Is It Time to Redesign or Terminate Investor-State Arbitration?

Document Type


Publication Date


Source Publication

Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI)


Innovation and trade; Intellectual property


Key Points:

  • Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) is among the most controversial elements of trade and investment agreements. It provides foreign investors with exceptionally powerful protections from laws, policies and other decisions of countries.
  • The European Union has proposed to replace ISDS with a multilateral investment court. The proposal should be evaluated by reference to criteria of judicial independence, procedural fairness, balance in the allocation of foreign investor rights and responsibilities, and respect for domestic institutions.
  • If the proposed court does not satisfy these criteria, it is preferable to withdraw the special protections for foreign investors in trade and investment agreements. These protections are Exhibit A for how rules of the global economy have been rewritten to favour large corporations and the super-rich at the expense of the general public.