The CAI and Sustainable Development

In: The Journal of World Investment & Trade
Dominic Npoanlari Dagbanja School of Law, University of Western Australia Perth Australia

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Sustainable investment is underpinned by principles that emphasise an investment’s contribution to sustainable development. Among the constituent elements of sustainable investment under the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) is corporate social responsibility (CSR). I appraise CSR provisions as to whether they make investment work for sustainable development. The provisions on CRS are founded on internationally recognised norms on sustainable development and responsible business practices as overarching principles and demonstrate EU-China leadership to harmonise and converge rules on investment protection and norms on sustainable development. This has long term systemic implications for both EU-China future international economic relations and for the global investment treaty regime. However, the sustainable development provisions exemplified by those on CRS create voluntary responsibilities. They are, therefore, unlikely to result in the attainment of the objective of sustainable investment. To infuse substantive content to these provisions and make them practically relevant, I propose that aspects of the norms on sustainable development and responsible business practices need to be incorporated into CAI and made legally binding and enforceable.

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