UNCTAD Inter-governmental body discusses reform of international investment agreements

30 September 2015

​On 16 September, more than a 100 policymakers from government, private sector and international and civil society organizations discussed UNCTAD’s "Roadmap for Reform of the International Investment Regime".

Held as part of the 62nd session of Trade and Development Board, this was UNCTAD's first inter-governmental meeting in response to the call of the outcome document of the Financing for Development (FfD) conference, held in July 2015 in Addis Ababa, to continue consultations on international investment agreements (IIAs).

Panelists from Brazil, Indonesia, South Africa and the European Union presented their approaches towards IIA reform, largely reflecting policy options formulated in UNCTAD's 2015 World Investment Report (WIR).

Following interventions by the International Chamber of Commerce, the International Institute for Sustainable Development and the World Economic Forum, the following key points arose from the debate:

  • There is a pressing need to reform today's IIA regime. UNCTAD's 2015 WIR takes stock of the challenges and offers action-oriented solutions.

  • "New generation investment policies" are emerging. UNCTAD's Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development, recently updated, is a key instrument guiding policymakers on this issue, worldwide.

  • Reform carries the risk of further fragmenting the IIA regime. Sharing of experiences and best practices, and related consultation and coordination, including at the multilateral level can help.

Today, stakeholders are closer to a common understanding of the problems in the IIA regime than ever before. However, a lot of work remains to be done and further action is needed, at the national, bilateral, regional and multilateral levels.

As indicated in the 2015 WIR, a global review of the IIA regime can identify lessons learned, systemic risks and emerging issues. Multilateral consensus building can help develop a shared vision on systemic reform.

Developing criteria and guidelines, together with supporting instruments and institutions, can bring us closer to a Multilateral Action Plan for IIA Reform.