International investment law has undergone a remarkable transformation in a relatively short time. The fundamental tool for effecting that transformation has been the bilateral investment treaty (“BIT”), an international legal instrument through which two countries set down rules that will govern investments by their respective nationals in the other’s territory. From 1959 to 2002, nearly 2200 individual BITs were formed, making the BIT one of the most widely used types of international agreement for protecting and influencing foreign investment.
As the twenty-first century begins, the time has come to evaluate whether BITs have achieved their objectives. To answer this question, Part II examines the historical movement to form BITs. Part III explores the goals motivating BITs, namely foreign investment protection, market liberalization, and foreign investment promotion. The three succeeding Parts assess the success of BITs in achieving each of these goals. Finally, Part VII concludes by considering the implications of the BIT movement for the further development of international investment law.