Roundtable: International Courts in a Time of Populism

Event summary by our intern Carolina Ernst:

The CGC was delighted to welcome Dr Taylor St John, Professor Jeffrey Dunoff and Professor Tony Lang Jr. to discuss Dr St John’s recently published book, The Rise of Investor-State Arbitration: Politics, Law, and Unintended Consequences as well as modern international courts.

The talk commenced with an overview by Dr St John of the major themes of the book, and the development of investor-state arbitration into its current form. Investor-state arbitration is unique, giving firms and corporations the right to sue governments for perceived discrimination. Dr St John argued that the World Bank plays an active role in investor-state arbitration through the encouragement of an investor-friendly environment.

The talk continued with responses by Professor Dunoff and Professor Lang. Professor Dunoff structured his portion of the talk in terms of the past, present, and future. From a historical point of view, he discussed how investor-state arbitration challenges traditional accounts of the investment regime before moving on to the current threats and hostility to all international courts posed by populism. From a future perspective he addressed the plans of a new EU investment court, given that current regulations heavily favour investors, and the desire for increased transparency.