International Investment Law and other international legal systems, such as trade law and environmental law have interactions and dynamic interrelationships in meeting global challenges including energy security, climate change, and the need for the renewable energy transition. They help in delivering the principles of justice in the context of changing global values and legal practices. Accordingly, they have a potential share in the global climate change mitigation agenda through innovative policies and regulations, inter alia, to facilitate and promote foreign investment and trade in the renewable energy sector. Similarly, these systems have common principles in their respective agreements. The Most-Favoured Nation Treatment (MFN) is among these. Hence to analyse the potential role of MFN in the context of the renewable energy transition is significant. This article sheds light on this dilemma by expounding on the concept of MFN, analysing the MFN clauses under IIAs, and its relevance in terms of renewable energy investment protection. It concludes that the application of MFN has been especially problematic since it is incorporated somewhat differently in the international investment and trade regimes. While it is one of the basic principles of WTO, it remains among the least successful provisions in investor-State arbitration. Despite its nearly ubiquitous usage, the interpretation of the MFN clause and its scope of application has been disputable so far. IIAs contain different MFN clauses with various exemptions, and the arbitral practice has demonstrated several divergent decisions that other tribunals and legal scholars feel should be subject to a more focused review.


Legal Documents

Agreement between Argentine and Spain on the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments (signed 3 October 1991, entered into force 28 September 1992).

Agreement between Jordan and Italy on the Promotion and Protection of Investments (signed 21 July 1996, entered into force 17 January 2000).

Agreement between the European Union and Japan for an Economic Partnership (signed 17 July 2018, entered into force 1 February 2019).

Agreement between The Republic of Singapore and The Republic of Indonesia on the Promotion and Protection of Investments (signed 11 October 2018, entered into force 9 March 2021).

Agreement between the UK and Albania for the Promotion and Protection of Investments (signed 30 March 1994, entered into force 30 August 1995).

Agreement between the UK and Japan for a Comprehensive Economic Partnership (signed 23 October 2020, entered into force 1 January 2021).

Agreement between the United States of America, the United Mexican States, and Canada (USMCA) (opened for signature 30 November 2018, entered into force 1 July 2020).

Agreement between Ukraine and the UK for the Promotion and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (signed 10 February 1993, entered into force 10 February 1993).

Agreement on Investment of the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between China and The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (adopted 15 August 2009, entered into force 1 January 2010).

Agreement on the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments between Algeria and Iran (signed 19 October 2003, entered into force 5 December 2005).

Austrian Model BIT (2008).

Bilateral Agreement for the Promotion and Protection of Investments between the UK and Colombia (signed 17 March 2010, entered into force 10 October 2014).

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union (signed 30 October 2016, entered into force 21 September 2017) (CETA).

Decision of the Energy Charter Conference. “Modernisation of the Energy Charter Treaty.” Document No CCDEC 2017 23 STR. Adopted November 28, 2017. https://www.energycharter.org/fileadmin/DocumentsMedia/CCDECS/2017/CCDEC201723.pdf.

Economic Partnership Agreement between The CARIFORUM STATES and The European Community and its Member States, [2008] OJ L289/I/3 (signed 15 October 2008, entered into force 1 January 2009).

European Parliament, Directive EU2018/2001 of 11 December 2018 on the Promotion of the Use of Energy from Renewable Sources (recast), 2018 OJ L328/82, 11/12/2018.

Free Trade Agreement between Australia and China (signed 17 June 2015, entered into force 20 December 2015).

Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Viet Nam, 2020 OJ L 186/3 (adopted 30 June 2019, entered into force 1 August 2020).

General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, 1867 UNTS 187 (adopted 30 October 1947, entered into force 1 January 1948) (GATT).

General Agreement on Trade in Services, 1869 UNTS 183 (adopted 15 April 1994, entered into force 1 January 1995) (GATS).

Investment Agreement for the COMESA Common Investment Area (adopted 23 May 2007).

Model Text for Indian Bilateral Investment Treaty (2015).

Report of the International Law Commission, Sixty-seventh session, UN Doc A/70/10 (15 August 2015).

Supplementary Treaty to the Energy Charter Treaty (adopted 25 June 1998).

The Energy Charter Treaty, 2080 UNTS 100 (adopted 17 December 1994, entered into force 16 April 1998).

Treaty for Mercantile Intercourse with Flanders (signed 17 August 1417).

Vienna Convention of the Law of Treaties, 1155 UNTS 331 (adopted 23 May 1969, entered into force 27 January 1980) (VCLT).

Law Cases

Abaclat and Others v Argentine Republic (Decision on Jurisdiction and Admissibility) (ICSID Arbitral Tribunal, Case No ARB/07/5, 4 August 2011).

Ansung Housing Co, Ltd v People's Republic of China (Award) (ICSID Arbitral Tribunal, Case No ARB/14/25, 9 March 2017).

Bayindir Insaat Turizm Ticaret Ve Sanayi AS v Islamic Republic of Pakistan (I) (Award) (ICSID Arbitral Tribunal, Case No ARB/03/29, 27 August 2009).

Cargill, Incorporated v Republic of Poland (Final Award) (ICSID Arbitral Tribunal, Case No ARB(AF)/04/2, 29 February 2008).

Consutel Group SPA in liquidazione v People's Democratic Republic of Algeria (Final Award) (Permanent Court of Arbitration, Case No 2017-33, 3 February 2020).

EDF International S A, SAUR International S A and León Participaciones Argentinas S A v Argentine Republic (Award) (ICSID Arbitral Tribunal, Case No ARB/03/23, 11 June 2012).

Emilio Agustín Maffezini v The Kingdom of Spain (Award) (ICSID Arbitral Tribunal, Case No ARB/97/7, 13 November 2000).

Emilio Agustín Maffezini v The Kingdom of Spain (Decision of the Tribunal on Objections to Jurisdiction) (ICSID Arbitral Tribunal, Case No ARB/97/7, 25 January 2000).

Hesham Talaat M Al-Warraq v The Republic of Indonesia (Final Award) (Ad Hoc Arbitration UNCITRAL, 15 December 2014).

Idris Yamantürk, Tevfik Yamantürk, Musfik Hamdi Yamantürk, and Güriş İnşaat ve Mühendislik A.Ş. (Guris Construction and Engineering Inc.) v Syrian Arab Republic (Final Award) (ICC Case No 21845/ZF/AYZ, 31 August 2020).

Juvel Ltd and Bithell Holdings Ltd v The Republic of Poland (Partial Final Award) (ICC Case No. 19459/MHM, 26 February 2019).

Krederi Ltd v Ukraine (Award) (ICSID Arbitral Tribunal, Case No ARB/14/17, 2 July 2018).

Methanex Corporation v United States of America (Final Award) (Ad hoc Arbitration UNCITRAL, 44 ILM 1345, 3 August 2005).

Michael Anthony Lee-Chin v Dominican Republic (Dissenting Opinion of Professor Marcelo Kohen) (ICSID Arbitral Tribunal, Case No UNCT/18/3, 15 July 2020).

Mr Franck Charles Arif v Republic of Moldova (Award) (ICSID Case No ARB/11/23, 8 April 2013).

NJSC Naftogaz of Ukraine, PJSC State Joint Stock Company Chornomornaftogaz, PJSC Ukrgasvydobuvannya and others v The Russian Federation (Award on Liability) (PCA Case No 2017-16, 22 February 2019).

Occidental Exploration and Production Company v Republic of Ecuador (I) (Award) (London Court of International Arbitration, LCIA Case No UN3467, 1 July 2004).

Parkerings-Compagniet AS v Republic of Lithuania (Award) (ICSID Arbitral Tribunal, Case No ARB/05/8, 11 September 2007).

Pope & Talbot v Government of Canada (Award on the Merits of Phase 2) (Ad hoc Arbitration UNCITRAL, 10 April 2001).

RosInvestCo UK Ltd v The Russian Federation (Award) (Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, Case No 079/2005, 12 September 2010).

RosInvestCo UK Ltd v The Russian Federation (Award on Jurisdiction) (Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, Case No 079/2005, 5 October 2007).

Sanum Investments v Lao People’s Democratic Republic (I) (Award on Jurisdiction) (Permanent Court of Arbitration, Case No 2013-13, 13 December 2013).

Siemens A G v The Argentine Republic (Decision on Jurisdiction) (ICSID Arbitral Tribunal, Case No ARB/02/8, 3 August 2004).

Spółdzielnia Pracy Muszynianka v Slovak Republic (Award) (Permanent Court of Arbitration, Case No 2017-08, 7 October 2020).

Thomas Gosling and others v Republic of Mauritius (Award) (ICSID Arbitral Tribunal, Case No ARB/16/32, 18 February 2020).

White Industries Australia Limited v The Republic of India (Final Award) (Ad hoc Arbitration UNCITRAL, 30 November 2011).


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International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council. WTO Disciplines and Biofuels: Opportunities and Constraints in the Creation of a Global Marketplace. Washington, DC: International Food & Agricultural Trade Policy Council, 2006.

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James Cardwell, Paul, and French, Duncan. “The European Union as a global investment partner: Law, policy and rhetoric in the attainment of development assistance and market liberalisation?.” In Evolution in Investment Treaty Law and Arbitration, edited by Chester Brown and Kate Miles, 201-222. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Kurtz, Jurgen. “Science as a Common Proxy for Rational Regulation Across International Trade and Investment Law.” In Science and Technology in International Economic Law: Balancing Competing Interests, edited by Bryan Mercurio and Kuei-Jung Ni, 134-154. New York: Routledge, 2014.

Lesniewska, Feja. “Renewable Energy Waste Management and the Circular Economy in the EU: Solar PV and Wind Power.” In Research Handbook on EU Energy Law and Policy, edited by Rafael Leal-Arcas and Jan Wouters, 460-68. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017.

P. Sauvant, Karl, and Reimer, Jennifer. FDI Perspectives: Issues in International Investment. New York: Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment, 2012.

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Racine, Jean-Baptiste, et al. European Contract Law-Materials for a Common Frame of Reference: terminology, Guiding Principles, Model Rules, eds. Bénédicte Fauvarque-Cosson and Denis Mazeaud. Munich: Sellier. European Law Publishers, 2008.

Sornarajah, M. The International Law on Foreign Investment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2021.

The World Bank Group and Asian Development Bank. Climate Risk Profile: Indonesia.Washington. DC: World Bank Publications, 2021.

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UNCTAD. State Contracts: UNCTAD Series on Issues in International Investment Agreements. Geneva: United Nations Publication, 2004.

W. Salacuse, Jeswald. The Law of Investment Treaties. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021.

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W. Schill, Stephan. The Multilateralization of International Investment Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Wilder Am, Martijn and Drake, Lauren. “International Law and the Renewable Energy Sector.” In The Oxford Handbook of International Climate Change Law, edited by Cinnamon P. Carlarne, Kevin R. Gray and Richard Tarasofsky, 357-390. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Wilke, Marie. Feed-in Tariffs for Renewable Energy and WTO Subsidy Rules: An Initial Legal Review. Geneva: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development 2011.

World Investment Report. Investing in a Low Carbon Economy. Geneva: United Nations Publication, 2010.

Journal Articles

Akefi Ghaziani, Moosa, and Akefi Ghaziani, Mohammad. “The Role of Expropriation Clauses in Protection and Promotion of Foreign Investments in Renewable Energy: An Essential but Overlooked Legal Consideration.” Indonesia Law Review 11, no. 2 (2021):191-215.

Bruce, Stuart. “International Law and Renewable Energy: Facilitating Sustainable Energy for All?.” Melbourne Journal of International Law 14, no. 1 (2013): 18-53.

Batifort, Simon, and Benton Heath, J. “The New Debate on the Interpretation of MFN Clauses in Investment Treaties: Putting the Brakes on Multilateralization.” The American Journal of International Law 111, no. 4 (2017): 873-913.

Boisson de Chazournes, Laurence. “International economic law and the quest for universality.” Leiden Journal of International Law 32, no. 3 (2019): 401–414.

Cho, Sungjoon, and Kurtz, Jurgen. “Convergence and Divergence in International Economic Law and Politics.” The European Journal of International Law 29, no. 1 (2018): 169-203.

D. Franck, Susan. “The Legitimacy Crisis in Investment Treaty Arbitration: Privatizing Public International Law Through Inconsistent Decisions.” Fordham Law Review 73, no. 4 (2005): 1521-1626.

Douglas, Zachary. “The MFN Clause in Investment Arbitration: Treaty interpretation Off the Rails.” Journal of International Dispute Settlement 2, no. 1 (2011): 97-113.

Dumberry, Patrick. “Has the Fair and Equitable Treatment Standard Become a Rule of Customary International Law?.” Journal of International Dispute Settlement 8, no. 1 (2016): 155-178.

Faruque, Abdullah. “Validity and Efficacy of Stabilisation Clauses: Legal Protection vs. Functional Value.” Journal of International Arbitration 23, no. 4 (2006): 317-336.

Jasiunas, Justinas, D. Lund, Peter, and Mikkola, Jani. “Energy System Resilience: A Review.” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 150, no. c (2021): 111476-93.

Komendantova, Nadejda, Schinkoa, Thomas, and Patt, Anthony. “De-risking Policies as a Substantial Determinant of Climate Change Mitigation Costs in Developing Countries: Case study of the Middle East and North African Region.” Energy Policy 127, (2019): 404-411.

Leal-Arcas, Rafael. “The Multilateralization of International Investment Law.” North Carolina Journal of International Law 35, no. 1 (2009): 33-136.

Matsushita, Mitsuo. “Basic Principles of the WTO and the Role of Competition Policy.” The Journal of World Investment & Trade 3, no. 4 (2002): 567-584.

Miljenić, Orsat. “Energy Charter Treaty: Standards of Investment Protection.” Croatian International Relations Review 24, no. 83 (2018), 24(83): 52-83.

N. Pronto, Arnold. “Understanding the Hard/Soft Distinction in International Law.” Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 48, no. 4 (2015): 941-956.

N. Skovgaard Poulsen, Lauge, and Aisbett, Emma. “When the claim hits: bilateral investment treaties and bounded rational learning.” World Politics 65, no. 2 (2013): 273-313.

Radi, Yannick. ”The Application of the Most-Favoured-Nation Clause to the Dispute Settlement Provisions of Bilateral Investment Treaties: Domesticating the ‘Trojan Horse’.” The European Journal of International Law 18, no. 4 (2007): 757-774.

Whitsitt, Elizabeth, and Bankes, Nigel. “The Evolution of International Investment Law and Its Application to the Energy Sector.” Alberta Law Review 51, no. 2 (2013): 207-247.

Tienhaara, Kyla, and Downie, Christian. “Risky Business? The Energy Charter Treaty, Renewable Energy, and Investor-State Disputes.” Global Governance 24, no. 3 (2018): 451-71.

Tienhaara, Kyla. “Unilateral Commitments to Investment Protection: Does the Promise of Stability Restrict Environmental Policy Development?.” Yearbook of International Environmental Law 17, (2008): 139-167.

W. Schill, Stephan. “Multilateralizing Investment Treaties Through Most-Favored-Nation Clauses.” Berkeley Journal of International Law 27, no. 2 (2009): 496-569.

Rietiker, Daniel. “The Principle of ‘Effectiveness’ in the Recent Jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights: Its Different Dimensions and Its Consistency with Public International Law – No Need for the Concept of Treaty Sui Generis,” Nordic Journal of International Law 79, no. 2 (2010): 245-77.

Šturma, Pavel. “Goodbye, Maffezini? On the Recent Developments of Most-Favoured-Nation Clause Interpretation in International Investment Law.” (2016) 15 The Law and Practice of International Courts and Tribunals 15, no.1 (2016): 81-101.

Tomoko, Yamashita. “Procedural and Normative Competition between the WTO’s Dispute Settlement and the Investor-State Arbitration: Focusing on the National Treatment Principle.” Public Policy Review 16, no. 5 (2020): 1-23.


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Brown, Chester, Ortino, Federico, and Arato, Julian. “Lack of Consistency and Coherence in the Interpretation of Legal Issues.” EJIL: Talk!. Last modified April 5, 2019. https://www.ejiltalk.org/lack-of-consistency-and-coherence-in-the-interpretation-of-legal-issues/.

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