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Access_open The New Dutch Model Investment Agreement: On the Road to Sustainability or Keeping up Appearances?

Journal Erasmus Law Review, Issue 4 2019
Keywords Dutch model BIT, foreign direct investment, bilateral investment treaties, investor-to-state dispute settlement, sustainable development goals
Authors Alessandra Arcuri and Bart-Jaap Verbeek
AbstractAuthor's information

    In 2019, the Dutch government presented a New Model Investment Agreement that seeks to contribute to the sustainability and inclusivity of future Dutch trade and investment policy. This article offers a critical analysis of the most relevant parts of the revised model text in order to appraise to what extent it could promote sustainability and inclusivity. It starts by providing an overview of the Dutch BIT (Bilateral Investment Treaty) programme, where the role of the Netherlands as a favourite conduit country for global FDI is highlighted. In the article, we identify the reasons why the Netherlands became a preferred jurisdiction for foreign investors and the negative implications for governments and their policy space to advance sustainable development. The 2019 model text is expressly set out to achieve a fairer system and to protect ‘sustainable investment in the interest of development’. While displaying a welcome engagement with key values of sustainable development, this article identifies a number of weaknesses of the 2019 model text. Some of the most criticised substantive and procedural provisions are being reproduced in the model text, including the reiteration of investors’ legitimate expectation as an enforceable right, the inclusion of an umbrella clause, and the unaltered broad coverage of investments. Most notably, the model text continues to marginalise the interests of investment-affected communities and stakeholders, while bestowing exclusive rights and privileges on foreign investors. The article concludes by hinting at possible reforms to better align existing and future Dutch investment treaties with the sustainable development goals.


Alessandra Arcuri
Alessandra Arcuri is Professor of Inclusive Global Law and Governance, Erasmus School of Law (ESL), Erasmus Initiative Dynamics of Inclusive Prosperity, Erasmus University Rotterdam, arcuri@law.eur.nl.

Bart-Jaap Verbeek
Bart-Jaap Verbeek is Researcher at Stichting Onderzoek Multinationale Ondernemingen (SOMO) and PhD Candidate Political Science at the Radboud University.
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