Azernoosh Bazrafkan | Iran   PhD, International Law | University of Antwerp, Belgium

Azernoosh is a dedicated 32-year-old pursuing her PhD in Globalization and International Economic Law at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. Originally from the Islamic Republic of Iran, Azernoosh was born into a society that had just gone through a revolution and radical change in government. 

She finds it important that women in the society enjoy equal opportunities. Equal opportunities to enter higher education and in turn and subsequently access to the labour market. Azernoosh’s success and progression through higher education is a testament to the power and influence of women to stand up for their rights and their demand to be treated as equals. 

She has a passion for research, international relations, international economic law, and development. Azernoosh has been able to pursue her passion as she researches and writes her PhD dissertation on Globalization and International Economic Law. Her research relates specifically to International investment agreements (IIAs), which are agreements designed to protect foreign investment against interferences from the host state, such as uncompensated expropriation, and discriminatory or arbitrary treatment. 

IIAs allow investors to bring claims for violations of IIAs against host states to international investment arbitral tribunals. Therefore, IIAs are claimed to promote and liberalize foreign direct investment through their protective effect. Proponents suggest that IIAs benefit developing countries as the country’s agreement to be bound by the treaties’ obligations leads to potential increased investments. 

However, whether IIAs actually make a difference to investment flows and economic development is contested. Small, poor, developing economies are likely to be left behind. Research also indicates that the capacity of developing countries to benefit from foreign investments also depends significantly on the country’s legal and leadership structures.

Receiving this scholarship allows Azernoosh to analyze the link between international investment agreements and good governance reform in developing countries. Her research contributes to the on-going debate and yet unanswered question of whether developing countries derive socio-economic benefits from IIAs.

by Marissa Pura