Webinar on international investment agreements (IIAs) and public health

28 février 2022
10:30 - 12:45 hrs. (CET)

The ongoing pandemic has created enormous challenges for national health systems and policies. It has tested the resilience of global value chains for medical goods, revealed the weaknesses and fragility of many national health systems, and highlighted the urgent need to invest more in health. At the international level, IIAs can help by promoting, facilitating and protecting investment in health, but they may also come into play in relation to policy responses taken by governments to address the economic impact of the pandemic. Some of these policy measures could potentially create friction with IIA obligations and could result in investment disputes. This highlights the need to safeguard sufficient regulatory space in IIAs to protect public health and to minimize the risk of ISDS proceedings.

To ensure better synergies between IIAs and public health policies, future agreements could include provisions that proactively encourage and facilitate health-related FDI, while maintaining or strengthening existing safeguards that protect the host States’ right to regulate to pursue public health objectives. This webinar, co-organized by UNCTAD and D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation, will discuss the state of play of IIAs and public health and will point towards ways forward in reforming IIAs to better respond to the challenges facing States in implementing their public health policies.

Provisional Programme

Welcoming remarks (15 minutes)

  • Isiaki Imam, Secretary General of the Developing 8 Organization for Economic Cooperation (D-8)
  • Joerg Weber, Head, Investment Policies Branch, UNCTAD

Session 1: International investment agreements and public health: key issues and recommendations (1 hour)

  • Hamed El-Kady, Coordinator, International Investment Agreements Section, UNCTAD, ‘IIA reform in D8 countries and public health’
  • Rasha Hamdy, Director of Economy and External Relations, D-8, ‘Public Health as a challenge for Investment policy in D-8 countries’
  • Dafina Atanasova, Lecturer, Geneva Center for International Dispute Settlement, ‘IIAs, TRIPs and COVID-19: key issues for developing countries’
  • Josef Ostřanský, Consultant, International Investment Agreements Section, Division on Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD, ‘Investor-State disputes and public health: an overview’

Session 2: Roundtable discussion and sharing of experience among D-8 Government representatives (30 minutes)

Closing remarks

Developing 8 Organization for Economic Co-operation (D-8)

English  |