Professor Ken Vandevelde was invited to speak at the United Nations World Investment Forum, held in Doha, Qatar, on April 21-22. The World Investment Forum is an event organized every two years to consider major economic and legal issues relating to international capital movements.
Speakers included heads of state, cabinet level ministers, chief executive officers of major multinational corporations, economists and legal experts. The United States was represented by officials from the White House and the State Department, but Professor Vandevelde was the only American legal scholar asked to speak. Professor Vandevelde’s portion of the program was a roundtable discussion of current issues in international investment law.
“One of the hot topics at the conference was the buyer’s remorse that some countries feel regarding the conclusion of investment treaties,” summarized Professor Vandevelde. “They signed the treaties hoping to attract foreign investment, but have come to believe that the treaties are not effective in that respect.
“Meanwhile, foreign investors are submitting hundreds of claims against host countries seeking hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation for alleged treaty violations. Some countries believe that these claims create a chilling effect and leave governments too little discretion to regulate their economies.”
Professor Vandevelde also was asked to serve as a final speaker, with a specific charge of proposing practical, concrete solutions to the issues under discussion.
“I have defended investment treaties on the ground that theypromote the rule of law in international economic relations,” said Professor Vandevelde.
“The need now is for legal commentary that brings conceptual order to the mass of arbitral decisions, that clarifies the meaning of the treaties, and that reassures host countries that treaty norms merely reflect principles of good governance.”
Professor Vandevelde has published three books on international investment law and is currently working on a fourth book, which he expects to complete next year.