W&L and United Nations Partner on International Investment Project

Lexington, VA Monday, October 19, 2009

Prof. Susan D. Franck

Understanding International Investment
Visit the podcasts page of the IADR conference website to learn about investment treaties and arbitration.
Washington and Lee School of Law has announced a new partnership with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to explore the prevention and efficient management of investment treaty disputes. 

A  Joint Symposium is being organized to foster dialogue and collaboration between international investment law and dispute resolution experts in order to provide government officials, investors, practitioners, arbitrators, scholars and other stakeholders with tools to approach issues associated with investment treaty disputes.  The effort culminates in a conference at Washington and Lee University School of Law in Lexington, Virginia on March 29, 2010.  The conference is free and open to the public.  Registration is requested. 

"This is a propitious time for us to consider the roles of globalization, international investment, and the impact of the economic downturn on legal issues germane to the role of international investment and the important place of alternative dispute resolution techniques in encouraging international investment," says Rodney Smolla, Dean of the Washington and Lee School of Law. 

By the end of 2008, over 2500 international investment treaties had been signed and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) grew to over $1.7 trillion annually.  Concurrently, the number of investment treaty disputes has quintupled and billions of dollars are at stake.  Meanwhile, high arbitration costs, divergent decisions and increased uncertainty about outcomes are creating concerns about whether investment treaty dispute resolution is properly addressing stakeholder needs. Washington and Lee and UNCTAD partnered to provide a forum to prevent investment disputes, consider appropriate methods of dispute resolution, and minimize costs and maximize the value of international investment agreements.  

UNCTAD has expressed appreciation that the partnership with Washington and Lee University will allow further in-depth exploration of various alternatives to investment treaty arbitration.  UNCTAD is the focal point within the United Nations system on all matters related to FDI and development.  Its work program on international investment agreements seeks to help developing countries participate as effectively as possible in international investment rulemaking, especially through its research and advisory work in the area of international investment law and investor-State dispute settlement. The work program's more recent research and advisory work focuses particularly on alternative methods of investor-State dispute settlement and dispute prevention policies.

The joint project's initial phase will occur through website collaboration.  The site, launched in tandem with the partnership announcement, facilitates discussion by providing overviews of relevant concepts and collecting preconference research.  The site can be accessed at http://investmentADR.wlu.edu.

W&L Law Professor Susan Franck, a leading expert in international economic dispute resolution, serves as the conference co-organizer.

 "We are at a unique historical moment in terms of deciding how to address the prevention and management of investment treaty conflict," says Franck.  "By using technology to foster international collaboration and then bringing key experts to Lexington, we hope the Joint Symposium will foster innovation and generate ideas that can ultimately lead to the development of a set of good practices."

The March 2010 Joint Symposium will bring together international investment and ADR experts from around the world. 

Professor W. Michael Reisman, the Myres S. McDougal Professor of International Law at Yale University will deliver the keynote address.  Other prominent investment and dispute resolution experts, such as Jeswald Salacuse, the Henry J. Braker Professor of Law at the Fletcher School's Tufts University and Meg Kinnear, Secretary-General of the World Bank's International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes, will be participating.  In addition, conference organizers are inviting government representatives from Asia, Latin America, Africa and Eastern Europe.

In light of the critical issues raised, major institutions such as the American Society of International Law, the American Arbitration Association, Foley Hoag LLP, Arnold & Porter, LLP and Crowell & Moring LLP have agreed to help sponsor the event. 

To register for the conference, please contact Wendy Rice at ricew@wlu.edu no later than Monday, March 22, 2010. 

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