Government officials from a number of line ministries attended a conference on investment treaty arbitration delivered by Professor Matthew Happold from the University of Luxembourg.
Professor Happold is in Laos under an agreement between the Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance, University of Luxembourg and the National University of Laos, where he has been delivering a number of lectures on international law.
Laos has signed bilateral investment treaties (BITs) with 28 countries and is a party to 18 treaties with investment provisions (TIPs) as well as a number of international investment agreements (IIAs).
Professor Happold pointed to the recent trend of states turning away from signing new investment agreements and even withdrawing from previously signed agreements. 2017 saw the lowest number of IIAs concluded since 1983 and for the first time the number of effective treaty terminations outnumbered the number of new treaties concluded.
Although based on reciprocity, states sign investment agreements for different reasons. The investing state wishes to protect its investment and ensure redress when badly treated. While the host state seeks to promote its own economic development.
He noted that there is a new generation of BITs which more clearly define investment and ensure that states maintain the regulatory space to enact national legislation such as environmental protection and protection of workers’ rights.
The conference, which was organised by the Institute for Legal Support and Technical Assistance (ILSTA) was warmly welcomed by participants and included an extended question and answer session.