San Diego International Law Journal

Document Type



The international law on foreign investment is commonly accepted as one of the most controversial areas of international law. Not only does international investment law lack clear rules on investment promotion and protection, this area of the law has always generated opposing rules, and implicates divergent interests in the process. In the face of unclear rules, and against the backdrop of the need to protect foreign investment through the internationalization of investment dispute settlement, and the position that this will facilitate investment flows to Third World states, the World Bank established the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). In the last quarter of the 20th century, investment arbitration garnered considerable international attention, especially in relation to issues that implicate international and local public interest, including environmental protection, labor and human rights. While issues of human rights and environmental protection are relevant the world over, a further issue of economic development arises in the case of the Third World. The drafters of the ICSID Convention did not contemplate, at least not explicitly, public interest issues related to foreign investment that have become prominent lately. However, they did consider ICSID's utility in facilitating the economic development of the Third World. Nevertheless, the question remains whether ICSID has been able to facilitate economic development in the Third World. While this might be difficult to determine without empirical research, an examination of ICSID's work in balancing the needs of the Third World and foreign investors, seems a modest and appropriate endeavor to undertake in this article.