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Georgetown Law Library

International Investment Law Research Guide

This guide features resources on international investment law, in general, and investor-state arbitration, in particular.

Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs)

Table of Contents


Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) establish the terms and conditions for private investments made by individuals and business entities from one sovereign state in another sovereign state.  BITs are often negotiated as part of a larger trade agreement between the contracting states.

BITs grant investors from a contracting state certain guarantees, including "fair and equitable treatment," protection from expropriation, and the free transfer of funds. In addition, they provide investors recourse to arbitration, often under the auspices of ICSID, to resolve disputes with the host state.

Listed below are resources for accessing the full texts of bilateral investment treaties.  BITs usually are drafted in the official language(s) of one or both of the contracting states.  Sometimes the contracting states agree to draft the treaty in a neutral language, such as English.  Note that BITs drafted in languages other than English may not be available in English translation.

Print & Free Electronic Resources

  • U.S. Trade and Related Agreements Database
    Maintained by the Office of Trade Agreements Negotiations and Compliance within the U.S. Department of Commerce, this database provides access to the texts of all U.S. BITs currently in force.
  • UNCTAD International Investment Agreements Navigator
    The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) maintains the most comprehensive free online database of investment treaties.  Use the menu on the left side of the screen to select a country.  After the page refreshes, you will see a list of BITs to which that country is a party displayed in reverse chronological order.  (Click on the "Parties" column to sort the list alphabetically by treaty partner.)  An Advanced Search option and Country Navigator with a mapping tool also are available.  For each BIT, UNCTAD provides information about its current status, date of signature, and date of entry into force.  In almost all cases, a link to the full text of the treaty also is provided.
  • ICSID Database of Bilateral Investment Treaties
    ICSID's database provides basic information about each BIT, such as the date of signature and the date of entry into force, but it does not provide links to the full texts of BITS.  Search or browse by party (country) or browse by year of signature.  Not quite as comprehensive as UNCTAD's International Investment Agreements Navigator, but still an excellent free resource.
  • Investment Promotion and Protection Treaties.  Call No. K1112 .A49 .I58 (updated every four months)
    This 13-volume loose-leaf set, compiled by ICSID, includes the full texts of investment treaties and protocols concluded by more than 165 countries from 1959 to the present. Treaties are provided in their original languages. The final volume includes complete alphabetical and chronological indexes.

Subscription Electronic Resources

  • Investment Claims
    From the purple menu bar at the top of the homepage, click on "Content Type" and select "bilateral investment treaties." Then filter the results by state party. The full text of each BIT in its original language is provided and may be downloaded in PDF format.  A brief English language summary ("comment") is included before the full text of each treaty. For commentary on investment treaty practices in a specific jurisdiction, including model investment treaties, select "Investment Treaty Overviews" as the Content Type. Then filter the results by jurisdiction.
  • Investor-State Law Guide
    Click on the "Treaties & Rules" tab in the upper right-hand corner of the homepage. Then scroll down for an alphabetical listing of BITs by country name. The full text links redirect to the UNCTAD database. Note, however, that the coverage is not as comprehensive as UNCTAD's.
  • Kluwer Arbitration
    Click on the white triangle to the left of the search box to display the pre-search filters.  Select BITs as the Content Type. The select the desired jurisdiction to display a list of BITs for that country.  For each BIT, Kluwer provides the date of signature, the date of entry into force, and, in most cases, a link to the full text. Note that Kluwer's database includes some BITs that are no longer in force.
  • Transnational Dispute Management (TDM)
    From the "Legal & Regulatory Docs" tab, click on "Search."  Then scroll down and look for the link to the Advanced Search template. Select "International Treaties & Related Instruments" as the Category. Select the desired country before searching. BITs may be downloaded in PDF format.
  • Westlaw
    Westlaw's BIT database covers the period from 1993-present.  When searching, be sure to include the name of at least one state party.  BITs are available for download in PDF format.  Some English translations are provided, but most treaties are in their original language(s).