Petition protesting Telecom Italia's case against Bolivia at World Bank tribunal, ICSID

21 Marzo 2008
Article

The letter below and updated petition was delivered on 20 March 2008 to World Bank President Zoellick and ICSID General Secretary Ana Palacio and to contacts for ETI and their lawyers, Telefonica, Telecom Italia, World Bank external affairs, and the ICSID secretariat. For background information see Global campaign against anti-democratic investment rules


Robert B.

The letter below and updated petition was delivered on 20 March 2008 to World Bank President Zoellick and ICSID General Secretary Ana Palacio and to contacts for ETI and their lawyers, Telefonica, Telecom Italia, World Bank external affairs, and the ICSID secretariat. For background information see Global campaign against anti-democratic investment rules


Robert B. Zoellick March 20, 2008 President World Bank 1818 H Street, NW Washington, DC 20433 RE: ICSID Transition and Bolivia* Dear Mr. Zoellick: On January 15, 2008, representatives of 863 civil society organizations in 59 countries delivered a letter addressed to you regarding the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and its refusal to respect the Bolivian government’s decision to withdraw from the ICSID convention. Since that time, additional groups have added their names to this petition, for a total of 898 groups from 60 countries. This updated petition is attached. While we are disappointed by your failure to respond to the January 15 petition, we are encouraged by the fact that the controversial ICSID case that was the subject of the petition has not moved forward. According to your web site, as of March 20, a tribunal had not been constituted in the case of Euro Telecom International v. Republic of Bolivia. The impending ICSID leadership transition, with current Secretary General Ana Palacio stepping down on April 15, offers an important opportunity to demonstrate respect for Bolivian sovereignty. We recommend that you, as Chair of the ICSID Administrative Council, issue a public statement supporting the Bolivian government’s May 2, 2007 withdrawal of consent to allow ICSID to arbitrate disputes arising from investments in its territory and clarifying that the ETI case will not go forward. Allowing this case to remain on the ICSID docket, even if there is no change in its status, will do little to counter the view that this is a system which undermines national sovereignty in favor of the interests of private corporations and international investors. We believe that this case—which aims to overrule under private commercial law a legitimate decision made under Bolivian public law—puts at risk the whole credibility of the World Bank group, which has repeatedly stated in the context of its conditionality review that it is not willing to impose its views on developing country governments if there is no ownership and support by these governments and their population, in particular as concerns economic policy matters. As the outpouring of support for the January petition shows, civil society groups from around the world are increasingly concerned about the role of ICSID (and the investment treaties and trade agreements it enforces) in undermining democracy as well as social, economic, and human rights. We thank you for your attention to this serious matter. Sincerely, Sarah Anderson, Institute for Policy Studies, United States, saraha@igc.org Antonio Tricarico, Campagna per la riforma della banca mondiale (CRBM), Italy, atricarico@crbm.org Jim Shultz, The Democracy Center, Bolivia, jimshultz@democracyctr.org Mónica Vargas, Xarxa de l'Observatori del Deute en la Globalització, Spanish State, monica.vargas@odg.cat Tom Kucharz, Ecologistas en Acción, Spanish State, agroecologia@ecologistasenaccion.org Brid Brennan, Transnational Institute, The Netherlands, bridbrennan@tni.org Peter Noordendorp, Humanist Movement, The Netherlands, PeterNoordendorp@cs.com Marjolein van de Water, XminY Solidariteitsfonds, The Netherlands, mvdw@xminy.nl Daniel Rodríguez, Jovenes x la no-violencia, Bolivia, danielcuac@gmail.com Humberto Melgar, Escuela de la no-violencia, Bolivia, humesal@gmail.com cc: Ana Palacio, ICSID Secretary-General, Nassib G. Ziadé, ICSID Deputy Secretary-General, Franco Bernabè, CEO, Telecom Italia S.p.A., César Alierta Izuel, CEO, Spanish Telefónica Encl: January 15 petition, updated (PDF)