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Brendan Vickers, Director of Research and Policy for South Africa's Department of Trade and Industry, discusses alternatives to the investor-state system.
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Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) Attacks: Empowering Multinational Corporations to Attack our Domestic Laws, Demand Taxpayer Compensation

At the heart of today's "trade" agreements are provisions that grant multinational corporations extraordinary new rights and powers. This system – called Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) – empowers individual foreign corporations to skirt domestic courts and sue governments before a panel of three corporate lawyers.

ISDS cases are decided by tribunals composed of three corporate lawyers that are authorized to order governments to pay unlimited sums of taxpayer money to corporations that claim our domestic laws or government decisions violate special new rights provided in ISDS agreements. Payments include what the three corporate lawyers deciding the case surmise are the "expected future profits" that the corporation would have earned in the absence of the public policy it is attacking. There is no outside appeal. Many of these lawyers rotate between acting as tribunal "judges" and as the lawyers launching cases against the government on behalf of the corporations. Under ISDS, multinational corporations are provided greater rights than residents of the countries signing these ISDS agreements or domestic firms.

This extreme ISDS system already has been included in a series of U.S. "trade" deals, forcing taxpayers to hand more than $440 million to corporations that have successfully attacked toxics bans, land-use rules, regulatory permits, water and timber policies and more. Under one pact, a tribunal ordered payment of more than $1.4 billion to a multinational oil firm after it violated the terms of its contract with the Ecuadorian government to explore for oil in the Amazon. Just under U.S. deals, more than $70 billion remains pending in corporate claims against climate and energy laws, medicine patent policies, pollution cleanup requirements, and other public interest policies we rely on to protect the environment, our health, safety and financial stability. Continue reading...


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