Human rights protections in India’s Model BIT: a BIT left to go
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The growing interactions between international investment agreements and international human rights law are well studied. On the one hand, it is argued that there are several conceptual overlaps between human rights treaties and investment agreements. On the other hand, several authors point to tensions between these two bodies of law because of the limited space given to human rights, and other public interest concerns in investment agreements and investor-state arbitrations. This paper analyzes a specific interaction between international human rights law and international investment agreements in the Indian context: the balance that India’s 2015 Model BIT strikes between investor protections on the one hand, and India’s binding human rights commitments on the other. This paper outlines four sites of potential tension and how these tensions operate in practice – (i) scope for regulatory measures; (ii) investor obligations; (iii) dispute settlement procedures; and (iv) interpretative tools – and assesses the balance the 2015 Model BIT draws regarding each of these grounds. In each of these discussions, this paper references relevant literature and arbitral claims that have debated similar tensions.