A small club of international law firms, arbitrators and financial speculators are fuelling an investment arbitration boom that is costing taxpayers billions of dollars and preventing legislation in the public interest.
Corporations in Western Europe are suing Central and Eastern European countries at international arbitration tribunals through a vast web of intra-EU Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs). Yet while the European Commission has questioned the validity of these BITs, Netherlands, Germany, and the UK, oppose their termination.
On 22 April, government representatives from Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, St. Vincent and Grenadine, Venezuela, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico met in Guayaquil (Ecuador) for the 1st Ministerial Meeting of the Latin American States affected by transnational interests.
This briefing analyses leaked proposals for so-called investor-state dispute settlement under the proposed EU-US deal and reveals a determined lobby campaign from industry lobby groups and law firms to grant unprecedented rights to corporations to sue governments for legislation and regulations that interfere with their profits.
The proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) between the EU and the US will open the floodgate to multi-million Euro lawsuits from corporations challenging democratic policies to protect the environment and public health, argues a new briefing by Corporate Europe Observatory and the Transnational Institute.
The case of Newmont Mining vs Indonesia is a powerful example of how investment agreements are used by companies to get exemptions from government regulations and legislation, undermining democracy and development.
Cecilia Olivet, Jaybee Garganera, Farah Sevilla, Joseph Purugganan
24 May 2016
Mining firms have been one of the main corporate sectors worldwide to take advantage of investor-state dispute mechanisms to sue states for regulation of mining, having sued governments for a total of USD 53 billion so far. The Philippines, one of five countries worldwide with the highest overall mineral reserves, has a web of investment treaties which severely constrain the government's ability to regulate or close polluting mines. This legal straitjacket will become even tighter if the EU–Philippines Free Trade Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) proceed.
The EU and Mexico launch negotiations for a ‘modernised’ Free Trade Agreement. A key feature is the investment protection chapter which grants major multinational companies in Mexico and the EU the exclusive right to challenge democratic decisions taken by States, even when they were taken in the public interest. The report outlines six reasons of major concern.
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.