Insights & news

Van Bael & Bellis assists and represents the Republic of Benin at the 36th session of UNCITRAL's Working Group III on Investor-State Dispute Settlement Reform

  • 08/11/2018
  • News

Van Bael & Bellis associate Quentin Declève assisted and represented the Republic of Benin during the 36th session of Working Group III (the “Working Group”) of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”).

In July 2017, the UNCITRAL Commission granted the Working Group a broad mandate to work on the possible reform of investor-State dispute settlement (“ISDS”). That mandate was divided into three distinctive stages: (i) identify and consider concerns regarding ISDS; (ii) consider whether reform was desirable in light of any identified concerns; and (iii) if the Working Group were to conclude that reform was desirable, develop any relevant solutions to be recommended to the UNCITRAL Commission.

The first phase of the mandate was initiated in November 2017 (in Vienna) and was completed in April 2018 (in New York City). At the end of that first phase, the Working Group identified a list of procedural and structural concerns with ISDS, relating to: (i) concerns pertaining to consistency, coherence, predictability and correctness of arbitral decisions by ISDS tribunals; (ii) concerns pertaining to arbitrators and decision makers (including their impartiality and independence, the existence of conflicts of interests and issues of “double hatting”); and (iii) concerns pertaining to cost and duration of ISDS cases.

Meeting in Vienna from 29 October 2017 until 2 November 2018, the Working Group initiated and completed the second stage of its mandate and found that these concerns about ISDS were serious enough to merit reform. The Working Group is now expected to start working, in April 2019 in New York, on a work plan that will be followed throughout the third phase of its mandate.

The discussions taking place within the Working Group are crucial for the future of ISDS. Possible options for reform range from soft law to more systemic approaches such as the establishment of a multilateral investment court proposed by the European Union and its Member States.

In a statement made on behalf of the Republic of Benin, Quentin Declève emphasized Benin's willingness to work on a systemic reform of ISDS and to push for the establishment of a multilateral investment court.

The assistance and representation offered by Van Bael & Bellis to the Republic of Benin is part of Van Bael & Bellis' pro bono programme.

Key contacts

Related insights

Sign up for updates
    • 30/01/2019
    • Articles

    Opinion 1/17 on CETA: Advocate General Bot finds that the investment court system in CETA is compatible with EU law

    On 29 January 2019, Advocate General Bot delivered his long-awaited Opinion (the Opinion) on whether the investment court system (ICS) in Chapter Eight, Section F, of the European Union-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is compatible with European Union (EU) law, in particular with the autonomy of the EU legal order and fundamental rights. The next step in the proceedings before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), initiated by Belgium following complications in its ratification process, is for the CJEU to deliver its Opinion on the same question. This client alert discusses the key elements of the Opinion and the implications of these CJEU proceedings on the European Union’s common commercial policy and its policy of advocating reform of existing investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) and the establishment of a multilateral investment court (MIC).

    Read more
    • 05/12/2018
    • News

    Quentin Declève participates in African round table on the reform of investment protection

    On 22 November 2018, Van Bael & Bellis associate Quentin participated in a high level event on the reform of investment protection organized by the Belgian Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs. The morning session brought together key stakeholders in the reform of the existing Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms as well as in the plans for a Multilateral Investment Court (MIC). European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmström, delivered a keynote speech laying out the EU’s plans for a multilateral investment court. This keynote speech was followed by two presentations: one by Meg Kinnear (Secretary-General of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)) and the other by Anna Joubin-Bret (Secretary of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL)). Those presentations were followed by two panel discussions which brought together a broad range of stakeholders, including members of trade unions, the OECD and academia, as well as business and arbitration experts. The afternoon session gathered representatives from several African countries (Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, South Africa and Zimbabwe) and was aimed at further discussing the ongoing reform and the specific expectations of African countries. During that session, Quentin spoke about the pro bono technical assistance offered by Van Bael & Bellis to the Republic of Benin in the context of ISDS reform. Representatives from the European Commission, the government of the Netherlands and UNCITRAL also took part in the discussion.

    Read more

Subscribe to our updates

Please select the practice areas you are interested in: *