ICSID registered a record number of new cases in 2020 under its procedural rules for resolving international investment disputes and administered a record number of cases under other rules, including the arbitration rules of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

In 2020, ICSID registered 54 cases under the ICSID Convention Arbitration Rules, three under the Additional Facility Rules, and one under the ICSID Convention Conciliation Rules. In addition, the Centre administered 22 investor-State disputes under other sets of the rules—the majority (17 cases) applying the UNCITRAL Rules. 

As in previous years, the majority of new ICSID cases invoked a bilateral investment treaty as the basis of consent to ICSID jurisdiction (60%). Investment contracts between the host State and foreign investor accounted for 10% and the Energy Charter Treaty for 9% of new cases. Notably, the Establishment and Consular Convention between Switzerland and Italy, the Free Trade Agreement between Colombia and El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, and the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement were invoked as the basis of consent for the first time at ICSID. 

The largest share of cases registered in 2020 involved States in Eastern Europe and Central Asia (28%), followed by South America (17%) and Sub-Saharan Africa (12%). Central America and the Caribbean, and Western Europe each accounted for 10%, while the Middle East and North Africa, and South and East Asia and the Pacific accounted for 9% of new cases, respectively. Five percent of new cases involved States in North America. 

Four States—Benin, Denmark, Norway and Switzerland—had their first cases at ICSID in 2020. 

The majority of new cases involved the oil, gas and mining sector (26%) and construction (17%). These were followed by disputes related to electric power and other energy sources (15%); information and communication (12%); finance (9%); transportation (5%); tourism (3%); agriculture, fishing and forestry (2%); services and trade (2%); and water, sanitation and flood protection (2%). A mix of other industries accounted for the remaining 7% of cases registered in 2020.

In-line with previous years, the outcome of cases was balanced between States and investors in 2020. Among cases decided by tribunals, 41% upheld claims in part or in full, 45% dismissed all claims, 10% declined jurisdiction, and 4% found the claims were manifestly without legal merit.

For a number of years, ICSID has also tracked data related to the gender and nationality of individuals appointed to ICSID cases, as a means to help benchmark diversity in the field of investor-State dispute settlement. Overall, women accounted for 23% of appointments in 2020—an improvement over the 19% in 2019. Over 40 different nationalities were represented amongst the arbitrators, conciliators and ad-hoc committee members appointed in the last year. 

For further information, see The ICSID Caseload – Statistics (Issue 2021 – 1).