Investor–State Dispute Settlement Cases Pass the 1,000 Mark: Cases ​and Outcomes in 2019

The IIA Issues Note "Investor–State Dispute Settlement Cases Pass the 1,000 Mark: Cases and Outcomes in 2019” (No. 2, July 2020) provides an overview of known treaty-based investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) cases initiated in the past year and overall ISDS case outcomes.


  • As of 1 January 2020, the total number of known treaty-based ISDS cases had reached 1,023. To date, 120 countries and one economic grouping are known to have been respondents to one or more ISDS claims.
  • At least 55 known ISDS cases were initiated pursuant to international investment agreements (IIAs) in 2019, all under old-generation treaties signed before 2012.
  • The new ISDS cases in 2019 were initiated against 36 countries and one economic grouping (the European Union). As in previous years, the majority of new cases were brought against developing countries and transition economies. Developed-country investors brought most of the 55 known cases.

More recently, concerns have been expressed that there could be an increase of ISDS cases in relation to government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. UNCTAD’s Special Investment Policy Monitor (No. 4) and the World Investment Report 2020 (chapter III) review investment policy responses to the pandemic and highlight the need to safeguard sufficient regulatory space in IIAs to protect public health and to minimize the risk of ISDS proceedings.

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