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     *Columbia FDI Perspectives*

Perspectives on topical foreign direct investment issues by
the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment
No. 127  August 4, 2014
Editor-in-Chief: Karl P. Sauvant ([log in to unmask])
Managing Editor: Shawn Lim ([log in to unmask])

*ICSID, public opinion and the effect of (hypothetical) elite messaging*
Alexandra Guisinger and Alisha Anderson* <#147a27dd7f623c9a__edn1>

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) has
emerged as a powerful actor within the field of inter-state investment
arbitration. However, as with other international institutions, its
existence depends on continued acceptance by domestic actors.

Relative to other international institutions, ICSID receives little public
discussion, is largely unknown to voters and is absent from public opinion
research. The Pew Research Center has tracked American support for free
trade agreements and the policies of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
since 1997 (spoiler alert: excepting the 2007-2008 period, more Americans
think such agreements are good but around one-fifth have no opinion), and
since 2008, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs has tracked American
support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) (68-70% of Americans
think the US should participate). This *Perspective* presents the first
broad poll of the American public on ICSID and the results of a survey
experiment on information provision.

As part of the 2012 Cooperative Congressional Election Study, 1,000
individuals were asked nine foreign policy questions, including questions
about support for the WTO, the ICC and ICSID.[1] <#147a27dd7f623c9a__edn2>
Approximately a quarter of the sample received a control version consisting
of a brief introduction and the question concerning support for ICSID.

“[ICSID] was established in 1965 to facilitate the settlement of disputes
between countries and foreign investors. Use of ICSID courts is voluntary
but binding when a provision for ICSID arbitration is written into
investment contracts. Should U.S. citizens and corporations be subject to
international court rulings from the ICSID?”
Less than a third (32%) expressed support for ICSID, with 28% directly
rejecting the idea that US citizens and corporations should be subject to
ICSID rulings. Despite the relative obscurity of ICSID, less than 40%
answered “Don’t know.” However, averages obscure a strong partisan divide.
Disaggregation by partisan self-identification reveals much stronger
support by Democrats (46% “Yes” versus 21% “No”) and rejection by
Republicans (19% “Yes” versus 41% “No”). Independents fell in between and
were more likely to respond “Don’t know” (46%).

 “Every opinion is a marriage of information and predisposition.”[2]
<#147a27dd7f623c9a__edn3> Given the limited information provided in the
question prompt, responses may correlate more strongly with predispositions
than a considered opinion on the question at hand. Republicans are
generally less supportive of US involvement in international organizations
and may be responding simply to that aspect of the question. Given the
institution’s obscurity, respondents’ preferences may be relatively weak
and responsive to additional information.

To isolate and understand how opinions would differ given more discussion
of ICSID’s role, the remaining respondent pool received additional
information concerning the economic benefits of ICSID, as well as the
actors that helped establish ICSID. The establishment process was
attributed to one of three randomly assigned groups: bipartisan
Congressional action, Congressional Democrats and Congressional Republicans.

*“To dispel any concern that ICSID awards would be overridden in the U.S.
court system, [**Congress enacted, on a bipartisan basis | Congressional
Democrats helped to enact | Congressional Republicans helped to enact**], a
statute obligating U.S. courts to give ICSID awards "the same full faith
and credit" as if the award was a judgment of a court in the United States.
Ensuring compliance with ICSID awards reduces uncertainty for foreign
companies. This agreement to abide by common rules makes the U.S. more
competitive for foreign direct investment dollars, which create jobs in the
United States. Should U.S. citizens and corporations be subject to
international court rulings from the ICSID?”*

The bipartisan message generated a 6% increase in support for ICSID, but
was the only treatment to increase support. Close examination of partisan
responses suggests that party politics remain active. Democrats responded
positively to the bipartisan message (+11%), but neither Independents nor
Republicans were similarly moved. In fact, the slight gains in support for
ICSID among Independents and Republicans (4% and 2%, respectively) were
more than offset by increased rejection of ICSID (5% and 6%, respectively).

Both the Democratic and Republican messages resulted in countervailing
effects from partisans. The Democratic message diminished rejection of
ICSID among Democrats by 11%, but the same message increased rejection of
ICSID among Republicans and Independents. Similarly, the Republican message
increased support for ICSID by 11% among Republicans, but served simply to
increase uncertainty among Democrats. “Don’t know” responses from Democrats
rose by 17%. In contrast, the additional information provided in all the
treatments declined the percent of Independents answering “Don’t know”, but
served to equally increase Independents’ support and rejection of ICSID.
Partisan reaction to even the bipartisan message complicates the impact of
attempting to move opinion.
As it stands, support for ICSID falls behind both that of the WTO and the
ICC. Raising ICSID from obscurity could increase support, but only if
discussions remain politically neutral. Whether other framings of ICSID’s
benefits—transparency, third party objectivity, US investors’ protection
from foreign courts—would be more broadly effective remains an open


* <#147a27dd7f623c9a__ednref1> Alexandra Guisinger ([log in to unmask]) is
Assistant Professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame;
Alisha Anderson ([log in to unmask]) is a senior at the University of Notre
Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. The authors are grateful to three
anonymous peer reviewers for their helpful comments. *The views expressed
by the authors of this **Perspective** do not necessarily reflect the
opinions of Columbia University or its partners and supporters. **Columbia
FDI Perspectives** (ISSN 2158-3579) is a peer-reviewed series.*

[1] <#147a27dd7f623c9a__ednref2> Alexandra Guisinger and Elizabeth
Saunders, “Mapping the boundaries of elite cues: How elites shape mass
opinion across international issues,” ISA Annual Meeting, March 2014.

[2] <#147a27dd7f623c9a__ednref3> John Zaller, *The Nature and Origins of
Mass Opinion* (Cambridge: CUP, 1992), p. 6.

*The material in this Perspective may be reprinted if accompanied by the
following acknowledgment: “Alexandra Guisinger and Alisha Anderson, ‘ICSID,
public opinion and the effect of (hypothetical) elite messaging,’
Columbia FDI Perspectives, No. 127, August 4, 2014. Reprinted with
permission from the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
( <>).” A copy should
kindly be sent to the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment at
[log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>.*

For further information, including information regarding submission to the
*Perspectives*, please contact: Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment,
Shawn Lim, [log in to unmask] or [log in to unmask]

The Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), a joint center of
Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is a
leading applied research center and forum dedicated to the study, practice
and discussion of sustainable international investment. Our mission is to
develop and disseminate practical approaches and solutions, as well as to
analyze topical policy-oriented issues, in order to maximize the impact of
international investment for sustainable development. The Center undertakes
its mission through interdisciplinary research, advisory projects,
multi-stakeholder dialogue, educational programs, and the development of
resources and tools. For more information, visit us at

*Most recent Columbia FDI Perspectives*

   - No. 126, Lise Johnson, “The Transparency Rules and Transparency
   Convention: A good start and model for broader reform in investor-state
   arbitration,” July 21, 2014.
   - No. 125, Anna De Luca, “Withdrawing incentives to attract FDI: Can
   host countries put the genie back into the bottle?” July 7, 2014.
   - No. 124, Rafael Tamayo-Álvarez, Maria Alejandra Gonzalez-Perez and
   Juan David Rodriguez-Rios, “How to enhance labor provisions in IIAs,” June
   23, 2014.
   - No. 123, James Nicholson and John Gaffney, “Cost allocation in
   investment arbitration: Forward toward incentivization,” June 9, 2014.
   - No. 122, Miguel Pérez Ludeña, “The rise of FDI income, and what it
   means for the balance of payments of developing countries,” May 26, 2014.

*All previous **FDI Perspectives** are available at
<>**. *

Karl P. Sauvant, Ph.D.
Resident Senior Fellow
Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment
Columbia Law School - Earth Institute
Columbia University
435 West 116th Street, Rm. JGH 645
New York, NY 10027
Ph: (212) 854-0689
Fax: (212) 854-7946

Please visit our website -

For Karl P. Sauvant and Federico Ortino, *Improving the International
Investment Law and Policy Regime: Options for the Future*, and Karl P.
Sauvant and Victor Zitian Chen, "China's regulatory framework for outward
foreign direct investment,"*China Economic Journal*, vol. 7 (2014), pp.
141-163, see the Center's website.

*Copyright © 2014 Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), All
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