While the rule of law was originally developed with reference to domestic constitutional orders, it is also widely embraced by international lawyers. This essay argues that the admission of counterclaims in certain circumstances helps investment arbitration advance the rule of law on several counts. The rule of law is defined here to include not only formal elements such as rule-by-law and formal legality, but also “thicker” elements attached to certain substantive values, including fundamental human rights. The UN's work on the rule of law clearly adopts a broad interpretation of this concept. This essay examines the potential for counterclaims to bridge the gap between the lack of effective mechanisms to hold foreign investors accountable for their conduct and the extensive protection of foreign investors in international investment law. By doing so, counterclaims in investment arbitration may promote the thicker elements of the rule of law such as accountability to the law, access to justice, and fairness in the application of the law.
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