UNCITRAL

UNCITRAL Working Group III: Promoting alternatives to investor–state arbitration as ISDS reform

From October 14 to 18, 2019, negotiators will gather in Vienna for the next session of the UNCITRAL Working Group III on ISDS reform, where they will move from considering concerns with the current system to assessing possible solutions. In this ITN Insight, Jane Kelsey discusses various examples of how some countries have tested out alternatives to ISDS, such as state–state arbitration, alternative dispute resolution, domestic legislation and enforcement, and the exhaustion of domestic remedies. For each ISDS alternative, she examines what benefits and challenges arose, and how the lessons learned can help inform the next phase of UNCITRAL deliberations.

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ICSID Rule Amendment: An attempt to remedy some of the concerns regarding ISDS identified by UNCITRAL WG III

The process for updating ICSID’s rules has been taking place in parallel to the UNCITRAL Working Group III deliberations on ISDS reform, prompting an important conversation of how these efforts may complement each other. In this new Insight, Rafael Ramos Codeço and Henrique Martins Sachetim examine the ICSID rule amendment process, taking a close look at a few key amendments under consideration and examining the extent to which these might help address some of the ISDS-related concerns that have been identified at UNCITRAL.

Toward a Code of Conduct for Investment Adjudicators: Can ethical standards salvage ISDS?

The idea of entrusting party-appointed arbitrators with powers to decide investor–state disputes through final and binding awards, inherited from commercial arbitration and traditionally accepted as appropriate, now causes discomfort among critics.

News  |  September 19, 2019

UNCITRAL secretariat publishes documents to be considered at October 2019 session of Working Group III on ISDS reform

Delegates to the UNCITRAL Working Group III process on multilateral ISDS reform will meet again in Vienna during the week of October 14–18, 2019.

News  |  September 19, 2019

Energy Charter Treaty: EU Council endorses negotiating directives for Brussels

The European Council has approved negotiating directives for the EU’s participation in talks to modernize the ECT, confirming its decision during a meeting on July 2, 2019.

Awards  |  September 19, 2019

Clorox’s claims against Venezuela are dismissed on jurisdiction for lack of “action of investing”

Clorox Spain S.L. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, PCA Case No. 2015-30

Third-Party Funding and the Objectives of Investment Treaties: Friends or foes?

This piece examines recent trends in the use of third-party funding (TPF) in treaty-based ISDS and the implications of TPF for investor conduct, developments in investment law and host state conduct. TPF has been raised in two multilateral processes currently underway: the talks to amend ICSID arbitration rules and to consider multilateral reform of ISDS at UNCITRAL. Given the narrow nature of the TPF discussions in ICSID, the authors make the case for policy-makers to consider full or partial bans of TPF at UNCITRAL.

Spain’s Renewable Energy Saga: Lessons for international investment law and sustainable development

Spain has faced approximately 40 arbitrations since it made the decision in 2010 to rescind or revise various regulatory measures aimed at drawing in greater investments into renewable energy projects. This article examines the awards issued in four of those cases, looking in particular at how the tribunals interpreted and applied the FET standard. The author looks at the potential problems that can emerge when states are unsure of how any given tribunal may interpret FET or other key standards and presents some potential solutions.

News  |  June 27, 2019

UNCITRAL Working Group III: July 15 deadline for submissions on proposed reform solutions

Delegates involved in the UNCITRAL Working Group III process on multilateral ISDS reform have until July 15, 2019 to submit to the UNCITRAL Secretariat their reform proposals and the timing for when such items may be considered in an overarching project schedule. That schedule would help guide the working group under Phase 3 of its mandate, which is devoted to crafting solutions to ISDS-related concerns.

India found in breach of BIT with Germany by UNCITRAL tribunal in respect of agreement for lease of electromagnetic spectrum

DEUTSCHE TELEKOM AG V. THE REPUBLIC OF INDIA, PCA CASE NO. 2014-10

ICSID tribunal constituted by virtue of an MFN clause holds Turkmenistan liable for FET breach for requiring investors to produce “smeta,” a cost estimate required by Turkmen law

GARANTI KOZA LLP V. TURKMENISTAN, ICSID CASE NO. ARB/11/20

Phase 2 of the UNCITRAL ISDS Review: Why “other matters” really matter

The April 2019 deliberations on multilateral ISDS reform at UNCITRAL Working Group III were due to tackle a series of questions that emerged in Phase 2 of the process. This piece breaks down why the scope of these discussions should be expanded to include important concerns raised by developing countries, and describes three core issues that must not be ignored. These involve the right to participation by affected parties; the rule of law and domestic courts’ jurisdiction; and the chilling of sovereign states’ authority and responsibility to govern.

News  |  April 23, 2019

European Economic and Social Committee recommends improvements, clarifications for MIC discussions

The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) has weighed in on the European Commission’s recommendation for a European Council decision to launch negotiations on the proposed MIC, supporting discussions on ISDS reform while noting areas for improvement.

News  |  April 23, 2019

UNCITRAL Working Group III holds New York session

Delegates had a new round of deliberations for multilateral reform of ISDS at UNCITRAL from April 1 to 5. The meeting of Working Group III, which is tasked with this process, was held in New York.

Tribunal finds expropriation of investment by Bolivia due to non-payment of compensation but awards only sunk costs to British investor

SOUTH AMERICAN SILVER LIMITED (BERMUDA) V. THE PLURINATIONAL STATE OF BOLIVIA, PCA CASE NO. 2013-15

Phase 2 of the UNCITRAL ISDS Review: Why “other matters” really matter

UNCITRAL conferred a broad mandate on Working Group III to consider possible reform of ISDS. In Phase 1 governments identified and considered concerns about ISDS. Phase 2, where they consider whether reform is desirable in light of those concerns, is well advanced. The next meeting in New York in April 2019 is expected to conclude this phase and decide how to pursue the final phase, in which governments will develop any relevant solutions to recommend to the Commission. This note addresses three issues at the heart of the legitimacy crisis confronting the international investment regime that should inform the remainder of Phase 2.

Multilateral ISDS Reform Is Desirable: What happened at the UNCITRAL meeting in Vienna and how to prepare for April 2019 in New York

UNCITRAL Working Group III has decided that multilateral reform is desirable to address various concerns regarding ISDS. Its next session will identify other concerns that may have been missed and prepare a work plan to develop solutions. This article reviews the UNCITRAL process so far and helps governments prepare for the upcoming session.

News  |  December 21, 2018

UNCITRAL Working Group III decides that multilateral reform of ISDS desirable; governments to submit proposals to develop work plan for reform

UNCITRAL Working Group III continued discussions on possible reform of investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) at its 36th session, held October 28–November 2, 2018 in Vienna.

News  |  October 17, 2018

UNCITRAL Working Group III to continue debate on possible multilateral reform of ISDS

UNCITRAL Working Group III is scheduled to continue discussions on possible reform of ISDS at its 36th session, to be held October 29–November 2, 2018 in Vienna.

Transparency in International Investment Arbitration: A guide to the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Treaty-Based Investor–State Arbitration

This book explains the underlying debate and provides an in-depth commentary on the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Treaty-Based Investor–State Arbitration, paragraph by paragraph.

The 2018 Draft Dutch Model BIT: A critical assessment

In May 2018, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs published its new draft model bilateral investment treaty (BIT), in hopes to foster rethinking of existing and future Dutch BITs. Will this revised model achieve this goal, or does it fall short of the promised policy reset?

News  |  July 30, 2018

UNCITRAL Working Group III continues debate on ISDS concerns and multilateral reform

Working Group III of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) continued discussions on possible reform of investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) at its 35th session, held April 23–27, 2018 in New York.

Withdrawal of Consent to Investor–State Arbitration and Termination of Investment Treaties

It will take time for dialogues on ISDS reform to produce results. In the interim, rather than continue to assume the unjustified risks associated with the flawed ISDS system, states could consider two near-term options. This piece looks at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

News  |  April 24, 2018

UNCITRAL Working Group III meets in New York to continue ISDS reform discussions

The 35th session of Working Group III of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) takes place April 23–27, 2018

News  |  April 24, 2018

Council of the European Union adopts negotiating directives: EU Commission to negotiate a convention establishing a multilateral investment court

On March 20, 2018, the Council of the European Union adopted negotiating directives authorizing the European Commission to negotiate a convention establishing a multilateral court for the settlement of investment disputes.

News  |  December 21, 2017

UNCITRAL Working Group III holds first meeting on possible reform of ISDS

During the week of November 27–December 1, 2017, Working Group III of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) held its first meeting on possible reform of investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS).

Awards  |  December 21, 2017

Claims brought by a company controlled by an Egyptian billionaire against Algeria are held inadmissible

Orascom TMT Investments S.à r.l. v. People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, ICSID Case No. ARB/12/35

Awards  |  December 21, 2017

UNCITRAL tribunal dismisses allegations of Hungarian investor’s bribery and refuses to set aside contract with Croatia

The Republic of Croatia v. MOL Hungarian Oil and Gas Plc, PCA Case No 2014-15

The 2016 Morocco–Nigeria BIT: An Important Contribution to the Reform of Investment Treaties

Two African developing countries respond to criticisms against the investment regime. The innovative treaty offers protection to foreign investors without compromising on the host state’s capacity to regulate in the public interest.

News  |  September 26, 2017

UNCITRAL receives mandate to work on ISDS reform; Transparency Convention to enter into force on October 18, 2017

On July 14, 2017, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) entrusted its Working Group III with a broad mandate to work on the possible reform of investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS).

Intra-EU Investment Protection: Up the Creek Without a Paddle

In theory, the common European market works based on principles that protect intra-EU cross-border investments. In practice, can these principles be reconciled with dozens of intra-EU BIT still in place?

The Recent Argentina–Qatar BIT and the Challenges of Investment Negotiations

Argentina has come back to the BIT negotiation arena after a 15-year halt, concluding a treaty with Qatar and engaging in ongoing negotiations with Japan. The new treaty includes traditional along with innovative provisions.

Highly anticipated NAFTA award rejects patent law–related claim against Canada

Eli Lilly and Company v. The Government of Canada, UNCITRAL, ICSID Case No. UNCT/14/2

ITN  |  March 13, 2017

Awards and Decisions

ICSID tribunal dismisses claims brought against Indonesia based on forged mining licences Churchill Mining PLC and Planet Mining Pty Ltd v. Republic of Indonesia, ICSID Case No. ARB/12/14 and ICSID Case No. ARB/12/40 Inaê Siqueira de Oliveira [*] After rendering separate decisions on jurisdiction¾one for the case brought by British company Churchill Mining PLC under the United […]

Renco failed to comply with formal waiver requirement under U.S.–Peru Trade Promotion Agreement

Renco Group Inc. v Republic of Peru, UNCT/13/1 An arbitral tribunal under the Arbitration Rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) declared that U.S.-based investor Renco Group Inc. (Renco) failed to comply with the waiver requirement under the United States–Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (TPA). Accordingly, the tribunal declined to exercise jurisdiction […]

NAFTA tribunal orders Canada to pay U.S. wind power developer more than CAD28 million

Windstream Energy LLC v. Government of Canada, PCA Case No. 2013-22  An arbitral tribunal under Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has reached the award stage. Although dismissing the discrimination and indirect expropriation claims, the tribunal upheld the claim of failure to provide fair and equitable treatment (FET), and ordered Canada […]

News  |  May 16, 2016

Singapore International Arbitration Centre releases investment arbitration rules

On February 1, 2016, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) released draft rules tailored to investment arbitration (Draft SIAC Rules), to be finalized in May following public consultation.

Transparency in International Investment Arbitration: A guide to the UNCITRAL Rules on Transparency in Treaty-Based Investor–State Arbitration

This in-depth commentary analyses each paragraph of the UNCITRAL Transparency Rules, and explains the underlying debate for a broader context.

Tribunal found Mongolia liable for unlawful expropriation and awarded more than US$80 million in damages

Khan Resources Inc., Khan Resources B.V. and CAUC Holding Company Ltd. v. The Government of Mongolia and MonAtom LLC, PCA Case No. 2011-09

UNCITRAL tribunal finds Canada’s environmental assessment breached international minimum standard of treatment and national treatment standard

William Ralph Clayton, William Richard Clayton, Douglas Clayton, Daniel Clayton and Bilcon of Delaware Inc. v. Government of Canada, UNCITRAL

New UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules on Transparency: Application, Content and Next Steps

In July 2013, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) adopted a package of rules aiming to ensure transparency in investor-State arbitration, ratifying the work done by delegations to UNCITRAL—comprised of 55 Member States, additional observer States and observer organizations—over the course of nearly three years of negotiations. With the adoption of the new rules, there is now a carefully negotiated and widely approved template that can serve as a model for how to conduct investor-State arbitrations transparently.

Inching Towards Consensus: An Update on the UNCITRAL Transparency Negotiations

From October 1-5, 2012, a working group of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law met in Vienna to continue work on how to ensure transparency in treaty-based investor-state arbitration. It was the working group’s fifth week-long meeting on the topic, but will not be the last.

ITN  |  April 13, 2012

Awards and Decisions

US court vacates award against Argentina BG Group Plc v. Argentina Lise Johnson A US appellate court has vacated an award against Argentina in a decision that may give investors pause before attempting to bypass treaty provisions requiring that they first pursue their claims in the host state’s courts. The long course of the dispute […]

ITN  |  April 13, 2012

Negotiations on UNCITRAL Transparency Provisions Reach Critical Juncture

Negotiations over transparency in investor-state arbitrations have reached a critical juncture heading into an October 2012 meeting in Vienna. During the last meeting in February 2012, a large number of countries, developed and developing, strongly supported options to ensure transparency in investor-state disputes that are settled under the arbitration rules of the United Nations Commission […]

Venezuela’s Withdrawal From ICSID: What it Does and Does Not Achieve

In January 2012, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela denounced the ICSID Convention,[1] becoming the third country – after Bolivia and Ecuador – to do so. The exit from the global forum for the settlement of investment disputes signals these countries’ apparent loss of faith in the system and raises questions about the Convention’s fitness for […]

ITN  |  January 12, 2012

Awards and Decisions

Arbitrator sharply critical of majority decision in Italian bondholder claim against Argentina Abaclat and Others (Case formerly known as Giovanna a Beccara and Others) v. Argentine Republic, ICSID Case No. ARB/07/5 Damon Vis-Dunbar Professor Georges Abi-Saab has delivered a sharply worded dissent against a decision that granted jurisdiction to an ICSID case involving tens of […]

ITN  |  January 12, 2012

News in Brief

Philip Morris files for arbitration over intellectual property dispute with Australia The tobacco company Philip Morris filed for arbitration on 21 November 2011, claiming the government of Australia’s regulations on cigarette branding breach the Hong Kong-Australia bilateral investment treaty. The announcement arrived on the same day that the Australian Parliament passed legislation that bans most […]

ITN  |  April 7, 2011

News in Brief

Working group moves slowly on agreement for transparency in UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules A working group of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) met from 7-11 February 2011 in New York to discuss public access to information about disputes between investors and states under the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. The meeting marked the second […]

ITN  |  December 16, 2010

News in Brief

European Union institutions consider the EU’s future international investment policy Debate on the future of the European Union’s international investment policy is heating up as EU institutions weigh in with their recommendations. With the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty on 1 December 2009, the EU received exclusive competence over foreign direct investment, which […]

The transparency requirement in the new UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules: A premonitory view

Ignacio Torterola  In October, State delegations are expected to discuss the issue of transparency in the UNCITRAL Rules of Arbitration.  Ignacio Torterola, ICSID Liaison at the Argentine Embassy in Washington, DC, and Argentine Delegate to the UNCITRAL Working Group II, explains why greater openness would benefit the investment arbitration system.  Some preliminary considerations Working Group […]