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Must We Protect Foreign Investors?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Johannes KniessORCiD



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Walter de Gruyter GmbH, 2018.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Investment protection clauses, and the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms they enable, have become a common feature of international agreements on trade and investment. Intended to promote foreign investment, these protections may also discourage governments from regulating in the public interest. This raises challenging normative questions about the rights of investors and distributive justice. In this paper, I argue that a global investment regime that disadvantages developing countries and socially disadvantaged groups is prima facie unfair. This conclusion must be defended against the claim that investors have certain independent moral rights to have their property protected, regardless of the distributive consequences. Granting the premise that such investor rights exist, I argue that these cannot plausibly ground a general rule against public interest regulation that undermines the value of property. I conclude that even if foreign investors have rights that must be safeguarded, the current investment regime must be reformed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Kniess J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Moral Philosophy and Politics

Year: 2018

Volume: 5

Issue: 2

Pages: 205-226

Print publication date: 27/11/2018

Online publication date: 12/10/2018

Acceptance date: 14/09/2018

Date deposited: 25/11/2019

ISSN (print): 2194-5616

ISSN (electronic): 2194-5624

Publisher: Walter de Gruyter GmbH


DOI: 10.1515/mopp-2018-0007


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