13 January 2017

Carlsberg Foundation Postdoc Fellowship to Günes Ünüvar (iCourts)

Günes Ünüvar from iCourts - Centre of Excellence for International Courts has been awarded a Carlsberg Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship for a 2-year project, which will analyse how, in the age of the so-called ‘new-wave’ Free Trade Agreements (FTAs); international investment law will develop as an increasingly politicised and controversial legal field.

Since the mid-20th century, bilateral investment treaties have established a network of similar principles primarily aimed at protecting foreign investors in host states. Constructed upon short and vaguely worded treaties, international investment protection has been complemented by international arbitration as a means to settle disputes between said investors and states. Arbitral practice, particularly in the last three decades, has autonomised international investment jurisprudence and invoked popular academic and public discussions as to how this international legal regime may establish a balance between the protection of investors, states’ sovereign authority, and the public good.

The research, therefore, explores how politicisation of international investment treaties, among them FTAs, and incremental adjudicatory experience may affect the development and legitimacy of the international investment law regime. The research will particularly highlight the newly introduced court-like dispute settlement provisions in mega-regional FTAs, such as the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement CETA, and their possible impact on this process.

The research directly concerns society as a collective stakeholder in private-public disputes between investors and host states, as many disputes have an impact on public health, environment, sustainable development, as well as human rights. The research will explore the incorporation of these issues through democratic political debates under the recalibrated investment protection regime.

Planned as a two-year project, the research will construct a policy plan for policy-makers such as national and supranational negotiators, as well as the new investment courts to bolster their legitimacy through democratisation. It revolves around the idea of a balanced, transparent approach to the interpretation of substantive protection principles that allows for a foreign investment protection regime which inherently encapsulates the consideration of welfare policies pursued by states.

The overall focus of Günes Ünüvar’s research is treaty interpretation and incremental adjudicatory trends in international economic law, with a particular focus on investment treaties. He obtained his LL.B. from Bilkent University in Turkey (2010) and his LL.M. from the Institute of European Studies, Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium (2012). In early 2016, he was a Visiting Scholar at Columbia Law School. He was a PhD student at iCourts between September 2013 and August 2016, and holds a PhD degree since December 2016.