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Public/Private Conflict in Investment Treaty Arbitration – a Study on Umbrella Clauses

Marjosola, Heikki

HLR 2009



In investment treaty arbitration a neutral international tribunal adjudicates an investment related dispute between a private foreign investor and the host state of the investment. Access to tribunal is usually granted in investment treaties. Many investment treaties include umbrella clauses which create an obligation for the host-states of the investment to observe their obligations towards private investors. The nature of these obligations, however, can be subject to dispute. Whether a treaty protects e.g. the obligations stemming from investor-state contracts can become a puzzling question when a contract itself includes another forum for the settlement of disputes. These situations have resulted in jurisdictional conflicts which the tribunals have solved in an inconsistent manner. This paper argues that this well-known inconsistency is rooted in the praxis of judging state conduct along sovereign/merchant lines.

  • HLR 2009

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