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Investment Treaty Law, Sustainable Development and Responsible Business Conduct: A Fact Finding Survey


  • Kathryn Gordon


  • Joachim Pohl


  • Marie Bouchard



Investment treaty law – which is scattered over 3 000 international investment agreements adopted over a period of 50 years – is a crucial but complex basis for regulating international investment flows. Investment treaties are often thought to be silent on investors’ responsibilities to host societies and on their contributions to sustainable development. The present paper establishes a factual and statistical basis for understanding the relationship between investment treaty law and governments’ ability to advance the sustainable development agenda and promote responsible business conduct. The paper presents survey results of 2 107 investment treaties and 1 113 treaty-based arbitration cases in order to shed light on how (if at all) labour, environmental, human rights and anti-corruption considerations are referred to in investment treaties and investor-state arbitration cases based on them.

Suggested Citation

  • Kathryn Gordon & Joachim Pohl & Marie Bouchard, 2014. "Investment Treaty Law, Sustainable Development and Responsible Business Conduct: A Fact Finding Survey," OECD Working Papers on International Investment 2014/1, OECD Publishing.
  • Handle: RePEc:oec:dafaaa:2014/1-en
    DOI: 10.1787/5jz0xvgx1zlt-en

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    More about this item


    bribery; corruption; environmental law; investment treaties; investor state arbitration; ISDS; labour law;

    JEL classification:

    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • F53 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Agreements and Observance; International Organizations
    • K11 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Property Law
    • K33 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law - - - International Law

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