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Investor-State Attacks: Empowering Foreign Corporations to Bypass our Courts, Challenge Basic Protections

Among the most dangerous but least known parts of today's "trade" agreements are extraordinary new rights and privileges granted to foreign corporations and investors that formally prioritize corporate rights over the right of governments to regulate and the sovereign right of nations to govern their own affairs. These terms empower individual foreign corporations to skirt domestic courts and directly challenge any policy or action of a sovereign government before World Bank and UN tribunals.

Comprised of three private attorneys, the extrajudicial tribunals are authorized to order unlimited sums of taxpayer compensation for health, environmental, financial and other public interest policies seen as frustrating the corporations' expectations. The amount is based on the "expected future profits" the tribunal surmises that the corporation would have earned in the absence of the public policy it is attacking. There is no outside appeal. Many of these attorneys rotate between acting as tribunal "judges" and as the lawyers launching cases against the government on behalf of the corporations. Under this system, foreign corporations are provided greater rights than domestic firms.

This extreme "investor-state" system already has been included in a series of U.S. "trade" deals, forcing taxpayers to hand more than $440 million to corporations for toxics bans, land-use rules, regulatory permits, water and timber policies and more. Under a similar pact, a tribunal recently ordered payment of more than $2 billion to a multinational oil firm. Just under U.S. deals, more than $34 billion remains pending in corporate claims against medicine patent policies, pollution cleanup requirements, climate and energy laws, and other public interest policies. Continue reading...


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Featured Cases



Eli Lilly: A Right to
Medicine Monopolies?

Chevron: Evading
Justice for Amazon Devastation?

Oxy: Taxpayers Owe $2 Billion


Renco: Evading
Justice for Toxic
Pollution?

Loewen: Domestic
Court Rulings Attacked

RDC: An Obligation
to Honor Corporate Expectations?


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