Democratic Implications Arising from the Intersection of Investment Arbitration and Human Rights


  • Barnali Choudhury



In the last two decades, investors have taken advantage of investment arbitration mechanisms in investment treaties to challenge state regulations, often implicating human rights issues. This article examines the conflict between states’ human rights obligations and their obligations under investment treaties. The first part of the article examines common obligations arising under investment treaties and the investment arbitration process created by the treaties. In the second part, the author examines the way in which investment treaties and arbitrations impact human rights concerns. In particular, the author reviews a number of human rights, including the right to water, the right to health, and rights related to culture. The author also examines common provisions of investment treaties that are particularly problematic in terms of human rights issues: expropriation and fair and equitable treatment.
The author analyzes the democratic deficit inherent in the creation of investment treaties and the structure of investment arbitration, concluding that investment treaties generally lack true democratic consent, and that investment arbitration lacks sufficient transparency and protection for minority rights to reflect true democratic principles. The article concludes with suggestions for reform to address the democratic deficit of investment arbitration through both the provisions of investment treaties and the structure and procedure of arbitration.

Author Biography

Barnali Choudhury

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec.