International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics

, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 329–357

A law for need or a law for greed?: Restoring the lost law in the international law of foreign investment

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10784-006-9016-0

Cite this article as:
Sornarajah, M. Int Environ Agreements (2006) 6: 329. doi:10.1007/s10784-006-9016-0


The 1990s brought about a change in the international law of foreign investment due to the primacy achieved by the tenets of neo-liberalism. They drove concerns about the environment and poverty away from the concerns of the law and gave priority to the interests of multinational corporations by enhancing their ability for movement of assets and the absolute protection of these assets through treaty rules. The regime created by this law was operated through secure systems of dispute settlement through arbitration which also enabled the stabilization of these rules. In the process, private power of a section within the hegemonic state was able to subvert international law through the use of low order sources of the law and secure a system of investment promotion and protection. The restoration of the more universal themes of environmental protection and poverty alleviation is necessary. This paper outlines the developments that accentuated the sectional interests of multinational capital and explores the means by which a change that reflects the global interests could be effected.


InvestmentArbitrationInternational lawEnvironmentAwards



Association of South-East Asian Nations


Bilateral Investment Treaty


Free Trade Agreement


General Agreement on Trade in Services


International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes


International Institute for Sustainable Development


North American Free Trade Agreement


New International Economic Order


Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development


Trade-Related Investment Measures


United Nations Commission on International Trade Law


United Nations Conference on Trade and Development


World Trade Organization

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawNational University of SingaporeSingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Centre for Petroleum and Natural Resources LawUniversity of DundeeDundeeUK