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investor-state disputes | ISDS

Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) refers to a way of handling conflicts under international investment agreements whereby companies from one party are allowed to sue the government of another party. This means they can file a complaint and seek compensation for damages. Many BITs and investment chapters of FTAs allow for this if the investor’s expectation of a profit has been negatively affected by some action that the host government took, such as changing a policy. The dispute is normally handled not in a public court but through a private abritration panel. The usual venues where these proceedings take place are the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (World Bank), the International Chamber of Commerce, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law or the International Court of Justice.

ISDS is a hot topic right now because it is being challenged very strongly by concerned citizens in the context of the EU-US TTIP negotiations, the TransPacific Partnership talks and the CETA deal between Canada and the EU.

Can existing international agreements on ‘investment facilitation’ advance sustainable development, climate action, and human rights?
Terminating investment treaties and withdrawing advance consent to ISDS would allow governments to clear the path from problematic treaties centered on investment protection and ISDS, which in practice benefit unsustainable investment.
When investors subvert states
The ongoing lawsuit brought against Honduras by an American company underscores the unjust and undemocratic nature of the investor-state dispute settlement system.
Dispute settlement mechanisms: BoI asked to show ‘flexibility’
These directions were issued after threadbare discussion with Saudi Arabia and Qatar which are insisting on the option of international arbitration in a template of Bilateral Investment Treaty.
Who knew Queensland’s richest man is a foreign investor?
Clive Palmer’s controversial legal strategies challenge Australia’s trade agreements and environmental laws, and have profound implications for global climate action.
Investor-state dispute settlements: a hidden handbrake on climate action
To achieve the Paris Agreement’s climate goals, states must move away from fossil fuels. But investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) — a system that enables companies to take states to international arbitration — can increase the cost of this transition.
First Quantum warns of arbitration as Panama weighs copper contract
Canada’s First Quantum intends to start arbitration against Panama, the Central American nation’s trade ministry and the company said, as Panama’s top court considers annulling a copper contract that opponents call unfair.
Honduras is fighting back against corporate colonialism
American billionaires are suing the Honduran government for blocking the creation of a libertarian city-state in the country. If they win, it will be a devastating victory for corporate colonialism over democracy.
Abuja agrees to settlement with ENI over OPL 245
The battle over block OPL 245 between Nigeria and Italian major ENI was suspended on 16 November.
The global minimum tax spurs need for faster investment agreement reforms
A UNCTAD report highlights the interplay between efforts to tackle tax avoidance and protect investment, calling for accelerated reforms to align investment agreements with new global tax rules.
Energy Charter Treaty plans for expansion revealed in recently posted notes
Notes from the Energy Charter Treaty Conference reveal plans for the controversial Energy Charter Treaty to expand to more oil-producing countries.
Cadence Minerals Plc – Sonora lithium investment update – Request for treaty negotiations with Mexico
Cadence Minerals and its subsidiary REM Mexico Limited have issued a request for consultations and negotiations to the Government of Mexico under the United Kingdom-Mexico Bilateral Investment Treaty.
EU, Germany and Denmark sued by oil firm over windfall tax
Officials fear secret courts will block climate action and divert billions into coffers of fossil fuel investors.
Abyssinian launches legal dispute against State JV partner in Ethiopia
Mining corporations have taken steps to issue a notice and dispute and request for negotiations to the Ethiopian government over concerns at measures taken against Abyssinian’s investments in the Kenticha lithium and tantalum project in the country.
Free trade and debt: the two sides of neocolonialism
Highlights from the workshop organised in Marrakesh by Attac Maroc,, CADTM Africa, GRAIN and the Tunisian Observatory of Economy.
Clive Palmer uses another trade agreement to sue Australia, again, for $A69 billion over refusal of Waratah coal mine permit
Billionaire Clive Palmer is using the Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism against Australia because the permits for a coal mining project were refused for environmental reasons, including their contribution to increased carbon emissions.
ISDS mechanisms: The power of highly anti-democratic corporate interest
Removing ISDS mechanisms within the CPTPP is a good start, but Britain must protect itself and other nations from its own corporate interests by removing all ISDS mechanisms.
Arbitration court favors Bolivia in dispute with mining company
The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of Bolivia, denying any compensation to the American mining company Orlandini for the revocation of concessions.
Zenith adds another arbitration case over Tunisia problems
Zenith Energy has launched international arbitration in Paris against state-owned Entreprise Tunisienne d’Activités Pétrolières (ETAP).
It’s time to exit ISDS: 200+ labor, environment, and other civil society groups urge Biden to eliminate extreme corporate powers from existing trade pacts
The groups argue that removing ISDS — which has prioritized corporate rights over those of governments, people, and the planet — is needed to protect policies necessary for a clean energy transition.
An India-UK investment treaty might soon be clinched
India and UK seem to have moved towards common ground on dispute settlement, which was the most controversial part of the bilateral investment treaty.