When do states renegotiate investment agreements? The impact of arbitration

Yoram Z. Haftel, Alexander Thompson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Given that their main function is to forge durable commitments, it is notable that many international treaties change over time through the practice of renegotiation. While some agreements have remained intact after their initial conclusion, others are amended, updated, or replaced. Why are some international agreements renegotiated while others remain stable? This paper offers a systematic analysis of treaty renegotiation by presenting theoretical propositions and testing them in the context of bilateral investment treaties (BITs). We argue that states renegotiate when they learn new information about the legal and political consequences of their treaty commitments, and that such learning is most likely to take place when states are involved in investor-state dispute settlement cases. Employing an original data set on renegotiated BITs, we find robust empirical support for the learning argument. We conclude by discussing implications for the study of institutional change and the evolving investment regime.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)25-48
Number of pages24
JournalReview of International Organizations
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors are listed in alphabetical order. For comments on previous drafts, we thank Todd Allee, Patrick Bayer, Tomer Broude, Raphael Cunha, Cédric Dupont, Virginia Haufler, Raymond Hicks, Robert Keohane, Helen Milner, Lauge Poulsen, Katherine Sawyer, Johannes Urpelainen, Daniel Verdier, Rachel Wellhausen and Jason Young. We also thank the Editor and three anonymous reviewers for their comments. We thank David Carlson, Moshe Goldman, Anahit Gomtsian, and Maayan Morali for helpful research assistance. Yoram Haftel received financial support from the Marie Curie FP7 Integration Grant (Project 333374) within the 7th European Union Framework Programme.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer Science+Business Media New York.


  • Bilateral investment treaties
  • International agreements
  • International institutions
  • Investment arbitration


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