In the volatile and fragile context of Myanmar's nascent democratic reform, investment protection treaties must not be allowed to negatively affect processes that would make Myanmar more peaceful and democratic.
Lora Verheecke, Pia Eberhardt, Cecilia Olivet, Sam Cossar-Gilbert
24 June 2019
Multi-billion dollar lawsuits bleeding cash-strapped nations, corporations reversing victories by environmental defenders and dazzling financial rewards for investors who perpetrated human rights abuses. Ten investor-state lawsuits which have been filed, threatened or decided since 2015, from all over the globe (in Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America), demonstrate that ISDS is again and again used as a corporate weapon against the public interest. This report exposes the true nature of the ISDS regime through 10 recent stories.
How fair is the investment arbitration system in Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) countries? Are investor-state disputes balanced between national and corporate interests? LAC countries are among the most affected by the investment arbitration system, representing 28.6% of all known investor-state disputes around the world. In particular, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru account for 77.3% of the total number of claims against LAC countries. Analysis shows that the system so far heavily favours corporate interests. Investors have won in 70% of the cases brought against LAC countries. As a result, LAC States have already had to pay foreign companies 20.6 billion USD, which could cover Bolivia’s budget for health and education for four whole years.
248 pages of leaked documents confirm concerns: In a misguided effort to conclude one of the most ambitious trade deals ever, negotiators are arguing away hard-won health, workplace, food, farming and environmental safeguards, while pushing power further from electorates, citizens and regulators, and deeper into the hands of businesses, corporations and interest groups.
This week, representatives of around 100 countries are meeting in New York to talk about investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). ISDS is a legal instrument that multinationals can use to sue governments for billions. External experts and observers fear that the new negotiations will amount to ‘old wine in new bottles’. They believe that those who benefit from this instrument (powerful states and top lawyers from the ISDS sector) are controlling the debate.
Climate change action demands moving to an energy system based on renewables and leaving fossil fuels in the ground. International investment agreements, and particularly ISDS, stand in the way of energy transition. They limit the ability of governments to set the terms of their energy policy, including the support of renewable energy. Investment agreements such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) will further empower corporations to challenge strong government action on climate change
This statement has been developed jointly by Indonesian and European civil society organisations, who believe that an EU-Indonesia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) must first of all be approached as a means to serve the public interest.