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Commentary: States should employ international investment agreements to protect the rights of affected individuals and communities

"Managing States' "Fatal Attraction" to International Investment Agreements", 13 August 2018

In an era of investment-driven development, almost all states are constantly looking to create an environment conducive to attracting foreign investment...Investment is critical to development...However, it appears that attracting investment often becomes an end in itself, with states paying little or no attention to "investment for what" and "investment for whom" aspects...A three-prong approach is needed to ensure that IIAs do not result in asymmetrical empowerment of investors or inequitable and unsustainable economic development. In the pre-negotiation stage, states should first develop...an investment policy which identifies the "for what" and "for whom" aspects of foreign investment as well as development priorities...The second prong should be about managing the content of IIAs in a way that both investment and investors contribute to the realisation of all human rights of everyone...The third prong should pay attention to fixing the existing state-investor dispute settlement (ISDS) process, which has received lot of criticism for investors holding states to ransom and ignoring legitimate concerns of communities affected by investment projects...In short, states should adopt a more holistic approach towards IIAs: instead of treating these as merely an investment vehicle, IIAs should be employed to realise the human development potential of investment, especially for those who need it the most.