Bridging the Gap
Frankfurt Investment and Economic Law series
Edited by Stephan W. Schill, Christian J. Tams and Rainer Hofmann
Chapter 14: Mainstreaming sustainable development into international investment agreements: What role for labor provisions?
The relationship between international investment law and labor rights has been subject to much less scrutiny than its trade-labor counterpart, or the relationship between investment and other areas of international regulation. The existence of this relationship is nonetheless a fact, as references to labor rights are increasingly added to international investment agreements (IIAs) – be it bilateral investment treaties (BITs), be it investment chapters that are now increasingly often added to free trade agreements (FTAs) or economic partnership agreements (EPAs). Indeed, the inclusion of such provisions is now considered instrumental to enhancing the sustainable development dimension of international investment policies, and to strengthen the development dimension of investment treaties in particular. In an attempt to contribute to a better understanding of the investment-labor linkage, the present chapter explores the different forms in which these provisions appear in IIAs, and provides an analytical framework to evaluate their intended purpose and potential effects. It does so in the following order. After discussing the role of international labor standards, as well as the role of foreign direct investment in fostering sustainable development (Part II), the chapter presents a detailed analysis of the different types of labor clauses that are presently found in IIAs (Part III). By way of conclusion, it then evaluates the evolution in treaty language in relation to labor provisions and the prospects of such language for mainstreaming sustainable development into IIAs (Part IV).
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