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Investment treaties and national sovereignty: latest developments

Martin Karas (Department of International Political Relations, University of Economics in Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia)
Katarína Brocková (Department of International Law, University of Economics in Bratislava, Bratislava, Slovakia)

Journal of International Trade Law and Policy

ISSN: 1477-0024

Article publication date: 27 May 2021

Issue publication date: 22 June 2021




The purpose of this paper is twofold. First, it identifies the latest trends in investment treaty making and determines the degree to which these trends affect the regulatory space of nation states. Second, it situates the conflict between investment protection and national sovereignty on the level of investment treaties within the wider theoretical framework of the debate between neoliberalism and neorealism in the field of international relations.


This research paper uses qualitative content analysis of international investment treaties with the aim of comparing a sample of new investment treaties with a sample of treaties from a previous generation.


The findings of the paper indicate that the language of investment treaties signed recently tends to promote greater regulatory space for the nation states compared to previous generation of treaties. However, the analysis also suggests that the changes still offer significant leeway to investment tribunals in interpreting the new treaty language, which could mean that the move towards greater national sovereignty in international investment law will not be as significant as many suggest.


Originality of the paper consists mainly in explicit connection it makes between international investment law and the debate between neorealism and neoliberalism in international relations theory.



Karas, M. and Brocková, K. (2021), "Investment treaties and national sovereignty: latest developments", Journal of International Trade Law and Policy, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 127-141.



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