For around 13 years, on the Dutch Trade and Investment Board (a body that is not familiar to most of the Dutch public) top civil servants and company lobbyists have been discussing how the government can support the country’s international trade. Minutes reveal how lobbyists and ministers collaborated in reforming fiscal and development policies in favour of private interests. It’s an example of the power of ‘quiet politics’ of company lobbyists in the Netherlands, calling into question the country’s image as an exemplar of liberal, consensual corporatism.
The Transnational Institute (TNI) in the Netherlands is issuing an open call for essays, short papers, infographics and artistic collaborations for its forthcoming State of Power report launched in late January 2019 to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos. In 2019, we are particularly looking for accessible, engaging essays and artistic explorations that explore the issue of finance and power.
We know what we have to do to solve the climate crisis. We must keep coal, oil and gas in the ground. But the fossil fuel industry has a secret powerful weapon to keep cooking the planet: The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). It is on the brink of a massive geographical expansion into Africa, Asia and Latin America, threatening to bind yet more countries to corporate-friendly energy policies. Visit: www.energy-charter-dirty-secrets.org
What drives the negotiations for an Indonesia-Europe Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) in relation to investment? What would be the merits of the alternative investment protection frameworks as proposed by Indonesia? Will it be more effective in promoting a more equitable and sustainable development?
Social organisations and movements, communities affected by the operations of transnational corporations, and others fighting for social and environmental justice around the world, will be in Geneva from October 23-26. This will be the third time the Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity mobilises for the establishment of a United Nations (UN) treaty to impose on states and corporations international obligations to guarantee access to justice for affected communities, groups and individuals whose human rights have been violated by transnational corporations.
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.
The Ecuadorian Citizens’ Commission for a Comprehensive Audit of Investment Protection Treaties and of the International Arbitration System on Investments (CAITISA) was set up by the Ecuadorian goverment to audit the country's investment treaties and make recommendations to the government.
The commission was comprised of government officials, academics, lawyers and civil society groups, including the foremost expert on investment law, Muthucumaraswamy Sornarajah and the former Attorney General for Argentina, Osvaldo Guglielmino. Our own TNI researcher Cecilia Olivet was nominated president.
In May 2017, the Commission's report was published and its recommendations to terminate the country's Bilateral Investment Treaties accepted by the government.
Projects protecting Jakarta against floods are likely to damage the environment and could threaten the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people. The Dutch government, supporting these projects, should question how it balances its interest in supporting Dutch companies with its stated policies of sustainable and inclusive development.
Transnational Institute (TNI), Institute for Policy Studies
25 January 2017
The Institute for Policy Studies and Transnational Institute welcome the Dutch trade minister’s call for a reset of trade negotiations to better link the trade and investment agenda to equitable and sustainable development objectives. At the same time, we urge all stakeholders involved in the EU-Mexico FTA negotiations to replace the current far-reaching liberalisation and deregulation agenda with an agreement that regulates investment in accordance with human rights, social standards, environmental protection, climate conservation and other sustainable development objectives as overriding principles. Read the letter, which includes our concerns and recommendations, below:
In both TTIP and CETA food, agriculture, animal husbandry and horticulture play a major role and the prospects for European farmers and consumers are not good. TTIP negotiators are discussing abolishing or lowering import tariffs for agricultural products and the mutual recognition of each others’ standards relating to environment, animal welfare, food safety and labour rights is on the agenda.
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.
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.
Important decisions on the European-Canadian free trade agreement CETA will shortly be taken on EU institutional and Member State level. On this occasion, Canadian and European experts of civil society shed light on the most controversial aspects of the agreement. They conclude that CETA in its present form threathens public welfare on both sides of the Atlantic, referring among other areas to investor-state dispute settlement, agriculture and energy policy.