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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.


Uruguayan State requested hefty sum in damages over Montevideo Port deals
Chilean and Canadian partners of the Montecon consortium handling operations in the port of Montevideo have started an arbitration process for “damages and losses” worth up to US$ 600 million against the Uruguayan State.
Eurohold and EIG launch EUR 500 mln arbitration proceedings against Romania
Eurohold Bulgaria AD and Euroins Insurance Group AD said they have officially filed a request for arbitration against the government of Romania at the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Washington, DC.
Government wins landmark international arbitration case against Laiki, Bank of Cyprus depositors
The World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) tribunal unanimously rejected a USD 600 million claim by depositors and bondholders of Laiki Bank and the Bank of Cyprus.
ICSID rules in favour of Peru in decade-long dispute with Kaloti Metals
The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) ruled in favour of Peru in a decade-long dispute with gold dealer Kaloti Metals & Logistics, LLC.
Non-European Union states keen on investment agreements with India
Several non-European Union states are keen on finalising bilateral investment treaties with India to boost the potential for investments and to address concerns of investors on matters such as dispute resolution.
How the fast-track law could expose future NZ governments to expensive trade disputes
Foreign investors wanting to protect their gains under the controversial new law could hold the country to ransom by threatening a dispute. As a result, they would constrain New Zealand’s democratic ability to exercise its sovereignty, and to protect te Tiriti rights.
The tide is turning against the global court for corporations – ISDS
After a decade long struggle by PSI and affiliates against trade rules that put corporate profits before people, victory is in sight!
The global laws that help corporations block climate action
Companies have long used international treaties to try to prevent Global South countries from asserting economic sovereignty. In recent decades, corporations have used such laws to stymie European governments’ attempts to tackle the climate crisis.
Victories in the global movement against corporate globalization
For half a century, the ISDS system has allowed multinational corporations to run off with billions of taxpayers dollars while allowing them to undermine environmental standards, public health protections, financial regulations, and other sound policies throughout the world.
Peru seeks to avoid arbitration over Chinese-built mega port
A free-trade agreement between Peru and China, which has been in effect since 2009, protects investments and has allowed increased trade between the countries.
Why people of Ecuador were right to keep the corporate courts out
In a referendum, Ecuador voted to keep its constitutional ban on using international arbitration and investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms.
As Honduras leaves World Bank dispute forum, US tries to keep influence
Honduras’ withdrawal from the World Bank investor dispute forum could have a limited practical effect, but it is already read along ideological lines.
Major victory as the European Parliament votes overwhelmingly in favour of exiting the climate-wrecking Energy Charter Treaty
The European Parliament voted today largely in favour of the Commission’s proposal for the European Union to withdraw from the Energy Charter Treaty, a landmark move that campaigners across Europe have been demanding for years.
Ecuador said “no” to international arbitration: a sovereign decision with international resonance in the fight against ISDS
April 21st has been a historic day. The Ecuadorian people voted massively NO in the referendum question about whether Ecuador should return to arbitration.
Canada pushes for more mining in Ecuador despite resistance
The Canadian and Ecuadorian governments continue to forge ahead with free trade agreement plans, despite opposition from social movements and Indigenous Peoples within Ecuador, along with rampant instability.
Between sovereignty and corporate interests: what is at stake in the Ecuadorian referendum?
On 21 April 2024, the government of Daniel Noboa is holding a referendum in Ecuador to amend the country’s constitution and, in particular, to reactivate the dangerous investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.
Joseph Stiglitz, Jayati Ghosh, Zephyr Teachout, Dani Rodrik, and 295 law and economics professors urge Biden to terminate ISDS provisions in existing US trade and investment agreements
As US law professors and economics professors deeply committed to the rule of law and economic well-being both domestically and globally, we strongly urge you to remove ISDS provisions from existing US trade and investment agreements.
Libya’s sovereign wealth fund launches €15bn arbitration drive against Belgian prince
It is presumed the claim is on the basis of the bilateral investment treaty between Libya and Belgium.
Podcast: The secret world of investor courts
The Secret World of Investor Courts is a podcast made by the Global Justice Now Youth Network, exploring corporate power, colonialism and climate justice.
How a documentary film can help UNCITRAL Working Group III think through ISDS reform
A documentary film offers a powerful illustration of the ways in which ISDS can impact third parties, exacerbate inequalities, and reinforce power imbalances.