor–State Dispute Settlement Reform Talks Resume at UNCITRAL

    The next meeting of a United Nations working group debating options for reforming investor–state dispute settlement takes place in New York April 1 to 5.

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  • Policy Brief
    Weighing up the Environmental Cooperation Agreement under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement

    Weighing up the Environmental Cooperation Agreement under the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement

    Trade agreements can have important environmental effects. We take a look at what’s old, what’s new and what’s noteworthy in the Canada–United States–Mexico Agreement when it comes to the environment.

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  • Blog
    Reducing IIA Risks to Climate Change Rules Using Permits

    Reducing IIA Risks to Climate Change Rules Using Permits

    The purchase of Washington Gas holds important developments for permitting foreign investment without hampering the growth of climate change regulations.

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  • Commentary
    Reply to Public Consultation on Canada's International Investment Agreements (FIPAs)

    Reply to Public Consultation on Canada's International Investment Agreements (FIPAs)

    The Canadian government launched a public consultation on Canada’s foreign investment promotion and protection agreements (FIPAs) on August 14, 2018. This commentary outlines IISD's reply.

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