Karl Sauvant

Lecturer in Law

Karl Sauvant

Lecturer in Law

Karl P. Sauvant joined Columbia Law School as a Lecturer-in- Law in 2006, teaching Foreign Direct Investment and Public Policy. He is also a Resident Senior Fellow at the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), a fellow at the Academy of International Business, an honorary fellow at the European International Business Academy, a guest professor at Nankai University in China, and theme leader of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development/World Economic Forum Task Force on Investment Policy.

Sauvant was the founding executive director of the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment (CCSI’s predecessor) where he sought to make the VCC a leading forum for discussions by scholars, policymakers, development advocates, students, and other stakeholders regarding issues related to foreign direct investment in the global economy and the regulatory framework governing it, focusing particularly on the contribution of FDI to sustainable development. He teaches a seminar on FDI and public policy, and has published widely in the international investment area. Sauvant was previously the co-director of the Millennium Cities Initiative at the Earth Institute, responsible for helping African cities attract investment.

A German national, Sauvant has served as director of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development's Investment Division, managing the division and promoting international consensus-building in the areas of FDI, technology and enterprise development, providing intellectual leadership for policy-oriented research, and conceptualizing and supervising technical assistance activities. He joined the United Nations in 1973, where he created the prestigious annual World Investment Report, of which he was the lead author until 2004. Sauvant is founder of the journal Transnational Corporations and served as its editor until 2005. He provided intellectual leadership and guidance to a series of 25 monographs on key issues related to international investment agreements, and he edited the 20-volume Library on Transnational Corporations (with Dr. John H. Dunning, Routeledge), 2004, 2005.

Sauvant received a Ph.D. degree from the University of Pennsylvania.

  • Ph.D., International Relations, University of Pennsylvania, 1975
  • Summer Institute for Social Research, The University of Michigan (Program of the Inter-University Consortium for Political Research), 1972
  • M.A., International Relations, University of Pennsylvania, 1969

  • Zwischenprüfung (B.A. equivalent), Political Science, Freie Universität Berlin, 1966-1968

Areas of Expertise

Foreign direct investment

Policy issues related to the international investment regime

Professional Experience
  • 2012-Present: Senior Resident Fellow at the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI), formerly the Vale Columbia Center on Sustainable International Investment (VCC), joint centers of Columbia Law School and the Earth Institute at Columbia University.

  • 2014-2015: Theme Leader of the International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development/World Economic Forum Task Force on Investment Policy.
  • 2006-February 2012: Founder and Executive Director of the Columbia Program on International Investment (CPII – established in January 2006), which became, in May 2008, the VCC
  • 2006-September 2011: Co-Director, Millennium Cities Initiative, headed by Jeffrey D. Sachs. 
  • 2001-2005: Director, Division on Investment, Technology and Enterprise Development, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Responsible for the overall direction and management of UNCTAD’s Programme on Investment, Technology and Enterprise Development. Specifically, responsibilities included: Strategic management; Intellectual leadership in the field of investment; technical assistance; and promoting international consensus building.


  • 1988-2000: Acting Assistant Director, Assistant Director, Chief of Branch, Research and Policy Analysis Branch, in charge of the UNCTC’s/UNCTAD’s FDI research program. Founder and editor of Transnational Corporations (formerly The CTC Reporter). Founder and Team Leader of the World Investment Report. Responsible for numerous studies, including the 20-volume United Nations Library on Transnational Corporations (published by Routledge), as well as some technical assistance programs, and servicing of intergovernmental bodies.
  • 1985-1988: Chief, Office of the Executive Director, UNCTC.
  • 1973-1975: Associate Economic Affairs OfficerCentre for Development Planning, Projections and Policies, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations Secretariat, New York. Contributed to the studies (including Multinational Corporations in World Development) and meetings that led to the establishment of the United Nations Commission on Transnational Corporations and the Programme on Transnational Corporations, and belonged to the nucleus of the newly created United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations (UNCTC).


Joachim W. Müller and Karl P. Sauvant, eds., Annual Review of United Nations Affairs (New York: Oxford University Press), 1988-1993 with Kumiko Matsuura and Joachim W. Müller; 2003-2017 with Joachim W. Müller.

Karl P. Sauvant and Federico Ortino, eds., Improving the International Investment Law and Policy Regime: Options for the Future (Helsinki: Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, 2013). 

Karl P. Sauvant, ed., Yearbook on International Investment Law and Policy, 2011-2012 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

Karl P. Sauvant, Lisa Sachs and Wouter Schmit-Jongbloed, eds., Sovereign Investment: Concerns and Policy Reactions (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012).

Jose E. Alvarez and Karl P. Sauvant, with Kamil Gerard Ahmed and Gabriela del P. Vizcaino, eds., The Evolving International Investment Regime: Expectations, Realities, Options (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011).

Karl P. Sauvant, ed., Investing in the United States: Is the US Ready for FDI from China? (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2010).

Karl P. Sauvant and Lisa Sachs, eds., The Effect of Treaties on Foreign Direct Investment: Bilateral Investment Treaties, Double Taxation Treaties and Investment Flows (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).

Karl P. Sauvant with Michael Chiswick-Patterson, eds., Appeals Mechanism in International Investment Disputes (New York: Oxford University Press, 2008).

Karl P. Sauvant with Kristin Mendoza and Irmak Ince, eds., The Rise of Transnational Corporations from Emerging Markets: Threat or Opportunity? (Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2008).

Laza Kekic and Karl P. Sauvant, eds., World Investment Prospects to 2011: Foreign Direct Investment and the Challenge of Political Risk (London: The Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd., 2007).

Articles and papers:

Karl P. Sauvant, “A New Challenge for Emerging Markets: The Need to Develop an Outward FDI Policy,” Columbia FDI Perspective, no. 203 (3 July 2017), available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2997770.

Karl P. Sauvant and Howard Mann, “Towards an Indicative List of FDI Sustainability Characteristics” (Geneva: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development and the World Economic Forum, 2017), available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3055961.

Karl P. Sauvant and Mevelyn Ong, with Katherine Alejandra Lama and Thor Petersen, “The Rise of Self-Judging Essential Security Interest Clauses in International Investment Agreements,” Columbia FDI Perspectives, No. 188 (5 December 2016), available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2881703.

Karl P. Sauvant, “The Next Step in Governance: The Need for Global Micro-Regulatory Frameworks in the Context of Expanding International Production,” in Tina C. Ambros, ed., Research in Global Strategic Management (Bingley, UK: Emerald, 2016), available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2810355.

Karl P. Sauvant, “China, the G20 and the International Investment Regime”, in Andrea Goldstein and Alessia Amighini, eds., Towards the 2016 G20: Global Analyses and Challenges for the Chinese Presidency, special issue of China and the World Economy, vol. 24, No. 4 (2016), pp. 73-92, available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2789827.

Karl P. Sauvant on behalf of the E15 Task Force on Investment Policy, “The Evolving International Investment Law and Policy Regime: Ways Forward. E15 Task Force on Investment Policy – Policy Options Paper” (Geneva: International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development and World Economic Forum, E15 Initiative, 2016), available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2722949. 

Karl P. Sauvant and Michael D. Nolan, "China's Outward Foreign Direct Investment and International Investment Law", Journal of International Economic Law, vol. 18, no. 4 (Nov. 2015), pp. 893-934, available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2798114.

Karl P. Sauvant and Padma Mallampally, “Policy Options for Promoting Foreign Direct Investment in the Least Developed Countries,” Transnational Corporations Review, vol. 7 (September 2015), pp, 237-268.

Karl P. Sauvant, "The Negotiations of the United Nations Code of Conduct on Transnational Corporations: Experience and Lessons Learned,” Journal of World Investment and Trade, vol. 16 (2015), pp. 11-87, available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2991265.

Karl P. Sauvant, "We Need an International Support Programme for Sustainable Investment Facilitation,” Columbia FDI Perspectives, no. 151 (6 July 2015), available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2896212.

Karl P. Sauvant, Persephone Economou, Ksenia Gal, Shawn Lim, and Witold P. Wilinski, "Trends in FDI, Home Country Measures and Competitive Neutrality,” in Andrea K. Bjorklund, ed., Yearbook on International Investment Law & Policy 2012-2013 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 3-107, available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2814307.

Karl P. Sauvant and Victor Zitian Chen, "China's Regulatory Framework for Outward Foreign Direct Investment,” China Economic Journal, vol. 7, issue 1 (2014), pp. 141-163, available at https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2740684.

Activities and Affiliations

Member, Consulting Editors Board, Journal of International Business Policy

Senior Fellow, International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development

Short-Term Visiting Professor at Bocconi University, Milan (Italy), April-May 2010.

Taught a seminar course on Foreign Direct Investment and Public Policy at Nankai University, Tianjin (China), May-June 2010.

Elected a Fellow of the Academy of International Business, 2011.

Honorary Distinguished European International Business Academy Fellow of the Year Award, 2006.

Chalfen Memorial Lecture, British Institute of International and Comparative Law, London, 27 April 2006.

Named Guest Professor, Nankai University (China), and Honorary Chair of the University’s Centre on Transnational Corporations, 2003.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Columbia FDI Perspectives, 2008-present.

Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Columbia FDI Profiles, 2009-2013.

Founder and Editor (of the first four volumes), Yearbook on International Investment Law and Policy, published by Oxford University Press, 2008-2012.

Expert witness, Hearing before the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, One Hundred Twelfth Congress, First Session, March 30, 2011, on “Chinese State-Owned Enterprises and U.S.-China Bilateral Investment,” Washington, D.C.

Senior Advisor, Investment Advisory Committee, China International Investment Council (formerly the China Federation of Investment Promotion Agencies), 2002-2010.

Founder and Editor of the journal Transnational Corporations, 1992-2005

Founder and Team Leader, World Investment Report, 1991-2004.

Expert witness, Hearings on “Ziele und Inhalte zukünftiger Investitionsabkommen,” Austrian Parliament, 6 October 2004.

Expert witness, Hearings on “Foreign Direct Investment” of the Joint Economic Committee of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 13 May 1992.

S. Foreign Direct Investment and Public Policy