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.
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.
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.
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.