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UNCITRAL and Reform of Investment Dispute Settlement

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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.

The secretariat presented the result of a study prepared by the Geneva Centre for International Dispute Settlement (the CIDS Report). After discussions, UNCITRAL decided to retain the issue on its agenda for further consideration at its 2017 session and to decide whether to mandate a working group to undertake related work. 

These developments are taking place as many countries and regions are reassessing the investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) regime. There is an appetite in a number of states to explore domestic, regional and multilateral alternatives to the traditional investor–state arbitration model, including a more permanent and judicialized form of dispute settlement. 

IISD supports in principle initiating a discussion on reforming the ISDS regime and building a new mechanism for resolving investment-related disputes. There is a need for an alternative to the traditional arbitration model in the form of a more structured and permanent dispute settlement process—one that is better adapted to investment disputes that involve public policy issues and a range of different stakeholders and interests. 

Our participation in the multilateral process in UNCITRAL is aimed at promoting the much-needed development of a comprehensive and inclusive investment-related dispute settlement mechanism.