Document Type : Article


1 Assistant Prof., Department of Public and International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Tehran (Farabi College), Qom, Iran

2 Ph.D Student in International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran



Longstanding disputes over general principles of law as enumerated in Article 38 of the ICJ Statute has led some to consider these principles as an independent source of international law while others reduce their function to mere gap-filling in non-liquet situations. Nevertheless, international investment law and investor-state arbitrations have proved to be a fertile ground for the influence of general principles. This seeming evolution of the role and functions of general principles as regards international investment law is the subject of this paper.


  1.  English

    1. A) Books
    2. Begic, Taida (2005), Applicable Law in International Investment Disputes, Utrecht: Eleven International Publishing.
    3. Cattan, Henry (1967), The Law of Oil Concessions in the Middle East and North Africa, New York: Oceana Publications.
    4. Saeed Al-Otaiba, Mana (1982), The Petroleum Concession Agreements of The United Arab Emirates (1939-1981 Abu Dhabi), Vol. 1, 1939-1971, London: Croom Helm.
    5. Schreuer, Christoph H. (2009), The ICSID Convention: A Commentary, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.
    6. Sornarajah, Muthucumaraswamy (2010), The International Law on Foreign Investment, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    7. Tuson, Penelope and Quick, Emma (1992), Arabian Treaties, Vol. 2 (1600-1960), London: Archive Editions.


    1. B) Articles
    2. Crook, John R. (1989), “Applicable Law in International Arbitration: The Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal Experience”, American Journal of International Law, Vol. 83, No. 2, , pp. 278-311.
    3. D’aspremont, Jean (2018), “What Was not Meant to be: General Principles of Law as a Source of International Law”, in: Riccardo Pisillo Mazzeschi and Pasquale De Sena (eds.), Global Justice, Human Rights and the Modernization of International Law, Springer, pp. 163-184.
    4. Hanessian, Grant (1989), “General Principles of Law in the Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal”, Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 309-352.
    5. Hirsch, Moshe (2012), “Sources of International Investment Law”, in: Andrea K. Bjorklund, and August Reinisch (eds.), International Law and Soft Law, Edward Elgar, pp. 9-38.
    6. Juratowitch, Ben and Shaerf, James (2019). “Unjust Enrichment as a Primary Rule of International Law”, in: Mads Andenas et al (eds.), General Principles and the Coherence of International Law, Brill/Nijhoff, pp. 227-246.
    7. Lalive, Jean-Flavien (1964), “Contracts between a State or a State Agency and a Foreign Company”, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 3, pp. 987-1021.
    8. McNAir, Arnold (1957), “General Principles of Law recognized by Civilized Nations”, British Yearbook of International Law, XXXIII, pp. 1-19.
    9. Mosler, Hermann (1984). “General Principles of Law”, in: Rudolf Bernhardt (ed.), Encyclopedia of Public International Law, Vol. 7, North-Holland Publishing Company, pp. 89-104.
    10. Nitish Monebhurrun (2015), “Gold Reserve Inc. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela: Enshrining Legitimate Expectations as a General Principle of International Law”, Journal of International Arbitration, Vol. 32, No, 5, pp. 551-562.
    11. Nussbaum, Arthur (1951), “The Arbitration between The Lena Goldfields, Ltd. And The Soviet Government”, Cornell Law Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 1, pp. 31-53.
    12. Ostřanský, Josef (2018), “An Exercise in Equivocation: A Critique of Legitimate Expectation as a General Principle of Law under the Fair and Equitable Treatment Standard”, in: Andrea Gattini, Attila Tanzi and Filippo Fontanelli (eds.), General Principles of Law and Investment Arbitration, Brill Nijhoff, pp. 344-477.
    13. Potestà, Michele (2013), “Legitimate Expectations in Investment Treaty Law: Understanding the Roots and the Limits of a Controversial Concept”, ICSID Review - Foreign Investment Law Journal, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 88-122.
    14. Rajput, Aniruddha & Malhotra, Sarthak (2019), “Legitimate Expectations in Investment Arbitration: A Comparative Perspective”, in: Mahendra Singh and Niraj Kumar (eds.), the Indian Yearbook of Comparative Law 2018, Springer, pp. 297-318.
    15. Roberts, Anthea & Sivakumaran, Sandesh (2018), “Theory and Reality of the Sources of International Law”, in: Malcolm Evans (ed.), International Law, Oxford University Press, pp. 89-132.
    16. Schill, Stephen (2012), “General Principles of Law and International Investment Law”, in: Tarcisio Gazzini, and Eric De Brabandere (eds.), International Investment Law, Brill/Nijhoff, pp. 133-181.
    17. Snodgrass, Elizabeth (2006), “Protecting Investor’s Legitimate Expectations: Recognizing and Delimiting a General Principle”, ICSID Review - Foreign Investment Law Journal, Vol. 21, Issue. 1, pp. 1-58.
    18. Tunkin, G. I. (1975), “International Law in International System”, in: Collected Courses of The Hague Academy of International Law, Vol. 147, Brill, pp. 1-218.
    19. Wolfrum, Rüdiger (2012),”General International Law (Principles, Rules and Standards)”, in: Rüdiger Wolfrum (ed.), Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law (Online), Oxford University Press.


    1. C) Documents
    2. International Law Commission (2019), “First Report on General Principles of Law (A/CN.4/732)”, by the Special Rapporteur Marcelo Vázquez-Bermúdez.
    3. International Law Commission (2020), “Second Report on General Principles of Law (A/CN.4/741)”, by the Special Rapporteur Marcelo Vázquez-Bermúdez.


    1. D) Awards
    2. CMS Gas Transmission Company v The Argentine Republic, Award, ICSID Case No. ARB/01/8, 12 May 2005, para. 274.
    3. Gold Reserve Inc. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/09/1, 22 September 2014.
    4. Inceysa Vallisoletana, S.L. v. Republic of El Salvador, ICSID Case No. ARB/03/26, August 2, 2006.
    5. International Thunderbird Gaming Corporation v The United Mexican States, UNCITRAL Award, 26 January 2006.
    6. International Thunderbird Gaming Corporation v The United Mexican States, Award, 26 January 2006, Separate Opinion of Thomas Wälde, para. 27.
    7. Ltd. Benvenuti et Bonfant srl. v The Government of the People's Republic of the Congo, Award, ICSID Case No. ARB/77/2, 8 August 1980.
    8. Merrill and Ring Forestry L.P. v. Canada, ICSID Case No. UNCT/07/1, 31 March 2010.
    9. Metalclad Corporation v The United Mexican States, Award, ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/97/1, 30 August 2000 (A).
    10. MTD Equity Sdn Bhd., MTD Chile S.A. v Republic of Chile, Award, ICSID Case No. ARB/01/7, 25 May 2004.
    11. Sea-Land Service, Inc. v The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ports and Shipping Organization, Award, IUSCT Case No. 33 (135-33-1), 22 June 1984.
    12. Total S.A. v The Argentine Republic, Decision on Liability, ICSID Case No. ARB/04/1, 27 December 2010.
    13. Waste Management v. United Mexican States (II) ICSID Case No. ARB(AF)/00/3, 27 Sept 2000 (B).


    References in Persian:

    1. A) Books
    2. Dolzer, Rudolf & Schreuer, Christoph (2014), Principles of International Investment Law, Translated to Persian by: Zamani, Seyed Ghasem and Hasibi, Behazin, Tehran: Shahr-e Danesh (In Persian).
    3. National Iranian Oil Company (1951), Asnad-e Naft [Oil Documents], Tehran: Edarey-e Kol-e Entesharet-e Sherkat-e Melli-e Naft-e Iran (In Persian).
    4. Piran, Hossein (2014), The Law of International Investment, Tehran: Ganj-e Danesh (In Persian).


    B( Articles

    1. Aminzadeh, Elham & Alizadeh, Masoud (2013), “Genera Principles of Law and the State Sovereignty: Contribution of a forgotten Source in Construction of International Law”, Private Law Studies Quarterly, series. 43, No. 1, pp. 155-171 (In Persian).
    2. Bahmaei, Mohammad Ali & Taghavi, Najmeh (2017), “The Foundations of the Legitimate Expectations in International Investment Law”, Comparative Law Review, Vol. 8, Issue. 2, pp. 475-497 (In Persian).
    3. Zarei, Mohammad Hossein & Behnia, Masih (2012), “Reflections on the Application of Legitimate Expectation Principle in Administrative Court of Justice, Rahbord, Vol. 20, No. 61, pp. 153-189 (In Persian).