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.
On 16 May, Ecuador became the fifth country to terminate all its Bilateral investment treaties (BIT). Why did it make this decision? TNI researcher Cecilia Olivet, and president of the Ecuadorian Citizens Commission that audited the country’s investment protection treaties, shares her insider perspective.
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.
Investment protection and investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms are perhaps the most contentious aspects of TTIP and CETA. These mechanisms provide foreign investors with the right to sue the EU or its Member States in private tribunals over potential losses in profit due to current or new public welfare regulations.
Civil society from Myanmar and the European Union are calling for the suspension of negotiations for an investment protection agreement between the EU and Myanmar until the European Court of Justice has ruled on the compatibility of the controversial Investment Court System (ICS) dispute settlement mechanism, with the EU Treaties.
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.
The European Commission recently issued two papers to address growing concerns among civil society and the wider general public over inclusion of the increasingly controversial investor-state dispute settlement mechanism (ISDS) in the EU-US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Protection agreement (TTIP). The Seattle to Brussels Network responds to the arguments and the Commission’s proposals to amend the flaws in the ISDS system.
Signing international investment treaties, in the hope of attracting foreign investments, has been a central strategy for governments looking to improve economic development. The less known side of this story is that by signing investment treaties, governments are giving away the sovereign right to regulate in the interest of people and the environment. They also expose themselves to the risk of spending millions in law suits that could have been used to serve public needs. It’s time that the dark side of investment is put under the spotlight.
Gus Van Harten discusses specific cases of investor-to-state arbitration to highlight what are the key problems with international investment treaties. How developing countries are being impacted by investment disputes and what the role is of lawyers and experts in promoting a growing international arbitration industry.
Between 20 and 21 September 2011, 40 ASEAN campaigners and experts met in Manila to share knowledge and experiences, articulate common strategies and discuss alternatives to the current investment regime.
Pietje Vervest is an economic anthropologist. She has specialised in the European Union's trade and investment agenda and in the international investment regime.
At TNI she coordinates the Economic Justice Programme and the Myanmar in Focus Programme, is part of the Coordination Group of the Seattle to Brussels network and is the European anchor of the Asia-Europe People's Forum.