Investment | Brussels, 17 March 2015
EU welcomes more transparency in investor-to-state dispute settlement globally
As of today, the UN Convention on transparency in investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) is open for signatures. Following negotiations in the framework of the United Nations Commission for International Trade law (UNCITRAL), a signing ceremony took place in Mauritius.
Transparency is the cornerstone of a legitimate and accountable ISDS system. Over the last three years the EU has been instrumental in the UN in pushing the UNCITRAL Transparency Rules and negotiating the Mauritius Convention.
The Mauritius convention would make it possible to extend the application of the UNCITRAL Transparency Rules to the existing around 3000 investment agreements signed worldwide before 1 April 2014.
With the Mauritius Convention and the UNCITRAL Transparency Rules we have at our disposal all the legal instruments necessary:
- to open hearings to the public
- to allow interested parties to make submissions to the tribunal, and
- to make publicly available the arbitration documents in disputes under existing and future investment treaties.
The European Union has started to use the UNCITRAL transparency rules as a basis for the provisions on transparency in its trade agreements.
Once the EU has cleared a number of internal procedures it will be in the position to sign the Convention. After today's signing ceremony, the Convention will remain open for signature in the UN headquarters in New York and the Commission is now making all efforts so that the EU can sign it. The Commission continues to work to promote transparency in investor-to-state dispute settlement globally.
The UN Mauritius Convention on transparency was drawn up by a special working group composed of representatives of a large number of countries that have concluded investment treaties including ISDS. The UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on 10 December 2014.
The Convention makes it possible for both individual states and organisations like the EU to agree to apply the UNCITRAL Transparency Rules in their investment treaties that are already in effect. It would therefore permit the EU Member States to apply the Transparency Rules to their over 1400 existing treaties concluded with non-EU countries. In the case of the EU, the Convention would apply to the Energy Charter Treaty to which the EU is a party since 1998.
For countries who decide to sign it, the Convention would apply automatically to all their treaties, unless the country specifically lists investment agreements where it does not want the Transparency Rules to apply.
UNCITRAL Transparency Rules
The UNCITRAL Transparency Rules entered into force on 1 April 2014. These rules set the standard for ISDS transparency and will apply to all treaties concluded after 1 April 2014 which contain a reference to the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules.