Protection of Human Rights in the International Investment Regime: A Critical Survey with a view into the Iranian Foreign Investment Experience
Investment Law , International Investment Law , Bilateral Investment Treaties
Considering that the main purpose of attracting foreign investment is the economic development of the host states, as well as profit of the foreign investors, this purpose cannot be achieved, at least not over the long term, by infringing the human rights of the host states. The Islamic Republic of Iran is a large country with rich natural resources which require foreign investment to develop its resources. On this basis, exploring the economic development of the Iranian state, as an investment host state, and reflection of human rights protection in the investment law regime of Iran, have significant importance. For this aim, this research examines the provisions of the Iranian effective BITs and applicable domestic human rights laws on foreign investors to find out to what extent the existing Iranian investment law regime protects the human rights law obligations of the Iranian state vis-à-vis its obligations toward foreign investors. Iran, as a respondent state in investment arbitration, could take human rights arguments whether for justifying measures undertaken in compliance with international or domestic human rights law, or for invoking violations of its domestic human rights law by the foreign investors. This research finds out that refining the pro-investor approach of Iran’s current treaties will effectively address the tensions between human rights and investment norms. Drafting a new model agreement with human rights consideration and renegotiating the existing investment treaties with counterparties—the major trading partners in priority—could help the Iranian state to establish an equilibrium between protection of foreign investors and its regulatory power for protecting the human rights of the Iranian citizens, and finally achieve its desired economic development in the long-term.