Calvo Doctrine

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Calvo Doctrine

The Calvo Doctrine was a principle of international law developed by the Argentine diplomat and legal scholar Carlos Calvo (1822–1906). The doctrine states that the authority to settle international investment disputes resides in the government of the country in which that investment is located. The doctrine was based on two key principles: the equality of the rights of foreign and domestic investors and the sovereignty of the Latin American states. The doctrine was first articulated in Calvo's Derecho internacional teórico y práctico de Europa y América (International law: Theory and practice in Europe and America), published in Paris in 1868. Ironically, he developed the doctrine largely in response to France's imperialist adventure in México (1861–1867), which outraged Pan-Americanist intellectuals across the region.

With the establishment of Latin America's nationalist-populist governments of the 1930s and 1940s Calvo's doctrine was incorporated into numerous political constitutions and civil codes. As a legal instrument, the Calvo Clause (as the applied doctrine became known) guided most Latin American states' attitudes toward international investment arbitration until the 1970s. But with the neoliberal turn of the 1980s Latin American governments abandoned the Calvo Clause in favor of multilateral conventions on international commercial arbitration. Given the region's current reversal of many neoliberal policies, however, it may be too soon to dismiss the relevance of the Calvo Doctrine to Latin America affairs.

See alsoArgentina: The Nineteenth Century; Calvo, Carlos; Drago, Luis María; Neoliberalism; Pan-Americanism.


Bishop, R. Doak, and James E. Etri. "International Commercial Arbitration in South America." King & Spalding, LLP. Available from

Calvo, Carlos. La doctrine de Monroe. Paris: A. Eyméoud, 1903.

Calvo, Carlos. La República del Paraguay y sus relaciones exteriors: Una página de derecho internacional, 2nd ed. Asunción: Editorial Araverá, 1985.

Shea, Donald Richard. The Calvo Clause: A Problem of Inter-American and International Law and Diplomacy. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1955.

                                      James A. Wood

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Calvo Doctrine

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