Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



Jose Alverez's recent book, The Public International Law Regime Governing International Investment, places international investment law firmly within the rubric of public international law. Historically, international investment law might have been classified as pure private international law given the private commercial actors and investment activities involved. Alvarez posits that a dichotomous public versus private law paradigm does not work in the context of international investment and makes the implicit explicit by considering investment law’s unique, arguably sui generis, hybrid essence that crosses the public and private international law divides. This book review explores Alvarez's primary thesis and his extended exposition on the U.S. Bilateral Investment Treaty program and the Argentine investment treaty disputes. To consider Alvarez's focus on Argentina and contextualize the larger investment arbitration universe, the review provides updated empirical data (current to 2009) about amounts claimed and awarded both for the body of final awards and the sub-set of awards where investors won. It then considers the Top 16 (T16) largest awards and introduces three different narratives to consider whether Argentina's experience is representative of the larger whole of investment treaty arbitration. The review concludes by observing that Alverez's core thesis, that the international investment regime is a complex one that can only be understood by appreciating the intersection of public and private law, is both sound and constructive.