Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Mechanism: A Multifaceted Examination of their Jurisprudential Underpinnings

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Journal Title: Journal of Legal Studies & Research
Author(s): Prerana Ghosh
Published On: 05/02/2024
Volume: 10
Issue: 1
First Page: 65
Last Page: 76
ISSN: 2455-2437
Publisher: The Law Brigade Publisher

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Prerana Ghosh, Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Mechanism: A Multifaceted Examination of their Jurisprudential Underpinnings, Volume 10 Issue 1, Journal of Legal Studies & Research, 65-76, Published on 05/02/2024, Available at


Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms and arbitration play a pivotal role in modern international investment law. This abstract provides an overview of ISDS mechanisms and arbitration, highlighting their significance, evolution, and the ongoing debates surrounding their use. ISDS mechanisms offer a platform for resolving disputes that may arise between foreign investors and host states. These disputes often pertain to alleged breaches of investment protection agreements, including bilateral investment treaties (BITs) and international investment agreements (IIAs). The primary aim of ISDS is to protect foreign investments by providing a neutral and efficient means of dispute resolution. Over the years, ISDS mechanisms have evolved significantly. Early ISDS provisions were one-sided, heavily favouring investor interests. However, the legal landscape has evolved, leading to increased emphasis on balancing investor protection with host state sovereignty. This balance is reflected in newer agreements, which include more stringent requirements and procedural safeguards. Notably, many countries have moved towards promoting transparency in the arbitration process and ensuring arbitrators are independent and impartial. ISDS arbitration typically involves a panel of arbitrators who decide on disputes between investors and states. The choice of arbitrators, often from diverse backgrounds, ensures neutrality and impartiality in the decision-making process. However, concerns have been raised about the lack of consistency and predictability in arbitral decisions, leading to questions about the system’s legitimacy and transparency. The ongoing debate around ISDS mechanisms and arbitration revolves around several key issues. First, there is the question of whether ISDS is necessary in the first place. Critics argue that it grants investors significant rights and disproportionately impacts state sovereignty. They advocate for alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, while proponents highlight the importance of providing a stable and secure environment for foreign investors. Another contentious issue is the lack of transparency in ISDS proceedings. Critics argue that the confidentiality of arbitration can hinder public interest, leading to potentially inconsistent decisions. Efforts have been made to address this concern by encouraging transparency through mechanisms like the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Transparency Rules. Furthermore, there is a need to address the issue of third-party funding, where external entities finance investor-state disputes. While it can provide access to justice for investors, it has raised concerns about potential conflicts of interest and its impact on arbitral decisions. The future of ISDS mechanisms and arbitration remains uncertain. Some countries have chosen to reform their existing agreements, while others have sought to terminate or renegotiate them. The future of ISDS mechanisms and arbitration will depend on striking a delicate balance between safeguarding investments and respecting the sovereignty of host states.

Keywords: ISDS Mechanism, Arbitration, Legal implications of awards, Investor protection, Accessibility, International investment, Global economy.

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