As this blog's readers are well aware, I've taken an interest in international investment law in the past few years, and am skeptical of the existing system. My Cato colleague Dan Ikenson has doubts as well. But beyond our specific criticisms, we would really like to see some good discussion of the issues involved, and to that end we have put together what we think is a balanced conference on the issue at Cato, to be held on May 20. From the program, I think it is clear that we have not stacked the decks, and have tried to get people from different sides and perspectives:
Panel I: Does ISDS Strengthen or Weaken the Rule of Law?
Panelists will discuss various historical and political aspects of ISDS, debate pertinent questions of international law, discuss the pros and cons of requiring ISDS provisions in bilateral investment treaties and trade agreements, and address other prominent ISDS-related legal and political concerns.
Trade Policy Analyst, Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute
Litigation Partner, Weil, Gotshal and Manges
Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
Counsel, Expert Consultant and Arbitrator, Investment Treaty Law and Arbitration
Moderator: Edward Alden
Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Panel II: Does ISDS Protect or Subsidize Foreign Direct Investment, and What Are its Economic Consequences?
This panel will discuss various economic and developmental aspects of ISDS, debate whether ISDS is a necessary inducement for foreign investors, examine the costs and benefits of ISDS rules to various U.S. entities, and consider whether and how ISDS provisions may be impacting the trade agenda.
Research Professor, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University
Vice President of Investment and Financial Services, United States Council for International Business
Director, Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, Cato Institute
Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
Moderator: Kim Elliot
Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development
We really hope to get a good dialogue going, and move past the usual talking points on these issues.
Investor state will be particularly topical at that time, because the next TTIP round is scheduled to take place in the DC area that same week. No doubt investment issues in the TTIP will come up at our conference, although we hope to go beyond the TTIP and talk about the investment regime more generally. As an example, in the last post, I liked this point Jurgen Kurtz made in the comments: "In the contemporary setting, states parties are now – sensibly and justifiably – asking themselves: What should we protect foreign investors from and why?" Just to push this further and give you a preview of some things I might say at the conference, let me suggest that maybe we should "protect" foreign investors from all the subsidies governments keep giving them!
You can register for the conference here: http://www.cato.org/events/investor-state-dispute-settlement-mechanism-examination-benefits-costs Hope to see you there. As usual with these things, there is a free lunch afterwards!