Instructor(s) Yackee, Jason
This seminar provides an introduction to one of the most dynamic and active areas of international law today: the law and process regulating the settlement of disputes between foreign investors and the states (governments) hosting their investments. This field—“international investment law”—concerns such important issues as the right of the state to expropriate or nationalize foreign investments; the right of the investor to enjoy certain minimum standards of treatment from the host state; and the ability of the state to respond freely to financial emergencies in ways by modifying contracts with investors. The field also raises the deeper question of the extent to which strong international law protections for the “property rights” of foreign investors are necessary in order to promote economic development. International investment law disputes are decided by a special international court, based in the World Bank, called “ICSID”. ICSID’s caseload has exploded since the 1990s, and new developments in the field occur virtually every day. Major law firms are increasingly establishing investor-state dispute settlement litigation units, and the field offers perhaps the best opportunity for new lawyers to actually “practice” international law in a non-trivial way. International investment law has also proven highly controversial as a matter of public policy, as critics argue that it threatens the “policy space” (or sovereignty) of democratic states. That controversy is likely to re-emerge as the United States considers ratifying major new commercial treaties with Europe and Asia. Students who take this course will gain an in-depth understanding of this exciting body of international law and the controversy surrounding it.
The course is organized as a seminar. We meet every week, and address a number of key readings. As with other seminars, we also will complete a research & writing project. This year's project is a "moot arbitration" exercise structured around a realistic moot problem. Students will research, write, and argue a cutting-edge issue of IIL. The seminar offers students a true "experiential" opportunity practice international law. There is no final exam.