Group Director, Economic Law & Policy
Nathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder, LL.M, is a senior international lawyer and heads the Economic Law & Policy programme of the International Institute on Sustainable Development (IISD).
In this role, she works with developing country governments across Africa, Asia and Latin America in relation to bilateral and regional investment treaty negotiations, investor-state contracts (with a particular focus on mining and agriculture), model investment treaties and foreign investment laws.
Nathalie has extensive legal, policy, and training experience in the area of international trade, investment, sustainable development, human rights, international environmental law and arbitration.
She previously worked as an attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law in Washington and Geneva, where she also managed the office. Earlier, she was a fellow at the International Institute of International Economic Law at Georgetown University Law Center and worked in Hanoi, Vietnam, for a legal reform project of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and for the Australian law firm Phillips Fox. In Switzerland Nathalie is admitted to the Bar of Basel and has worked for the Justice Department, Berne, in the Section for International Law.
She is based in Geneva and is fluent in English, German, and French.
- Investor–State Dispute Settlement Reform Talks Resume at UNCITRALThe 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.
- USMCA Curbs How Much Investors Can Sue Countries—Sort ofThe North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) put the famous investor–state dispute settlement mechanism on the map. Now its rebirth as the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) is taking it off again—at least between the United States and Canada.
- How the Energy Charter Treaty Could Have Costly Consequences for Governments and Climate ActionNathalie Bernasconi-Osterwalder explores the current status of the Energy Charter Treaty, and why now, more than ever, it deserves far more public attention and scrutiny.
- When Climate Leaders Protect Dirty InvestmentsIn 2016, global spending on oil and gas projects was more than double the total spent on renewables. That imbalance can be addressed only by restructuring the mechanisms, particularly existing trade treaties, that govern how energy investments are made and managed.
- Zambian Villagers Win the Right to Sue a Mining Company in the United Kingdom In an interesting development, the United Kingdom Court of Appeal recently upheld the decision of a lower court that British courts have jurisdiction to hear a case in which a United Kingdom-based mining company’s activities caused harm abroad (in Zambia). We explore.
- Farmland Investments Are Finding their Way to International ArbitrationA claim registered by a Swedish investor against the Tanzanian government for revoking a land title amid concerns over the impact on local communities and a wildlife sanctuary is the first known investor-state dispute against a government linked to the so-called “land grab” phenomenon, which arose out of the 2008 food crisis.
- A Sliver of Light in a Controversial Nuclear Power ArbitrationA phase-out of nuclear power has triggered a controversial legal dispute with Vattenfall, a Swedish state-owned energy company, which operated and owned two nuclear reactors. The legal proceedings have so far been highly secrete, but that is changing with a decision to open up the hearings to the public.
- TransCanada Corporation’s Arbitration Against the U.S. is Worrying for Democracy Each year companies lodge dozens of legal cases against governments under a little-known mechanism called investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). Few make headlines.
- How the Investment Chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Falls ShortAfter years of negotiations behind closed doors, the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP),...
- Brazil's Innovative Approach to International Investment LawOne of the more contentious aspects of international economic law are so-called bilateral...