States are increasingly critical of the current regime of protection of foreign investment. They often believe that investment treaties require undue limitations of their regulatory powers and undermine their effort to develop sustainably. The article first explores the relationship between foreign investment and sustainable development. It then examines recent treaty practice and assesses how States can take full advantage of investment treaties as vehicles for economic development without compromising on the protection of the environment, labour standard and human rights. It also provides a tentative taxonomy of the different treaty clauses and techniques that may contribute to create a stable and predictable legal framework for foreign investment that is also respectful of the various private and public interests involved.
The expression “international community” is ubiquitous in international legal instruments, government policies, jurisprudence and scholarship. Yet, its meaning, significance and repercussions in international law are still unclear. The departing point of the analysis is the horizontal or decentralized character of the international legal order, which lacks any authorities above States and has traditionally been the kingdom of bilateralism. In the second part of the XX Century, however, States moved beyond bilateralism and accepted the existence of obligations owned to the international community as a whole. The paper looks at such historical development from three different perspectives: (a) the definition(s) of “international community” in State practice and its possible identification with the United Nations; (b) the legal implications of the emergence in international jurisprudence and practice of obligations owned to the international community as a whole, as celebrated in the Barcelona Traction Case (1970); and (c) the rules governing international responsibility for breaches of those obligations, which were not completely defined in the International Law Commission’s Articles on State Responsibility (2001).
A large number of BITs concluded by France contain quite a peculiar clause (for instance Article 10 BIT with Argentina), which has been recently the object of questionable interpretations and applications in EDF International S.A. et al. v. Argentina and Mr. Franck Charles Arif v. Moldova. Both tribunals allowed the claimants to benefit, through the MNF clause, from umbrella clauses contained in BITs with third States. It is argued that neither tribunal has rigorously interpreted the relevant provisions in the basic treaty, nor ensured compliance with the ejusdem generis principle. The legal uncertainty that surrounds these provisions is detrimental for foreign investors and States alike. Concerned States should consider taking the measures necessary to clarify, jointly or individually, the content of these provisions and of the obligations stemming from them.