The Indirect Expropriation Clause Clarified in Recent Colombian BITs


  • Milcar Jeff Dorce Center for European and International Research and Documentation


Over the past two decades, Caribbean states have been faced with a significant number of investment arbitration proceedings in which investors have claimed that public interest regulatory measures constitute indirect expropriations of foreign investment. As a result, arbitral tribunals have ordered host states to pay heavy compensation to foreign investors. To preserve its right to regulate in the public interest, Colombia has clarified the indirect expropriation clause in most of its recent international investment agreements, clarifying the extent to which a public interest regulation that affects foreign investment constitutes an indirect expropriation. This article seeks to determine to what extent the new clauses of the Colombian agreements contribute to preserving the state’s right to regulate in the public interest.


Colombia, Bilateral Investment Treaty, Free Trade Agreement, Investor-State arbitration, Indirect expropriation


Anthony, Yvette. "The Evolution of Indirect Expropriation Clauses: Lessons from Singapore's BITs/FTAs". Asian Journal of International Law 7, nº 2 (2017): 319-336.

Bungenberg, Marc et al. International Investment Law. Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2013.

Kriebaum, Ursula et al. Principles of International Investment Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022.

Giupponi, Belén Olmos. Trade Agreements, Investment Protection and Dispute Settlement in Latin America. Leiden: Kluwer Law International, 2019.

Henckels, Caroline. "Protecting Regulatory Autonomy Through Greater Precision in Investment Treaties: The TPP, CETA, and TTIP". Journal International Economic Law 19, nº 1 (March 2016): 27-50.

Herz, John H. "Expropriation of Foreign Property". American Journal International Law 35, (1941): 243-251.

Koivumaeki, Riitta-Ilona. "Evading the constraints of globalization: oil and gas nationalization in Venezuela and Bolivia". Comparative Politics 48, nº 1 (October 2015): 107-125.

Korzun, Vera. "The right to regulate in investor-state arbitration: Slicing and dicing regulatory carve-outs". Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law Journal 50, nº 2 (March 2017): 355-414.

Portefield, Matthew C. "State practice and the (purpoted) obligation under customary international law to provide compensation for regulatory expropriations". North Carolina Journal International Law & Commercial Regulation, 37, nº 1 (2011-2012): 159-194.

Ranjan, Prabhash. "Using the public law concept of proportionality to balance investment protection with regulation in international investment law: A critical appraisal". Cambridge International Law Journal 3, nº 3 (January 2014): 853-883.

Ranjan, Prabhash. "COVID-19, India and Indirect Expropriation: Is the Police Powers Doctrine a Reliable Defence?". Contemporary Asia Arbitration Journal 13, (2020): 205-227.

Segger, Marie-Claire Cordonier, Gehring Markus and Newcombe Andrew. Sustainable Development in World Investment Law. Alphen aan den Rijn: Wolters Kluwer, 2010.

Sloane, Robert D. and W. Michael Reisman. "Indirect Expropriation and its Valuation in the BIT Generation". British Yearbook of International Law 75, (2004): 115-146.

Titi, Catharine. "Police Powers Doctrine and International Investment Law". In General Principles of Law and International Investment Arbitration, edited by Andrea Gattini, Attila Tanzi, and Filippo Fontanelli, 323-343. Leyden: Brill, 2018.

Zhu, Ying. "Do clarified indirect expropriation clauses in international investment treaties preserve environmental regulatory space". Harvard International Law Journal 60, nº 2 (Summer 2019): 377-416.

International regulation and arbitral awards

Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union - Colombia BIT, 2009, art. IX.

Biwater Gauff, Ltd c. Tanzanie, ICSID Case No. ARB/05/22, award of july 24, 2008.

CAFTA, 2004, annex 10-C.

Chemtura c. Canada, NAFTA Arbitral tribunal, 2010, §266.

China-Colombia BIT, 2008.

Colombia - Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union BIT, 2009.

Colombia- Republic of Korea BIT, 2010.

Colombia-France BIT, 2014.

Colombia-India BIT, 2009.

Colombia-Peru BIT, 2007.

Colombia-Republic of Korea FTA, 2013.

Colombia-Singapore BIT, 2013.

Colombia-Spain BIT, 2021.

Colombia-Turkey BIT, 2014.

Colombia-United Arab Emirates BIT, 2017.

Colombia-United Kingdom BIT, 2010.

Constitutional Court of Colombia, sentence C-252 of 2019.

El Paso Energy International Company v Argentina, ICSID Case No. ARB/03/15, award, October 27, 2011.

Gold Reserve Inc. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/09/01, Award of the Tribunal, Sept. 22, 2014.

Reinisch, International Investment Law (pp. 959-1027). Baden Baden: Nomos.

LG&E v. Republic of Argentina, ICSID Case No. ARB/02/1, Decision on Liability of 3 October 2006.

Marvin Feldman v Mexico, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/99/1, award of December 16, 2002.

Metalclad c. Mexique, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/97/1, Award, August 30, 2000.

Methanex c. United States of America, NAFTA Tribunal, Final award on Jurisdiction and Merits, August 3, 2005.

Philip Morris Brands Sarl Philip Morris Products S.A. and Abal Hermanos S.A. v. Oriental Republic of Uruguay, ICSID Case No. ARB/10/17, Award, July 8, 2016. (s.d.).

Santa Elena v Costa Rica, ICSID Case No. ARB/96/1, award of february 17, 2000, §72.

Suez Societad General de Aguas de Barcelona S.A. and Vivendi Universal S.A. c. Argentine, ICSID Case No. ARB/03/19, award of july 30, 2010.

Tecmed v Mexico, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/00/2, award, May 29, 2003.

UNCITRAL, Partial award of 17 March 2006.

UNCTAD. (2012). Expropriation: A Sequel. New York, Geneva: United Nations.

UNCTAD. (2017). World Investment Report 2017.