Sacrificing sovereignty: bilateral investment treaties, international arbitration, and the quest for capital Public Deposited

Downloadable Content

Download PDF
Last Modified
  • March 22, 2019
  • Yackee, Jason D.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • This dissertation examines the phenomenon of bilateral investment treaties, or BITs. Developing countries have increasingly turned to these treaties as a means of offering credible promises to foreign investors of favorable treatment, ostensibly in order to induce greater investment flows. My analysis is three-pronged. First, I argue that only certain kinds of BITs are likely to have much of an effect on investment flows-namely, those that contain binding state pre-consents to investor-initiated arbitration. I present the first comprehensive analysis of the dispute-settlement content of existing treaties. This data-collection effort informs the statistical analyses presented in later chapters. Second, I argue that the willingness of developing countries to enter into BITs should depend in predictable ways on the partisan character of their governing elites. I present results from a large-n statistical analysis that shows that partisanship indeed matters in predicting the likelihood that BITs will be embraced as a mechanism to attract foreign investment. Finally, I present a large-n statistical analysis of the effectiveness of BITs at attracting additional foreign investment. I find very limited evidence that strong BITs are of much use in the so-called "competition for capital". The finding is of great potential significance to developing countries, who have in the past appeared to blindly embrace BITs as a significant part of their development strategies. My results suggest that while BITs may be likely to impose significant sovereignty costs on developing countries, they are unlikely to provide much in the way of off-setting benefits.
Date of publication
Resource type
Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Oatley, Thomas H.
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

This work has no parents.