As governments take action to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent economic collapse, big law firms are watching the virus too. Yet their concern is not to save lives or the economy. Instead the lawyers urge big business to challenge emergency measures in order to defend their profits. In a parallel corporate justice system called ISDS, states could face multi-million dollar lawsuits.
Cecilia Olivet, Lucía Bárcena, Bettina Müller, Luciana Ghiotto, Sara Murawski
20 April 2020
The fact that we are marking the 1000th ISDS claim in the middle of a profound social and economic crisis should be a wake-up call. Just as the pandemic is revealing profound health inequities and the dangers of agroindustrial food systems, it is also showing the dangers of trade and investment systems that put corporate profits above health and life.
The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the global economy is unprecedented. Whereas much of the attention is currently focused on the US, Europe and China, there are increasingly serious worries about the consequences for Latin America and Africa. The poor and vulnerable, mainly concentrated in the Global South1 and dependent on the huge informal sector, suffer the worst from crises. The Corona-crisis will not be an exception; unless swift, coordinated and unorthodox measures are taken.
The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) has been exposed as the fossil fuel industry's powerful secret weapon to keep cooking the planet. It is now 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. This briefing unpacks the risks for developing countries and the empty promises of those pushing for new countries to join.
The Corporation is capitalism's preeminent institution, dominating our economy, distorting our politics and reshaping society. TNI's ninth flagship State of Power report delves deep into the changing nature of the corporation in a time of digitalisation and financialisation and asks how we might best confront its power and construct alternatives.
By the end of August 2019, African States had been hit by a total of 106 known investment treaty arbitration claims. This represents 11% of all known investor-state disputes worldwide. Between 2013 and 2018, there has been an unprecedented boom of claims against African governments. During these last six years, they received more investor claims than the previous 20 years combined. This paper exposes how the international investment regime affects African countries.
The climate crisis is a manifestation of the systemic, capitalist crisis. We demand governments tackle the climate crisis by ending corporate power, facilitated by the trade and investment regime, that has long destroyed livelihoods and communities.
This corporate impunity has led to the wholesale looting of the biosphere, authoritarian responses and worsening social, political and environmental conflicts, particularly in the Global South.
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.
The Transnational Institute (TNI) in the Netherlands is issuing an open call for essays, accessible papers, infographics and artistic collaborations for its forthcoming State of Power report launched in late January 2020 to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos. The focus for our ninth annual edition is on 'The Corporation'.
This report focuses on the significant threats to precautionary environmental, labour, consumer and public health policy from regulatory cooperation and “good regulatory practices” chapters within the EU-Canada Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), US–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA), and the currently parked EU-U.S Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
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.
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 world's investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) system faces the largest crisis in its history. Why is the European Commission rejecting the justified criticism that can be found all over the world?
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.