Preserving Flexibility in IIAs

The Use of Reservations

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Reservations in International Investment Agreements are a key technique for balancing flexibility of national authorities with international commitments in the field of investment, especially for developing countries. This paper studies the use of such reservations at two levels. First, it assesses the various means that signatories have at their disposal when attempting to preserve flexibility and regulatory autonomy. Second, it explores the revealed preferences for flexibility emerging from the reservation lists of eight International Investment Agreements employing a negative list approach to scheduling non-conforming measures.




The secretariat of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) is implementing a programme on international investment arrangements. It seeks to help developing countries to participate as effectively as possible in international investment rule-making. The programme embraces policy research and development, including the preparation of a series of issues papers; human resources capacity-building and institution-building, including national seminars, regional symposia, and training courses; and support to intergovernmental consensus-building.


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