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Title: Commercial diplomacy and investment protection : American diplomatic interventions to protect US assets overseas since 1990
Author: Gertz, Geoffrey
ISNI:       0000 0004 6495 7725
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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In recent decades international economic disputes have become ever more legalized, which in principle allows states to compartmentalize individual disputes from broader diplomatic relations. Nowhere is this more true than in the international investment regime, where private investors have been empowered to directly sue host states in international arbitration, rather than relying on their home states for diplomatic support. I challenge the standard narrative that investment protection has become "depoliticized", and reveal the persistent importance of informal commercial diplomacy in the settlement of investment disputes. I show that the US government continues to intervene diplomatically in disputes between American investors and developing country governments, despite the availability of institutional alternatives. Moreover, I argue such interventions are not primarily driven by pressure from private companies, but by government bureaucracies strategically pursuing their own interests, including advocating for investment climate reforms and demonstrating the value of commercial diplomacy to domestic constituencies. The empirical support for these claims proceeds in three stages. First, I use zero-inflated negative binomial regressions to demonstrate that American investors are more likely to file formal arbitration claims when they are less able to rely on diplomatic support, namely when the position of ambassador to the host state is temporarily vacant. Second, I provide a behind-the-scenes look at American investment protection policy using an original dataset of US diplomatic interventions in 256 investment disputes discussed in internal State Department cables released via WikiLeaks. Third, I use structured, focused comparisons in seven case studies of investment disputes to probe the particular drivers of US intervention, and show that diplomatic engagement is most likely in cases where the state itself has strong interests in intervening, rather than when private pressure compels it to do so. This thesis makes important and original contributions both to the literature on the international investment regime - which to date has broadly ignored the role of commercial diplomacy in contemporary dispute settlement - and to broader debates on the legalization of international economic disputes and the strategies firms use to shield themselves from political risks.
Supervisor: Milewicz, Karolina Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Diplomacy ; Investments ; Foreign ; American Foreign Policy ; Depoliticization ; Commercial Diplomacy