Diffusion of International Law: A Textual Analysis of International Investment Agreements

What are the design, evolution, and effects of the international investment agreements currently in practice?

Summary

Investment is the field of international law with the highest number of intergovernmental treaties. While some model agreements have been highlighted, there is substantial variation of obligations across treaties and over time. Today, the available databases of International Investment Agreements lack comprehensiveness, which hampers the study of the design and effects of these agreements. Existing collections of texts, while useful, only provide partial information. Moreover, they are only available in the original language negotiated by parties and exist in formats that do not lend themselves easily for textual analyses.

This project was made up of two poles. First, the team created a new database of investment treaties in one single language and format. Second, the information of this database was used to push the research frontier by applying advanced statistical methods and computational linguistics to contribute to on-going debates in international law, international relations and international economics. Some delays have been encountered in compiling the database, mainly due to the difficulty in finding missing IIAs and some technical difficulties, which, in turn, delayed the use of the database for research. Some results have been put forward in the meanwhile, which can be found on the right-hand bar of this page. One example of such results is the textual analysis of African bilateral investment treaties and the power relationships shown by those. The paper, that can be found here, shows that while African nations, in general, are rule-takers in North-South relations, South-South relations are more interesting, as small island-states like Mauritius manage to set the terms of investment agreements, while powerful states like Egypt fail to dominate negotiations.

 

Keywords

  • Norm diffusion
  • International investment agreements
  • Bilateral investment treaties
  • Global governance
  • Databases
  • International (commercial and investment) arbitration
  • Computational linguistics
  • Linguistics
  • Foreign investment
  • Treaties

Disciplines

  • Economics
  • Law
  • Linguistics
  • Political Science

Collaborations

International Organisations

  • World Bank

Relevant Countries

All countries

Status

This project, started in 2015, has been completed.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Manfred Elsig
Coordinator
University of Berne

Eddy Bekkers
Co-Coordinator
University of Berne

Rodrigo Polanco Lazo
Co-Coordinator
Universidad de Chile

Todd Allee
Principal Member
University of Maryland College Park

Wolfgang Alschner
Principal Member
Graduate Institute Geneva

Rios Annette
Principal Member
University of Zurich

Peter Egger
Principal Member
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich

Mascarell Laura
Principal Member
University of Zurich

Douglas Nelson
Principal Member
Tulane University

Magdalena Plamada
Principal Member
Universität Zürich

Dmitriy Skougarevskiy
Principal Member
Graduate Institute Geneva

Kyoko Sugisaki
Principal Member
Universität Zürich

Martin Volk
Principal Member
Universität Zürich

Roberto Echandi
Associated Member
World Bank Group

Andrew Newcombe
Associated Member
University of Victoria