GoJIL Vol. 9, No. 1 (2018)
International Investment Law and the Rule of Law
International investment law appeals to a lawyer’s appetite for the rule of law by disciplining the exercise of power between States and foreign investors through legalization and judicialization. Originally supposed to serve as a fix to promote foreign investments in developing countries in times of legal uncertainties, now, thousands of bilateral investment agreements exist, and the number of cases in investment arbitration has exploded in the last decade. Further, there is a tendency of generalization, as investment protection now features as a standard element of international trade agreements, far beyond the original focus on developing countries. A number of flaws and shortcomings of the rules and procedures became apparent in the course of the more frequent use of the system and resulted in much discussion within the expert community, which resulted in some changes. Furthermore, the long neglected possibility became apparent, that investment claims could be directed against industrialized countries and that the conduct of their authorities could be subjected to review by international arbitration tribunals. This sparked heated public debates, particularly so in the EU. These two developments have in common, that they implicitly as well as explicitly raised the issue of the rule of law. This paper will assess the system of international investment law as it stands, its critique and its reform, through the lens of the rule of law. It will also make a highly idealistic proposal on the further development of international investment protection. In concluding, it will reflect on the proper use of the rule of law in legal analysis, by setting out the different perspectives in which the term may be employed, and the methodological consequences.
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