International Investment Agreements, Human Rights and Sustained Development

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International Investment Agreements,
Human Rights and Sustained Development

Introduction

When first treaties relevant to cross-border investments come into international economic law, after negotiations on Multilateral Agreement on Investment, NAFTA's Chapter 11, EU's Lisbon Treaty and many others international investment agreements, economists, society groups, governments had started to look for connections between IIAs and their impact on development and civil societies.

Management and access to natural resources like water, land is very important nowadays for ensuring food security, poverty reduction and sustainable development. However, these natural resources are very often the object of fights between corporations, countries, and humans. National governments and international institutions are responsible for creating the environment in which these different interests operate. Together they create national and international regulations that enable foreign and domestic corporations to invest in land, water and other natural resources in their home countries and abroad.

A large number of investment agreements include provisions requiring countries to liberalize their law on foreign investment so that foreign investors have similar rights to invest as domestic investors. In many cases, this is associated with privatization programs in public services, such as water, energy, health or sanitation. The rights of transnational firms, their ability to act and expand globally have increased very much over the past generation as a result of trade agreements, bilateral investment treaties and domestic liberalization. What is more a large number of litigations connected with foreign investments nowadays is settled by private arbitration and not by national courts. This may give the unlimited power for international corporations which are almost above the law. How international investment agreements impact on human rights and sustainable development? This paper seeks to respond to this need and encourages to own research by providing a short review of these linkages on examples from life, focusing on the existing international investment agreements, and their relationship to and human rights and sustained development issues.

International Investment Agreements – basic definitions

International investment agreements (IIAs) are treaties between states. Three basic forms of them are distinguished : bilateral investment treaties - signed by two countries, preferential trade and investment agreements - broader economic agreements among countries, and international taxation agreements - eliminating of double taxation.

Bilateral investment treaties are agreements between two countries for the reciprocal encouragement, promotion and protection of investments in each other's territories by companies based in either country. They deal primarily with the admission, treatment and protection of foreign investment. They usually cover investments by enterprises or individuals of one country in the territory of its treaty partner.

Preferential Trade and Investment Agreements are treaties among countries on cooperation in economic and trade areas. Usually they cover a broader set of issues and are concluded at bilateral or regional levels. In order to classify as International Investment Agreements, Preferential Trade Agreements must include, among other content, specific provisions on foreign investment.

International taxation agreements deal primarily with the issue of double taxation in international financial activities (e.g., regulating taxes on income, assets or financial transactions). They are commonly concluded bilaterally, though some agreements also involve a larger number of countries.

Importance of regulatory framework

Especially in developing countries, domestic law is not very suitable to guarantee the sustainable development and management of natural resources or providing sensitive groups...
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