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Université catholique de Louvain

International Investment Law

Université catholique de Louvain via edX


Are you aware of the controversial investor-State disputes and arbitral awards in which the public interest has been at stake, for instance, the protection of human rights and the environment? Do you recall recent cases such as Philip Morris v Uruguay and Vattenfall v Germany?

In the aftermath of these high profile cases and in the context of the negotiation of new international investment treaties, like the CETA and the TPP, local populations, policy-makers and NGOs have come to realize the societal importance of international investment law and arbitration. Passionate and sometimes ill-informed discussions have resulted from this realization. They have focused on the features of international investment law, which has traditionally granted rights to foreign investors notably to foster States’ economic development. Central to these discussions are the issues of:

  • the balance between the protection of foreign investments/investors and the right of host States to regulate in order to protect public interest objectives;
  • the regulation of foreign investments, i.e., the duties and obligations of foreign investors;
  • the promotion of sustainable development in international investment law;
  • the legitimacy of arbitration tribunals to decide on disputes between host States and foreign investors;
  • the coherence of arbitration practice.

Learning and understanding the features and dynamics of international investment law and arbitration is key not only for international lawyers and policy-makers, but it is also important knowledge for all well-informed citizens.

In this law course, you will:

  • discover the history of international investment law and arbitration as well as understand the dynamics which shape its evolution;
  • learn the objectives of international investment law and the specific rights international investment agreements (bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements’ investment chapters) grant to foreign investors, for instance the fair and equitable treatment and the prohibition of illegal expropriation;
  • discover how those rights have been interpreted in investment treaty arbitration;
  • master the features and functions of investor-state arbitration;
  • understand why international investment law and investor-state arbitration are currently the subject of criticism and be able to assess the soundness of this criticism;
  • gain insight into the content of the treaties newly concluded, and be able to assess how they address the issues of the right of host States to regulate, of foreign investors’ obligations and of the legitimacy of arbitration tribunals.


Module 1: The history of international investment law

  • Genesis, development and current features of international investment law

Module 2: The standards of treatment

  • The fair and equitable treatment standard
  • The full protection and security standard
  • The national treatment and most-favoured-nation treatment standards
  • The ‘umbrella clause’

Module 3: The protection against illegal expropriation

  • The categories of expropriation
  • The conditions of legality of expropriation
  • The identification indirect expropriation’s instances
  • ‘Regulatory measures’ versus ‘expropriatory measures’

Module 4: Investor-state arbitration: institutional and procedural aspects

  • The features of the settlement of investor-state disputes
  • The jurisdiction of arbitration tribunals
  • Provisional measures
  • Annulment proceedings

Module 5: Investor-state arbitration: interpretation, applicable law and State responsibility

  • Interpretation
  • Applicable law
  • Circumstances precluding wrongfulness
  • Reparation

Module 6: The future of international investment law

  • The future of investor-state dispute settlement
  • The protection of sustainable development
  • The obligations of foreign investors

Taught by

Yannick Radi


1.0 rating, based on 1 Class Central review

4.4 rating at edX based on 8 ratings

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  • Anonymous
    Exams are multiple choice with several potential answers and the student does not partial credit that he or she has correct. Also, the instructions mentioned that the students working for a verified certificate were going to have an essay as part of the examination and that this essay was going to be graded by the instructor. Apparently this part of the Midquarter was eliminated so that the instructor did not have to work. In addition, I noticed in two practice questions that all options or potential options gave a wrong answer. Might not have matter at the end. I have taken over 25 edX courses in the past but I think this will be the last.

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