International investment treaty-making in the new era of global economy
Session Type
Room number
WIF Virtual Platform, room 1
Contact Email
19 October 2021
16:30 - 19:00 Europe/Zurich

International investment agreement (IIA) reform remains a daunting task for all member States, with challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Policymakers, IIA practitioners, civil society and legal scholars need to urgently take stock of ongoing reform efforts in times of COVID-19, both in terms of what IIA reform measures countries and regional organizations undertook or are considering undertaking in response to the crisis, and how to maintain and strengthen the reform momentum in light of the increased fragility of economies around the world that places added emphasis on the importance of FDI as a means of development finance. The 2021 IIA Conference will aim to pave the way for further inclusive, transparent, and synchronized IIA reform processes in the pursuit of sustainable development in the post-COVID-19 era.

Forward-looking IIA reform is well under way. All treaties concluded in 2020 contain several reform features that are in line with the UNCTAD’s Reform Package for the International Investment Regime (2018) or the UNCTAD Investment Policy Framework for Sustainable Development (2015). These features address five areas i) safeguarding the right to regulate, while providing protection ii) reforming investment dispute settlement iii) promoting and facilitating investments iv) ensuring responsible investment v) enhancing systemic consistency. UNCTAD policy tools have also spurred action to modernize old-generation treaties. Countries are increasingly interpreting, amending, replacing or terminating outdated treaties (Phase 2 of IIA Reform).

Given that, to date, such reform actions have addressed a relatively small number of IIAs, there is broad scope and urgency to pursue them further. Currently, the stock of old-generation treaties is 10 times greater than the number of modern, reform-oriented treaties and the majority of known investor–State dispute settlement cases have to date been based on old-generation treaties.

UNCTAD’s newly launched IIA Reform Accelerator offers a practical tool for intensifying IIA reform efforts. Based on a stocktaking of recent reform efforts, the 2021 High-level IIA Conference will offer the platform for accelerating IIA Reform and taking concrete steps towards a more coherent and consolidated process for modernizing old-generation IIAs.

Issues to be addressed

  • Taking stock of IIA reform efforts
  • Reforming investment dispute settlement
  • Accelerating IIA reform in the public interest


  1. Taking stock of the reform of the IIA regime
  2. Way forward – accelerating IIA reform



Director, Division on Investment and Enterprise, UNCTAD and Lead, UNCTAD World Investment Forum
Director, Directorate of Trade in Services, Investment, Intellectual Property Rights and Digital Trade, African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat
Secretary-General, Energy Charter Secretariat
Head of Investment Policy Unit, European Commission
Secretary-General, International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes
Head of the Investment Division, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Secretary, United Nations Commission on International Trade Law
Head of Division, Foreign Investment, Paris Club, Development Banks, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, Germany
Director General of International Trade in Services and Investment, Ministry of Economy, Mexico
Director, Trade Policy and Economic Governance, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Netherlands
Secretary, Board of Investment, Pakistan
Director, Legal, International Trade, Investment, Dispute Settlement, Department of Trade, Industry and Competition, South Africa
Deputy Head, International Investment and Multinational Enterprises Division, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), Switzerland
Chair, Committee on Investment and Responsible Business Conduct, Business at OECD (BIAC)
Trade Policy and Legal Specialist, Office of Trade Negotiations, CARICOM Secretariat
Director, Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
Sustainable Investment Lead, Economic Law and Policy Program, International Institute for Sustainable Development
Head of Investment Law and Policy, National University of Singapore
Chair, UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, and Professor, Macquarie Law School, Sydney
Senior Advisor, United States Council for International Business
Professor of International Law and Director of the Department of International Law, University of Geneva
Senior Investment Policy Officer, International Investment Agreements Section, UNCTAD


Head, Department for Bilateral Trade Relations, Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Director, Legal Services, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission