Reformed ISDS

The investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism has come under fire in the past few years. As a result of many controversial cases, civil society groups, international organisations, academics, lawyers and state officials have argued that the arbitration process has had a negative impact on public interest and is need of reform or should be scrapped altogether.

Therefore tweaked versions of the system have been proposed to avoid the most undesired “side effects” of standard ISDS rules. At least 45 countries and four regional blocs are revising or have recently revised their investment model agreements.

In 2012, South Africa, the government started to withdraw from its bilateral investment treaties and amended domestic legislation to make it compatible with BIT-like investor protections while incorporating exceptions where warranted by public interest considerations.

In 2014, Indonesia decided to terminate 67 bilateral investment treaties and has also been developing a new model BIT that supposedly reflects a more balanced approach between the country’s right to regulate and foreigner investor protection.

In 2015, the European Commission established a new ’Investment Court System’ to replace the current ISDS mechanism in its trade deals. The ICS has been incorporated in the EU deals with Canada (CETA) and Vietnam. It has also been proposed for the ongoing negotiations with Mexico, the Philippines and the US (TTIP). However many critics claim that this new system is largely window-dressing.

In December 2015, India released a revised model BIT which, for instance, requires investors to exhaust domestic remedies (Indian courts) before turning to international arbitration and leaves out “fair and equitable treatment” provisions.

In 2016, members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) amended the SADC Finance and Investment Protocol that included ISDS provisions. The amendments eliminate the ISDS mechanism (only state-to-state arbitration remains) and narrow the scope of investors’ rights, including exclusion of “fair and equitable treatment”, limitations to “national treatment” to allow for local preferences, obligation for investors to follow host state domestic law and exception from investment rules for policies enacted to comply with international treaties.

In South America, experts from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) have been developing an investment settlement centre, as an alternative to the World Bank’s ICSID.

February 2017

Maroc Diplomatique | 6-Jul-2020
L’arbitrage international doit bonnement et simplement modérer ses pouvoirs aux fins de garantir les droits et l’autonomie des personnes et éviter les entorses qui seraient de nature à porter atteinte à la substance même des droits et des libertés.
IISD | 1-Jul-2020
In the face of the increasing number of claims brought by investors against host states on the basis of BITs and the exorbitant amounts awarded to investors, Morocco has undertaken a review of its model BIT using a flexible and rational approach.
IISD | 1-Jul-2020
Face au nombre croissant de recours présentés par des investisseurs contre des pays d’accueil au titre de traités bilatéraux d’investissement, le Maroc a entrepris de réviser son modèle de TBI au moyen d’une approche souple et rationnelle.
IISD | 1-Jul-2020
Frente a un creciente número de demandas entabladas por inversores contra Estados receptores en virtud de TBI y exorbitantes sumas otorgadas a los inversores por tribunales arbitrales, Marruecos ha emprendido la revisión de su modelo de TBI.
| 9-Jun-2020
The EU Commission has launched a public consultation calling for comments on its initiative to improve the protection of intra-EU investment. This initiative could lead to the adoption of new rules enhancing investors’ rights vis-à-vis EU Member States and to the creation of new enforcement mechanisms for investors within the EU.
Lexology | 5-May-2020
In recent years, observers have questioned whether investor–state arbitration will or should be a feature of the next generation of free trade and bilateral investment treaties.
Euractiv | 30-Apr-2020
An updated European Commission proposal to reform the Energy Charter Treaty is falling short of what’s needed to reinstate governments’ “right to regulate” in areas like climate change, activists say.
Modern Diplomacy | 10-Apr-2020
This is Brazil’s 10th and India’s 4th bilateral investment agreement since both nations had adopted their Model Bilateral Investment Treaty.
Mondaq | 25-Mar-2020
Because of changing attitudes with regard to "expansive" investor protections contained in current treaties, investors need to think ahead and negotiate for the necessary protections to be included in investment contracts.

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