Telecom Italia's case against Bolivia at a secretive World Bank tribunal, ICSID, heralds an increasingly pro-corporate approach against southern countries under the aegis of the EU's Global Europe project.
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
Civil society organisations meeting in the People’s Social Summit in Lima denounce the recent decision of ETI and Telecom Italia this month to demand that the New York State Court freeze the accounts of the National Telecommunications Company (ENTEL) as part of a strategy of aggression against the government of Bolivia.
Signing international investment treaties, in the hope of attracting foreign investments, has been a central strategy for governments looking to improve economic development. The less known side of this story is that by signing investment treaties, governments are giving away the sovereign right to regulate in the interest of people and the environment. They also expose themselves to the risk of spending millions in law suits that could have been used to serve public needs. It’s time that the dark side of investment is put under the spotlight.
In November 2011, Brussels was the stage for a 'Week of Action' which looked to expose the threat of Bilateral Investment Treaties to democratic governance and public interest and to advocate for an Alternative Investment Regime.
The U.S. and India should not sign a treaty that will only serve the short-term interests of large corporations, and undermine the authority of governments to protect their people from financial crisis.
On 22 April, government representatives from Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, St. Vincent and Grenadine, Venezuela, Argentina, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico met in Guayaquil (Ecuador) for the 1st Ministerial Meeting of the Latin American States affected by transnational interests.
Between 20 and 21 September 2011, 40 ASEAN campaigners and experts met in Manila to share knowledge and experiences, articulate common strategies and discuss alternatives to the current investment regime.
Harold Liversage, the Land Tenure Adviser for the International Fund for Agricultural Development argues that responsible investment in agriculture is possible if voluntary guidelines are backed up by an empowered civil society.