May 16, 2022

2022 Davis Wright Tremaine International Law Writing Competition Winners Announced

The International Law Committee announced the winners of the 2022 Davis Wright Tremaine LLP International Law Writing Awards this month.

Established through the generosity of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, the Davis Wright Tremaine International Law Writing award program provides stipends to the authors of the best research papers written in the past year by Lewis & Clark JD students on topics in private or public international law, comparative law, or the law of a foreign nation. The author of the first place paper receives $2,500 and the author of the second place paper receives $1,000.

This year’s winners are:

First Place: Zachary Pavlik, Leveraging Foreign Investments to Support Climate Change Adaptation in the Global South: Certifying Climate-Nexus Investments and Conditioning Protection in International Investment Agreements.

Second Place: Akriti Bhargava, The Urgent Need for Climate-Related Risk Disclosures in India’s Energy Industry.

Both papers coincidentally examine issues related to climate change: a hot topic in recent years for both researchers and policy makers. There were many other excellent papers submitted to the competition, which explored such issues as human rights abuses in the apparel industry, potential modifications to the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling, accountability for war crimes, and reform of investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms, among others.

Zach’s paper highlights the risk that certain types of foreign investments can exacerbate climate change and proposes a novel certification scheme for such investments. He argues that international investment agreements should condition their substantive protections on the investor’s compliance with climate-related sustainability goals, as established through a host-state screening process. Professor George Foster, who supervised Zach’s paper, praised it for the quality of writing and depth of research, as well as for its innovative thesis. “There is no shortage of proposals for regulating foreign investment and re-drafting IIAs, but Zach’s stands out for its originality,” he said. “Conditioning treaty protections on compliance with a sustainability-oriented certification scheme is an under-explored but promising possibility.”

Akriti’s paper explores tensions between India’s recent ramping up of privatization and investment in natural gas infrastructure and the global temperature goals established in the Paris Agreement. It also undertakes a comparison of climate-related risk disclosure requirements for companies in the UK, US, and India, ultimately contending that India should impose more stringent disclosure guidelines and requirements, as the UK has and as the US has recently proposed. Professor Lisa Benjamin, who supervised the paper, commented on its importance in the global energy transition. “Akriti’s paper is so timely and tackles a very difficult topic: how to enable energy transitions and stimulate low-carbon financial flows and economic investment while ensuring energy and climate equity in the global South. This area is under-researched, but vitally important and India is a key global player. Akriti’s paper tackles this complex and challenging issue with academic rigor and sensitivity.”

Lewis & Clark Law is grateful to Davis Wright Tremaine LLP for the firm’s ongoing support for this writing competition.