Nelson Mandela

I dream of an Africa which is in peace with itself.- Nelson Mandela

Conference in Vienna: Lessons learnt from existing experiences in Investor State Dispute Settlement

23 April 2014

Vienna, Austria – A conference will be held on the current state of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) in Vienna on 23 April 2014. The event is organised by the Austrian Foundation for Development Research (ÖFSE), the Austrian Chamber of Labor (Arbeiterkammer Wien) and the Department of Economics of the Vienna University, with funding from the Austrian Development Cooperation. The North South Dialogue of Parliaments, which is the supporting organisation of the Austrian AWEPA Section, is inviting the Section’s members to participate in this event.

ISDS is a form of international dispute arbitration that allows foreign investors to sue states directly under international law. The primary aim of ISDS is to protect foreign investors from abusive treatment by governments, and, from a host country perspective, to encourage foreign direct investment. The use of ISDS has increased exponentially over the last 15 years and is currently part of more than 90 % of almost 3.000 existing bilateral investment treaties and also of various free trade agreements with investor provisions. ISDS and its role in several highly publicized investor claims have sparked a debate on this topic. The European Commission has decided to consult the public on the envisaged investment provisions following the unprecedented public interest in the currently negotiated EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The main objective of the conference is to contribute to the EU-consultation and find answers, among others, to the following questions:

  • What are experiences made so far with ISDS? What lessons can be drawn from existing experiences for the (re)negotiation of trade and investment agreements such as TTIP?
  • Should trade and investment agreements differ if a developing country is a partner to the treaty? Which modifications of Investment Treaties and of ISDS are currently discussed?
  • What could be possible reform paths of international investment dispute arbitration? How does the defense of ISDS claims and the payment of compensation to foreign investors impact tax payers?

Werner Raza from the ÖFSE and Valentin Wedl from the Austrian Chamber of Labor will provide the opening speech and introduction. The event will also include a panel discussion with Mahnaz Malik, an expert in bilateral investment treaties and member of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Panel of Arbitrators, Patience Okala, Deputy Director at the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Michael Postl, head of the department on foreign economic relations, common trade policy and investment protection at the Austrian Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs and Elisabeth Türk, chief of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Section on International Investment Agreements (IIA).

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