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Title: The power of modest multilateralism : the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), 1964-1980
Author: St John, Taylor
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 3025
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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In 1965, amid antagonism between capital-importing and capital-exporting states over investment protection, the World Bank created ICSID. ICSID facilitates the resolution of disputes between foreign investors and states. Since major initiatives to create investment rules have failed within the UN and OECD, ICSID is the only successful attempt to create a multilateral, inter-state organization dedicated to investment. This thesis probes the intellectual, political, and economic forces behind the creation and early development of ICSID. This study combines archival work, oral histories, and interviews with econometric work. On this basis, it illuminates how ICSID's creators-mainly staff in the World Bank's Legal Department-adapted their ideas to suit the charged political context. When disseminating the idea of ICSID to states, they relied on ambiguity, expertise, and incrementalism. These three characteristics constitute an approach to organization building that I term "modest multilateralism" since the World Bank's President praised ICSID as "a modest proposal." By illustrating how this approach operated in ICSID's case, I generate insights that are applicable to other international organizations. ICSID's creation differs from the expectations of institutionalist IR theory in important ways. First, there was little state leadership, and ICSID's founding Convention is devoid of substance-it merely outlines a procedure. In this way, it takes the idea of ambiguity to its extreme. Second, ICSID's founders took steps to shield the organization from the politics of investment protection: they asked states to send legal experts, not elected representatives, and avoided deliberative debate. Third, ICSID's design was explicitly evolutionary. ICSID can operate alongside changing substantive rules-multilateral, bilateral, or domestic. Finally, contrary to previous accounts, in this thesis the ICSID Secretariat emerges as a dynamic agent. The Secretariat actively pursued ratifications and advance consents to investor-state arbitration. The creation of ICSID fostered a community of practice, which subsequently redefined international investment law through treaty making and arbitral practice.
Supervisor: FitzGerald, E. V. K.; Woods, Ngaire Sponsor: Marshall Commission ; Ford Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: International and macro-economic development ; Public international law ; Global economic governance ; investment arbitration ; investor-state arbitration ; World Bank ; multilateralism