Public international law’s turn to judicialisation in the last three decades has led to more attention paid to remedies, including of monetary character, in inter-State dispute settlement as well as in tribunals open to non-State actors. In the last five years or so, a more discreet phenomenon of successful 1+ billion USD claims has emerged. I will address it under the rubric of ‘mega-awards’, in line with the terminology reportedly used by States in the UNCITRAL Working Group III meeting this October. A few recent examples from different international tribunals will illustrate my point. Last September, Albania allocated 1.2 billion EUR for execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. This July, an investor-State dispute settlement tribunal rendered a 6 billion USD award against Pakistan, the second mega-award against the particular respondent since 2017. In the International Court of Justice, it seems likely that the claim for compensation in Armed Activities on the Territory of Congo (DRC v Uganda), which was scheduled to be argued in the week of 18 November (now postponed), could involve comparable amounts, in light of the Court’s findings on the merits. In short, mega-awards are, if not quite mundane, certainly not exceptional in contemporary international law, generated in different fields of international law as part of general dispute settlement practice and with very significant effects on many respondent States. I propose to discuss their place in the framework of rules and institutions of international law, with an eye to whether it is helpful to treat them as a separate juridical category that calls for particularly attuned legal solutions.
Dr Martins Paparinskis is Reader in Public International Law at UCL Laws. He is a generalist international lawyer with a particular interest in international dispute settlement, State responsibility, and international investment law. Martins’ publications include a monograph with OUP, articles with British Year Book of International Law and European Journal of International Law, and a co-authored chapter on State responsibility in the forthcoming 10th edition of OUP’s Oppenheim: Peace. Martins is the book review editor of Journal of World Investment and Trade, a co-editor of Current Legal Problems, and a member of the editorial board of UCL Press. His appointments include ICSID Panel of Arbitrators, Permanent Court of Arbitration, management board of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, implementation committee of the UNECE Water Convention, and the OSCE Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.
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