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  • Informazioni generali sul corso

    Pia Acconci has been a researcher and a professor of European Union Law and International Law for more than fifteen years. She got the Ph.D. in International Economic Law in 1997. She has been member of the Italian Society of International Law (since 1997), member of the Editing Staff of the Italian Yearbook of International Law (since 1999) and member of the Italian Branch of the International Law Association (since 2004). She is a member of the Committee on ‘Global Health Law’ of the International Law Association since 2015 (ILA) and was also a member of the ILA Committee on International Law concerning Foreign Direct Investment of the International Law Association (2004-2008).

    Meanwhile, she has taught at several universities and taken part in national as well as international conferences and seminars.

    Her writings mainly concern international investment law with particular regard to the requirement of corporate nationality, the definition of the investment, the field of application of the most-favoured-nation treatment standard and the relevance of non-investment concerns, the promotion of corporate social responsibility and sustainable development within international law and European Union law, human rights protection and health issues in international law.

    She is the author of many articles and two books – “Il collegamento tra Stato e società in materia di investimenti stranieri” (“The Link between State and Company in the Field of Foreign Investments”), Padova, CEDAM, 2002, and “Tutela della salute e diritto internazionale” (“Protection of Health and International Law”), Padova, CEDAM, 2011 -, as well as the editor/co-editor of collected essays.

    Course Description

    The course will focus on the international legal framework related to the activity of individuals and companies that choose to invest abroad. The course will examine the structure and sources of international investment law and developments that have been occurring in post-War modern times. Thousands of international bilateral treaties have been concluded in the field, while a single multilateral wide-ranging treaty is still lacking. By looking at the main models of international applicable rules and arbitration case-law, students will gain knowledge of the realities of foreign investments that are a key element for the international economic growth and development.

    The course will be carried out using a combination of lectures and class discussions. A reading list and materials will be indicated as compulsory, others as further reference.

    Learning objectives

    The course will provide a general introduction to the international legal framework on investment as it emerges from international treaties and acts enacted by international organisations and from international arbitral case-law. Reference will be made to: 1) the United Nations; 2) the most relevant international treaties of the last thirty years; 3) the 1965 Washington Convention establishing the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID); 4) non-investment concerns, such as the environment and human rights, and the goals of sustainable development.

    After an historical overview of the origins of the current framework and an introduction to the basic concepts and actors, the course will survey the principal subject-matters of treaty clauses and how some of them have raised relevant arbitral cases, even in connection to economic, political and social emergencies.

    Disputes relating to investments, often originating from takings, can be settled through State v. State or investor-State arbitration. In this field, the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), established by the Washington Agreement of 1965, has been producing a meaningful case-law on many crucial topics relating to the standards of protection and methods of interpretation of treaty provisions. One area of focus will be on the ICSID case law concerning the basic needs of human beings and the safeguard of the environment.

    The course presumes no prior knowledge of economics, investment or trade policy. It complements other courses, in particular international law, and aims at offering a cross-disciplinary perspective.

    Aim of the course

    At the end of the course the students are expected to

    - a) be able to participate in the discussions proposed during the course.

    - b) understand the different perspectives at the root of the practice of international law on investment;

    - c) be able to compare the different characters of the existing means of settlement of international economic disputes.

    List of topics

    Historical overview of the international investment legal framework. - Actors and sources of international investment law. - Definition of foreign investment. - Standard treatment of foreign investment. - Settlement of disputes between the host State and the foreign investor, with particular regard to diplomatic protection and ICSID direct arbitration. - The relevance of non-investment concerns in international investment law.


    Krista Nadakavukaren Schefer, International Investment Law, Edward Elgar, 2013 (pp. 1-42, 59-61, 113-114, 154-156, 165-170, 203-210, 218, 268-272, 303-305, 311-313, 327-331, 361-391 (available in the Law Library)

    Optional readings: on the determination of ICSID jurisdiction: P. Acconci, Determining the Internationally Relevant Link between a State and a Corporate Investor – Recent Trends concerning the Application of the “Genuine Link” Test, in Journal of World Investment & Trade (No. 1/2004, pp. 139-175); Idem, The Requirement of Continuous Corporate Nationality and Customary International Rules on Foreign Investments: The Loewen Case, in The Italian Yearbook of International Law, XIV volume, 2004, pp. 225-236; Idem, The Unexpected Development-friendly Definition of Investment in the 2013 IDI Resolution, in The Italian Yearbook of International Law, 2013, vol. XXIII; on the relevance of non-investment concerns: P. Acconci, The Integration of Non-investment Concerns as an Opportunity for the Modernization of International Investment Law: Is a Multilateral Approach Desirable?, in G. Sacerdoti (ed.), P. Acconci, M. Valenti, A. De Luca (co-eds.), “General Interests of Host States in International Investment Law”, 2014 (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge).

    Optional readings published by Pia Acconci can be required at the beginning of the course.

    Recommended Internet Sites: 


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