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Much of the existing accounts assume that investment treaties affect national governance. However, how exactly this happens has been subject to little analysis. Conventional accounts presume that these treaties improve national governance, leading to good governance and the rule of law for all. Critical accounts charge that investment treaties unduly empower foreign investors and cause a regulatory chill. On both accounts, investment treaties are expected to empower and constrain. Comparing extended case studies of Argentina, the Czech Republic, India and Mexico, this book shows how investment treaties influence national governance ideologically, institutionally, and socially. We show how the overarching role of IIAs in national governance – to cultivate constraining discipline in public administration – is realised and who gets empowered and marginalised in the process. The book's findings will serve in the debates about alternative ways of economic governance and help explain the investment treaty regime's significant resistance to change.


‘There is a saying that ‘no battle plan survives contact with the enemy.’ After reading this book, you may think that ‘no theory about investment treaties survives contact with reality.’ Many international lawyers are content to analyse issues at the interstate level without getting their hands dirty with empirical evidence, particularly at a national and sub-national level. But when socio-legal scholars come along who are able to take us deep into the messy entanglement of actors, narratives and relationships in four different national contexts, we are able to develop a much more detailed, compelling and nuanced understanding of how investment treaties empower and constrain the behaviour of states. This book stands as a testament to how scholarship in this field is maturing and deepening.’

Anthea Roberts - Professor at the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet), Australian National University

‘A much-awaited empirical inquiry into the differential effects of investment agreements on national elites, governments, and democracies. A great achievement in socio-legal scholarship, an exciting world-tour into the local politics of investment treaties, and a real challenge to the current narrative of the subject. C’est à lire !’

Antoine Vauchez - CNRS Research Professor, Université Paris 1-Sorbonne

'This original, fascinating book assesses the impact of international investment treaties and disputes within states in critically needed ways. It explains the role of key actors, processes, and their institutional and ideational effects. It grounds its analysis in detailed case studies of Argentina, the Czech Republic, India, and Mexico. It demonstrates the value of para-ethnographic socio-legal methods for understanding the operation and impact of the investment law regime, and the regime’s implications for policy.'

Gregory Shaffer - Chancellor's Professor, University of California, Irvine School of Law; President, American Society of International Law

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