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Investment treaties and sustainable development: investment protection

Lorenzo Cotula

Briefing, 4 pages

Over 3,000 international investment treaties (IITs) are in force, and more are being negotiated. The signing and wording of these treaties drives important trade-offs between policy goals. Seemingly straightforward treaty provisions intended to reassure foreign investors that they will not be treated unfairly can have far-reaching implications for states’ ability to pursue other policy goals. As these trade-offs become clearer, some states are reconsidering their approach to IITs, and there is growing experience with ways to balance protecting investment with preserving policy space. All countries considering negotiating investment treaties need to ensure proper reflection and public debate on such policy choices.

This briefing is the third in a series of four promoting debate on IITs and sustainable development and has been produced under IIED’s Legal tools for citizen empowerment project.

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