UNCTAD report shows broader range, greater detail in treaties,
growing attention to public policy concerns
The number of bilateral investment treaties between countries increased from slightly over 1,000 to more than 2,500 between 1995 and 2006, and recent trends show these agreements are broader in scope and contain progressively greater detail, a new UNCTAD report reveals. While the total number of such treaties, widely known as BITs, has grown over the past decade, the number of new BITs signed each year has been declining.
Among other findings, the report says more countries concluding these treaties are placing greater emphasis on public concerns such as health, environment, core labour rights, national security, transparency in information exchange and rulemaking.
"Bilateral Investment Treaties 1995-2006: Trends in Investment Rulemaking," released last week, also says a number of such treaties have addressed investor-State dispute settlement procedures in greater detail.
While BITs in general in recent years have become more complex and have covered broader sets of issues, the report finds that "a considerable degree of conformity has emerged in terms of the main contents of BITs." On the other hand, BITs have more diversity with regard to details of individual provisions.
The report also notes that there is a need for further exploration of how the development concerns of host countries can be best expressed in the future evolution of BITs.
Overall, the study provides an in-depth analysis of the recent evolution of substantive provisions found in BITs. The study uses numerous examples from BITs concluded between 1995 and 2006 to support its analysis.