5 October 2020: Official Release of the APEC Handbook on Obligations in International Investment Treaties

06/10/2020 with [2661 views] no comments

The Centre for International Law announces the release of the APEC Handbook on Obligations in International Investment Treaties. Written by the Centre’s Head of Investment Law & Policy, N Jansen Calamita, with the support of the Australian government, the APEC Handbook is designed to help non-specialist government officials understand investment treaty obligations and the way they are applied to the day-to-day business of government. It is the first international resource of its kind and provides a valuable tool to help host economies manage their international obligations and take steps to avoid investment treaty disputes.

Investment treaties pose challenges to host economies. The broad scope of coverage of investment treaty obligations means that virtually all aspects of the host’s economy and regulatory system are subject to the investment treaty’s disciplines. Moreover, the varied and pervasive scope of foreign investment across economic sectors means that a wide range of entities and persons may take governmental decisions of one kind or another with respect to a foreign investment or investor for which the host economy will be legally responsible. Violating investment treaties can be expensive, sometimes resulting in awards in favour of investors of more than one billion dollars.

Given the range of officials who can create international liability, a central challenge for a host government is to ensure that there is an awareness of its international obligations among officials and that these obligations are taken into account in decision making. The APEC Handbook gives governments a tool to address this challenge. Short and easy to read, it can help build awareness within government and translate into better decision making. It can also support systems designed to give governments early warnings about potential claims as well as ombudsperson mechanisms designed to promote the avoidance and prevention of investor disputes. Addressed to the demands of busy government officials, it includes an eleven-point checklist that provides a quick reminder of how key investment treaty obligations can be applied to day-to-day decision making.

The APEC Handbook is the product of consultations with governments throughout APEC. The need for such a guide—to support investment flows and reduce the incidence of disputes in the region—was identified through the Centre’s ongoing work on investment law and policy, and supported by the Australian government’s APEC capacity-building programme.

The APEC Handbook is a free, open-source resource available for use by governments throughout the world and is available on the websites below.

For questions about the APEC Handbook and how it can be used to support the avoidance and prevention of investment disputes, please contact the author at n.j.calamita@nus.edu.sg.