To tackle the climate crisis we need to keep fossil fuels in the ground. But governments that phase out coal, end gas production, or stop oil pipelines can be sued by corporations in private courts and be held liable for billions in damages. How? Under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT). It is now up to European governments and the European Commission to pull out of the anti-climate ECT and stop its expansion to even more countries. Take action today to make this happen!
Peru, Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia and Guatemala are just some of the Latin American countries being hit by the investment protection regime in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Foreign investors are threatening to bring claims before international arbitration tribunals due to the measures states are taking to mitigate the effects of the pandemic. Arbitrators are refusing to accept states’ requests to postpone ongoing arbitration cases and are obliging governments to disburse millions to investors at a time when public funds are required for more urgent priorities. Once again, the current crisis reveals the perverse consequences of the investor-state dispute settlement system and the urgent need to break free from it.
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 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 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.
A surprising concern has arisen recently on Wall Street: markets are becoming socialist. The culprit is passive investing, the use of quasi-automated vehicles that provide access to broad stock indexes with minimal cost and effort. The rush into such products – and the decline in human stock-picking – recalls, to some, a form of socialism.
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.
Nick Buxton interviewed the renowned sociologist Saskia Sassen towards the end of 2018. For our State of Power 2019 report, we were keen to explore two themes with her. First, how finance has changed the nature of cities today and second, how finance has fuelled new forms of expulsions and dispossession. The interview concludes with a discussion of the fractures in the power of 'high finance' and how citizens' movements might take advantage to advance democratic control.
During September 2011, three years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, public anger with the Great Financial Crisis boiled over right where it all started: Wall Street. The austerity measures taken in response to the crisis and the failure to hold bankers to account led a large group of activists to ‘occupy Wall Street’.
Artworks make great speculative assets. Buyers share a common interest in keeping their prices high and, to avoid paying import and other taxes, the wealthiest use free ports to store their works: despite changing owner, some works are never unpacked, simply shifting from one assets balance sheet to another.
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.
This weekend, the European Commission announced that the negotiations with Mexico to "modernise" their Free Trade Agreement have been concluded. A key feature of the “modernisation” process is the inclusion of a controversial investment protection chapter with the same characteristics as the one recently included in the Canada-EU trade agreement (CETA).
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.
As Ecuador’s new president, Lenin Moreno Garcés, gave his inaugural speech to the National Assembly members, and a number of invited Latin American presidents, an important question is what will change after the ten-year incumbency of his predecessor, Rafael Correa.
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.