Atanasova - "Non-economic disciplines still take the back seat: The tale of conflict clauses in investment treaties"

Dafina Atanasova, "Non-economic disciplines still take the back seat: The tale of conflict clauses in investment treaties", Leiden Journal of International Law, Volume 34(1), 155-180.The article is part of the Symposium on International Investment Law and Human Rights
CIDS Publication Atanasova
The article offers a new perspective on the interaction of international investment law with other fields of international law based on an empirical study of the use of conflict clauses in over 1,000 investment treaties, providing a first systematic account of this type of provision.
The use and content of conflict clauses serve as an indicator of state priorities regarding the coordination of investment standards of protection with other disciplines in the international law matrix. Both numerically and from qualitative perspectives, the clauses’ survey reveals important asymmetries in the engagement on the part of investment treaty makers with international economic disciplines, as compared to non-economic disciplines and human rights more specifically. Indeed, conflict clauses on international economic law are much more common, more detailed and establish clearer priority rules than similar provisions on any other field of international law; and the disparity is only likely to deepen over time. This analysis suggests that negotiators already have the toolkit to create effective links between international norms and institutions, and it is only its use that is uneven.
As a result, the article suggests a shift in policy perspective to reflect that reality. Such a shift seems all the more relevant considering the growing body of literature showing that investment arbitrators (and international adjudicators more generally) pay only limited attention to norms from fields beyond their own, thus casting doubt on their capacity to develop a principled approach on the issue without treaty guidance.