Table of Contents

International Investment Law and Development

International Investment Law and Development

Bridging the Gap

Frankfurt Investment and Economic Law series

Edited by Stephan W. Schill, Christian J. Tams and Rainer Hofmann

Foreign investment is meant to contribute to the host country’s development, and yet international investment law has often been seen as an obstacle to (sustainable) development. So are investment and development friends or foes? Combining critical reflection and detailed analysis, this timely volume explores the relationship between the two concepts and explores options of harnessing investment for development.

Chapter 14: Mainstreaming sustainable development into international investment agreements: What role for labor provisions?

Vid Prislan and Ruben Zandvliet

Subjects: development studies, law and development, law - academic, international economic law, trade law, international investment law, law and development


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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