Back To Schedule
Wednesday, December 1 • 9:00am - 10:15am
Human rights- compatible International Investment Agreements: From theory to practice

Log in to save this to your schedule, view media, leave feedback and see who's attending!

Feedback form is now closed.


Interpretation available in English, French and Spanish

Brief description of the session:
In its 2021 report to the UN General Assembly (A/76/238), the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights highlights that the current international investment regime reflects three “I”s: imbalance, inconsistency, and irresponsibility. The report, which unpacks Principles 9 of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), urges States to ensure that all existing and future investment agreements are compatible with their international human rights obligations. Building on recommendations made by the UNCTAD , the South Centre and other organisations, the Working Group outlines five complementary pathways for States to harness the potential of international investment agreements (IIAs) in encouraging responsible business conduct on the part of investors and holding them accountable for abusing internationally recognised human rights. This session will focus on discussing strategies to achieve a faster and systemic reform of IIAs and the wider investment policy frameworks.

Key objectives of the session:
The session aims to:
  • Highlight the recommendations made by the UN Working Group in its 2021 report;
  • Examine how the reform of IIAs could promote business respect for human rights and strengthen access to remedy for communities affected by investment-related projects;
  • Explore the role of IIAs in promoting responsible investment, supporting an inclusive and sustainable economy, and mitigating climate change; and
  • Discuss the role of various international or regional organisations in supporting States to make structural and systemic reform of the existing international investment regime. 

Key discussion questions:
  • What are the main barriers or challenges in reforming the international investment regime, including the investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism?
  • Does the COVID-19 pandemic present an opportunity or bring an additional challenge?
  • What role could IIAs play in facilitating transition to net zero economies and overcoming existing socio-economic inequalities?
  • How is the role of communities affected by investment-related projects in the reform of IIAs, including harnessing their potential to hold investors accountable?
  • What role could organisations such as UNCTAD, South Centre and OECD play to ensure that reform of IIAs is not superficial or symbolic?

Background documents:

avatar for Tara Van Ho

Tara Van Ho

Senior Lecturer, University of Essex

avatar for Lucía Bárcena

Lucía Bárcena

Project Officer, Transnational Institute
Lucía Bárcena is a researcher at the Transnational Institute (TNI). She is specialized in the trade and investment agenda of the European Union and the international investment regime. At TNI she coordinates trade and investment projects, doing research and analysis, campaigning... Read More →
avatar for Jane S Nalunga

Jane S Nalunga

Executive Director, Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) Uganda
Jane Seruwagi Nalunga is an expert on trade, tax and investment related issues. She has more than twenty years of experience in policy research, analysis and advocacy and has authored a number of policy oriented studies and articles. Jane sits on a number of national policy making... Read More →
avatar for Carlos Correa

Carlos Correa

Executive Director, South Centre
Dr. Carlos Correa of Argentina began his term as the Executive Director in July 2018. Formerly, he was the Special Advisor on Trade and Intellectual Property of the South Centre. Dr. Correa is a renowned international authority on intellectual property and technology issues. He has... Read More →
avatar for Hamed El-Kady

Hamed El-Kady

Investment Policy Officer, Senior coordinator, International Investment Agreements Section, UNCTAD
Hamed El-Kady is leading UNCTAD's work on International Investment Agreements (IIAs). He is part of the core team drafting the World Investment Report, and authored a number of UNCTAD’s series on International Investment Policies for Development. He provides technical assistance... Read More →
avatar for Surya Deva

Surya Deva

member, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights
Mr. Surya Deva is a Professor at the Macquarie Law School, University of Macquarie, Sydney. He researches in the areas of business and human rights, India-China constitutional law, international human rights law, and sustainable development. Deva has published extensively in these... Read More →

Wednesday December 1, 2021 9:00am - 10:15am CET
Virtual Plenary room