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Webinar 1: Is the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties Dead in BIT Arbitration

Is the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties Dead in BIT Arbitration?

Thank you to those of you who joined us for our latest webinar. Please find the recording of the session and accompanying slides.


Moderator: Ian Laird
Speakers: Andrea Bjorklund, Todd Weiler, Frédéric G. Sourgens and Borzu Sabahi

Topic:

  • Treaty interpretation is the key ideological battle in investor-state arbitration today
  • Tribunals frequently do not appear to apply the Vienna Convention to the satisfaction of the parties
  • How does this affect the legitimacy and efficacy of investment treaty arbitration?

Investor-state tribunals in most cases are tasked with the interpretation of investment treaties (e.g., BITs). In principle, the interpretation of BITs should be governed by the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (VCLT). But there is a body of evidence that tribunals do not appear to follow the VCLT – instead choosing to operate within a system that gives weight to the conclusions of earlier investor-state tribunals in disputes governed by different treaty instruments. The challenge of interpretation may be complicated by the open-ended nature of the treaty provisions in question; for example, where the host state shall extend fair and equitable treatment to investors. In the light of these issues, what is the role of the VCLT in BIT arbitrations?

The webinar will take the form of two rounds of debate on the topic each with one speaker presenting the case that the VCLT is practically redundant in investment arbitration and one speaker arguing for the the application of the VCLT. A live Q&A will close the event.