International Investment Law and History
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International Investment Law and History

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

Historiographical approaches in international investment law scholarship are becoming ever more important. This insightful book combines perspectives from a range of expert international law scholars who explore ways in which using a broad variety of methods in historical research can lead to a better understanding of international investment law.
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Chapter 10: Enriching law with political history: A case study on the creation of the ICSID Convention

Taylor St. John


To illuminate the process through which certain legal ideas become reality – that is, become treaties or laws – it is necessary to examine how these ideas fit with the political needs of a particular moment and with existing configurations of power, interests, and resources. This chapter focuses on political history, or scholarship that aims to understand the political context in which a particular treaty or law was drafted. The first half of the chapter discusses the promise and methodological challenges associated with researching the political history of legal texts. Then the chapter turns to a case study on the drafting of the ICSID Convention. The key innovations that allowed ICSID to succeed were political: the World Bank put its reputation behind the idea and framed the idea of investor-state arbitration in a way that could command wide support, and then designed a novel non-deliberative drafting procedure.

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