JOURNAL OF BUSINESS ENTREPRENEURSHIP & THE LAW
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Convergence and Divergence Between International Investments Law and Human Rights Law, in the Context of the Greek Sovereign Debt Restructuring

Convergence and Divergence Between International Investments Law and Human Rights Law, in the Context of the Greek Sovereign Debt Restructuring

International investment law developed separately from and was, for a long period, perceived as incompatible with human rights law. Despite the tendency to distinguish the evolution of these two fields of international law, however, they are not completely dissimilar. Inter alia, they both aim to safeguard investors’ rights to property, to promote respect for due process, and to address the undisputed position of power of the state against the individual. In situations of sovereign default, the asymmetry between the powers of the state and the rights of investors is even more clearly demonstrated, even within the European Union. Indeed, although the European Union Primary Law provides several safeguards to avoid sovereign default, it does not regulate the implications if such a default occurs, leaving investors confronted with a regulatory vacuum subject to states’ willingness for “collaboration.” Protection awarded by Investment Treaties is not always sufficient. There is considerable variation in the terms of the various Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) negotiated by different countries, where investors are often not covered by the applicable investment treaty. This paper explores the developments brought about by the Financial Crisis of 2007, the actions taken by Greece affecting foreign investors, and the study of human rights implications of such actions as examined in cases of debt structuring, both in human rights venues as well as in international investment tribunals. This paper additionally explores how such developments can arise through the interpretation of human rights treaties, such as the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), in the context of investment law. This article demonstrates the need for human rights law to complement investment treaties and to effectively safeguard investors’ rights.

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