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Human rights and investor obligations in investor-state arbitration

Lorenzo Cotula

Journal article

The relationship between international investment law and international human rights law raises probing questions about the structure and content of international law. Yet despite much scholarly and activist debate, human rights issues have tended to have a relatively marginal place in international investor-state arbitration. The arbitral award Hesham Talaat M Al-Warraq v The Republic of Indonesia represents a departure from this trend. The award concerns allegations of mistreatment in criminal proceedings conducted by Indonesian authorities. In interpreting the relevant investment treaty, the arbitral tribunal relied extensively – and almost exclusively – on international human rights law. The award is also notable for its discussion of investor obligations – another issue that has attracted much recent debate.

This short article discusses the award and its wider significance for both international investment law and international human rights law.

Publication information

  • External: X00150
  • Published: Jan 2016 - Brill Nijhoff
  • Area: Indonesia
  • Theme: Law
  • Source pub: The Journal of World Investment and Trade
  • Journal ref: Vol. 17, Issue 1, pp. 148-157
  • Language: English

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Lorenzo Cotula (2016). Human Rights and investor obligations in investor-state arbitration. Journal of World Investment and Trade 17 (1) 148-157. doi: 10.1163/22119000-01701007

Project information

International investment treaties are a key part of the legal architecture that underpins the global economy. IIED works with partners to realign these legal documents with sustainable development.

More at www.iied.org:
Rethinking investment treaties and dispute settlement in the light of sustainable development

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