2020 in Review: The Pandemic, Investment Treaty Arbitration, and Human Rights

January 23, 2021

It will come as no surprise to the readers of this blog that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on international arbitration (see blog coverage here).  In this post, we take a look back at 2020 to consider the intersection of the pandemic, investment, and human rights.  In February 2020, one of us took a look back at 2019 specifically in the context of international investment agreements (IIAs) and human rights.  This post follows in that tradition, while seeking to further understand how the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to shape the intersection of international arbitration and human rights.

This post first considers the ongoing effects of the pandemic on investment and human rights in 2020.  Second, it considers the degree to which human rights considerations have been specifically reflected in IIAs signed in 2020.  Notably, it does not address disputes because 2020 was a quiet year for investment treaty arbitration decisions that substantively engage with human rights considerations.  Third, and finally, it looks ahead to consider the potential trajectory of the intersection of investment and human rights in 2021.