This article aims to provide an intellectual context for understanding foreign investor rights in international law and, particularly, in the international investment regime. The propose to do this by looking at the 25 World Investment Reports (WIRs) issued by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) between 1991 and 2015.
The objective is not to explain the content of these WIRs, let alone UNCTAD’s work during this period, but to focus on these reports as narratives that have served to justify and balance foreign investor rights.
As narratives, the WIRs have contributed to shaping an influential story about the importance of attracting foreign direct investment (FDI), enabling transnational corporations (TNCs) and protecting foreign investor rights through international investment agreements (IIAs).
As Fredriksson and Moran note, UNCTAD and the WIRs ‘defined the mainstream in the policy area, and helped with consensus building.’3 Like in any controversial field, naturally, different interests have been involved in the production of the WIRs.