Foreign Investment, Human Rights and the Environment

A Perspective from South Asia on The Role of Public International Law for Development

Events like the Bhopal disaster, the sale of products harmful to human health and safety, and child labour, especially in resource-scarce settings, raise fundamental issues of human dignity and ecological integrity. From a legal perspective, and in the context of Foreign Direct Investment by Transnational Corporations in developing countries, they highlight the lacuna of a holistic international legal framework and its implementation. This book embodies a critique of the complex web of public international law principles on economics, human rights and the environment, and their convergence or lack thereof, related regional (South Asian) and domestic (Sri Lankan) legal arrangements, interventions of states and non-state actors towards just, equitable and sustainable development. It is a quest for a middle path in the multidisciplinary landscape of international law, development and North-South power dynamics; globalization of free trade and investment and of social and environmental interests; and salient aspects of the philosophical, socio-economic and legal fabric of South Asia, viewed against the evolving, controversial and elastic sphere of international relations and law where consensus has hitherto been an elusive dream.
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Biographical Note

Shyami Puvimanasinghe in this book presents an updated and adapted version of her thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies at the Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands. A Masters graduate in Law from Harvard University, USA, and formerly a Senior Lecturer in Law at Colombo University, Sri Lanka, the author is currently a Research Associate in International Law, Human Rights, Health, Environment and Development in the non-governmental sector in Botswana.

Review Quotes

"Through in depth and balanced analyses of a broad spectrum of international public law, policy and practice including, the methods of implementation at the regional, domestic and industry level, the author has overcome a formidable challenge: How public international law can be made adequate to serve as a medium for the advancement of economic development, while simultaneously protecting and promoting human rights and conserving the environment in the context of FDI. […] Shyami has made an immense contribution to the debate on when, where, what, how or why to apply international law to address environment, human rights and investment issues."

Priscilla Schwartz in the Melbourne Journal of International Law


"Puvimanasinghe’s book is well researched, written, and argued. She champions an unconventional view, and she gives a fair rendition of the conventional view, which has been more concerned with protecting foreign investors than the citizens and environment in host countries."

Roy L. Sturgeon, International Journal of Legal Information, Volume 35 Issue 3, Winter 2007, pages 586-88.

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