On the surface, the two books under review seem to have little in common. The Bonnitcha/Poulsen/Waibel (BPW) book, written by two legal academics and a political scientist, provides a balanced, fact-grounded account of international investment agreements (IIAs) and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). This is the “international treaty regime” in that book's title which the authors argue needs to be distinguished from the broader “international regime complex” that their book explicitly does not address, namely the number of other international instruments that at least incidentally also protect foreign investments (including, for example, political risk insurance, tax treaties, certain World Trade Organization agreements, and certain human rights treaties like the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR)) (p. 7 and Figure 1.2). As one of the encomiums on its back cover page suggests, the BPW book seeks to answer the fraught competing contentions of defenders and critics of the regime that all too frequently generate “more heat than light.” Their book dispassionately synthesizes the available legal, economic, and political literature relevant to understanding the investment treaty regime's oft-proclaimed “legitimacy crisis.” It seeks to supply lawyers needing political context and political scientists needing legal knowledge with the unfiltered facts required to assess whether such a “crisis” exists and, if so, what the ways forward might be.
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