Reforming investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS)
: European Union flexing its normative power?

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisJD (Juris Doctor)


This thesis examines whether the European Union (‘EU’) is acting as a normative power in its pursuit of reform of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (‘ISDS’) in the form of the European Commission’s (‘Commission’) proposals on the Investment Court System (‘ICS’). The EU has emerged as a major player in international investment, and the EU is pursuing reform of ISDS in its new generation of trade and investment agreements. This dissertation seeks to contribute to Normative Power Europe (‘NPE’) literature as proposed by Ian Manners by incorporating normative ethics of the EU analysis to the novel case of ICS at the bilateral and multilateral levels. It examines the virtue, deontological and consequentialist ethical positions that the EU takes in relation to the speeches, policies, and papers it has made in relation to ISDS reform.

The project is presented in two parts. Part A contains the literature review and the dissertation. The literature review provides an overview of international investment law and EU investment law and policy. The dissertation argues that the EU appears to be largely acting in a normatively ethical manner with its proposal for reform of ISDS. The area in which the EU appears to be less coherent is when it comes to the impact and participation of third countries and raises further questions of the relationship of economic norms and interests. Part B contains the Case Note and Statute Report to further explore the topic of ISDS reform.
Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorCiarán O'Kelly (Supervisor) & Billy Melo Araujo (Supervisor)


  • Investor-state dispute settlement
  • investment court system
  • European Union
  • investment law

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