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Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

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Environmental Injustice: How Treaties Undermine Human Rights Related To The Environment, Lisa E. Sachs, Lise Johnson, Ella Merrill Jan 2020

Environmental Injustice: How Treaties Undermine Human Rights Related To The Environment, Lisa E. Sachs, Lise Johnson, Ella Merrill

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

Growing cries for action to effectively address the climate and other environmental crises hold important implications for the governance of cross-border investments. Policymakers and environmental advocates have often overlooked how provisions granted by states in international investment agreements (IIAs) have been used by investors to challenge government measures taken in the public interest to protect the environment and advance environmental justice.

This 2019 paper, published in the Sciences Po Legal Review issue devoted to the climate crisis, explains how the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism, made available to investors in thousands of bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements, may …


Securing Adequate Legal Defense In Proceedings Under International Investment Agreements: A Scoping Study, Lise Johnson, Brooke Guven Nov 2019

Securing Adequate Legal Defense In Proceedings Under International Investment Agreements: A Scoping Study, Lise Johnson, Brooke Guven

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

CCSI prepared a Scoping Study for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands. Also available are:

  • A summary version of the study (33 pages)
  • A webinar (March 24, 2020), hosted by CCSI and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, discussed the Scoping Study and its findings (see also accompanying slides with speaking notes).
  • A webinar organized by UNCITRAL (April 21, 2020). CCSI presented the Scoping Study. A video link of the webinar along with CCSI’s slides are available in English (with speaking notes) and French at that link. CCSI Senior Fellow Karl Sauvant also presented his UNCITRAL …


Primer: International Investment Treaties And Investor-State Dispute Settlement, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment May 2019

Primer: International Investment Treaties And Investor-State Dispute Settlement, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

What Are International Investment Agreements (IIAs)?
IIAs are bilateral or multilateral treaties that commit state-parties to afford specific standards of conduct to foreign investors from the other state-parties. These treaties grant foreign investors certain benefits, including recourse to Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) to resolve disputes with host states. Over 3,300 agreements have been concluded worldwide, including NAFTA and the Comprehensive and Progressive TransPacific Partnership.

What is Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)?
IIAs allow foreign investors (individuals and companies) to allege treaty violations by suing states through ad hoc arbitration. Arbitration tribunals are composed of party-appointed (and party-paid) private lawyers. Tribunals …


Investment Treaties, Investor-State Dispute Settlement And Inequality, Lisa E. Sachs, Lise Johnson Apr 2019

Investment Treaties, Investor-State Dispute Settlement And Inequality, Lisa E. Sachs, Lise Johnson

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

International investment treaties entrench and exacerbate intra-national inequality by:

  1. Providing stronger substantive legal rights to a certain class of actors that in turn strengthen the legal force of their economic rights and “expectations”, with potentially negative impacts on the competing rights and interests of other stakeholders; and
  2. Providing unequal procedural rights to a certain class of actors, easing their ability, through ISDS, to challenge regulatory measures negatively impacting their economic interests, while other individuals and entities continue to face relatively high legal and practical barriers to using litigation to protect and/or enhance public interest objectives.

This Working Paper, adapted from …


Costs And Benefits Of Investment Treaties: Practical Considerations For States, Lise Johnson, Jesse Coleman, Brooke Guven, Lisa E. Sachs Mar 2018

Costs And Benefits Of Investment Treaties: Practical Considerations For States, Lise Johnson, Jesse Coleman, Brooke Guven, Lisa E. Sachs

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

This paper analyzes the expected benefits of investment treaties, including: increased inward investment, increased outward investment, and depoliticization of investment disputes. It then considers evidence of the costs of investment treaties, including: litigation, liability, reputational cost, reduced policy space, distorted power dynamics, reduced role for domestic law-making, and uncertainty in the law. The authors set forth practical steps that states can take relating to both existing treaties as well as future treaties with an objective of increasing desired benefits and decreasing unexpected and high costs of investment treaties.


Toward Win-Win Sustainable Development, Linda Moon Nov 2014

Toward Win-Win Sustainable Development, Linda Moon

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

An interview with Lisa Sachs, Director of the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment.


Meeting Summary Of Colloquium On Policy, Law, Contracts, And Sustainable Development, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment Nov 2014

Meeting Summary Of Colloquium On Policy, Law, Contracts, And Sustainable Development, Columbia Center On Sustainable Investment

Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment Staff Publications

In November 2014, CCSI and the Institute for Human Rights and Business co-convened a colloquium on policy, law, contracts, and sustainable development, with a particular focus on large-scale investments in the extractive industries and the agriculture sector. The colloquium provided an opportunity for practitioners to share information on their related work, as well as to reflect on current practices and remaining gaps regarding efforts to embed sustainability and human rights into large-scale deals. This outcome document provides a summary of the discussion, while its annex includes information on participants’ relevant programs, initiatives, and tools.