Bilateral Investment Treaties (“BIT’s”) are international agreements between two States concerning the terms for private foreign investment by nationals of one State in another State.
Such treaties are intended to encourage foreign direct investment in host States by ensuring standards for the treatment of foreign investors, including compensation for the expropriation of foreign investments, protection against the unfair and inequitable treatment of foreign investors, and protection against discriminatory treatment and lack of full protection and security.
Bilateral investment treaties frequently provide for international arbitration to resolve disputes between host States and investors, typically by way of ICSID arbitration, but also via UNCITRAL arbitration, SCC arbitration and in some cases ICC arbitration. A surprising number of States have entered into bilateral investment treaties, and it is estimated that over 2,500 bilateral investment treaties are in force today. Most countries have signed a BIT.
A nearly-complete list of bilateral investment treaties on a country-by-country may be found via ICSID’s Database of Bilateral Investment Treaties, which is based on information provided by State parties to the ICSID Convention, although the text of the treaties themselves is missing. A number of bilateral investment treaties, as well as similar multilateral agreements providing for investment arbitration to resolve disputes, are also provided on the Investment Treaty Arbitration website.
The best way to locate the full text of Bilateral Investment Treaties is through UNCTAD’s Bilateral Investment Treaty advanced search engine. This excellent free resource is accessible by clicking below.