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INTERNATIONAL INVESTMENTS AND ECOLOGICAL SUSTAINABILITY

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Universidad Nacional de San Martín

Avenida Roque Saen Peña 832

San Martin, Buenos Aires

Argentina

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The International Investments in Latin America Network (IILA.Net) and the School of Policy and Government (EpyG) of the Universidad Nacional de San Martín, with the support of the University of Dundee and the Transnational Institute, are organizing a workshop on International Investments and Ecological Sustainability, which will take place on the 25th and 26th July 2019 at the Universidad Nacional de San Martín, Argentina.

We call on scholars from across social sciences to submit abstracts by Friday 31 May 2019. We particularly encourage submissions from the perspective of low and middle-income countries (LMICs). Selection of abstracts will be based on merits, regional and gender balance, and balance between established and young scholars. We encourage scholars from LMICs to submit their contributions noting that funding might be available to support their participation.


Justification

International investments remain a major source of external funding for all Latin American countries and LMICs in particular. However, the ability of governments to regulate the flow and implementation of investments is affected by the legal framework governing international investments. This framework derives from hundreds of old generation investment treaties to which LMICs in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia are parties. The straightjacket that these treaties create for these governments is further tightened by the current model of investor-state dispute settlement, which has been designed for the protection of foreign investors – and, indeed, investors continue to win most of the disputes. This has been causing governments, international organisations and civil society organisations to promote the reform of the laws and institutions governing international investments. In the myriad of proposals for the reform of the system, the right of governments to regulate and achieve sustainable development arises as a point of major concern. In this respect, some proposals have been advancing at least two strategies. On the one hand, they attempt to secure the power of governments to regulate in areas that they deem vital for their development. On the other, they emphasise corporate social responsibility of investors pursuant to international standards and the obligation of investors to comply with the domestic laws of the host countries.

Nevertheless, the fact remains that in all these proposals, sustainability emerges as a weak concept, which allows governments to invoke the objective of pursuing sustainable development to justify the adoption of disparate and even conflicting policies. Even if they manage to rebalance the system, to strengthen their regulatory powers and to attract investments into strategic sectors, ultimately governments might opt for promoting development at the cost of sustainability. Thus, strengthening the position of governments vis-a-vis investors might prove of limited effect for the promotion of sustainable development. At the same time, proposals that emphasise corporate social responsibility and stop short of establishing clear international obligations on investors might be of limited effect as well. Indeed, studies on the topic have not led to any conclusive findings that corporate social responsibility constitutes an effective vehicle for sustainable development.

In other words, if promotion of sustainable development is an important issue in the debate on the reform of the international investments law system, there seems to be a need for a strong concept of sustainability. Having this in mind, the present Workshop places ecological sustainability, defined in terms of the integrity or carrying capacity of Earth’s ecosystems, at the core of sustainable development. We define ecological sustainability as an emerging principle of international law which imposes on all stakeholders the duty to plan and implement investments with due respect to the integrity, the carrying capacity of earth’s ecosystems.

We invite scholars to discuss the implications of the principle of ecological sustainability in the law and practice of international investments at all levels of governance.


Call for abstracts and papers

We call on scholars of all levels, and early-career scholars in particular, to submit abstracts of no more than 800 words, together with a short curriculum vitae of no more than two pages, by Friday 31 May 2019 – to the following email: lghiotto@unsam.edu.ar. Abstracts should be in English. When submitting their contributions, authors are kindly asked to identify their names and a short title of their contribution in the subject line of their email [“surname _ short title”]. Only original pieces will be considered. Authors of selected abstracts will be invited to submit a 4,000 words paper by Friday 28 June 2019. All contributions should adopt OSCOLA.

Contributors should be free to adopt any theoretical and empirical perspectives, and we are especially interested in abstracts that adopt interdisciplinary approaches with clear methodology. We invite abstracts, from scholars from across the social sciences. Suggested topics include:

- International investment law and ecological sustainability
- Investment flows from a political ecology perspective
- International investment institutions and climate change
- Theoretical and empirical implications of the move towards renewables
- International investments, food security and ecological sustainability
- International investments, water and sanitation and ecological sustainability

- Investor-State Disputes and the principle of ecological sustainability
- International investment law, ecological sustainability and access to justice
- Local cultures, international investment law and ecological sustainability
- Foreign investors and ecological sustainability

Publication

The organisers intend to publish the best contributions and further details will be provided in due time.


Costs

Authors should bear their own costs, but funding might be available in specific, justified cases. Authors requiring funding should make this clear in their submissions.


International Investments in Latin America Network

IILA.Net is an informal network that aims at bringing academics, professionals and specialized Civil Society Organizations to the debate of topics of relevance in the field. This is the second of a series of events that members of the IILA.Net are organising.


Organising Committee

Luciana Ghiotto (Universidad Nacional de San Martin)

Sufyan Droubi (University of Dundee)

Cecilia Olivet (Transnational Institute)

Javier Echaide (Universidad de Buenos Aires)

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Universidad Nacional de San Martín

Avenida Roque Saen Peña 832

San Martin, Buenos Aires

Argentina

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