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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.


Dar briefed on BIT regime
Pakistan Finance minister says the government will review its existing bilateral investment treaties and develop a template for future ones.
Protect our climate and health, not multinational profits
This week’s edition of world-leading medical journal The Lancet includes a call by 27 health experts from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, the USA, and Vietnam for the TPPA to be made public so its overall health impacts can be assessed.
Germany: Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) is unconstitutional
A report authored by Prof. Dr. Siegfried Broß and recently published by the German Hans Böckler Stiftung concludes that the Investor-State-Dispute Settlement (ISDS) tribunals currently planned to be included in the TTIP and CETA free-trade agreements are not in accordance with Germany’s constitution.
The ’Law 42’ arbitrations against Ecuador and the importance of BIT language
Three recent ICSID decisions involving Ecuador highlight the importance of language addressing the status of taxes in investment treaties.
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, investor-state dispute settlement and China
Advocates of a transatlantic investment treaty should be careful not to overstate their case and play the “China-card” as a core argument for allowing US investors to side-track EU courts.
French Senate tells TTIP negotiators to ‘abolish’ ISDS
The French Senate united on Tuesday (3 February) in its opposition to the Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism (ISDS).
Petitioners’ fears over EU-US trade deal well-grounded
It is very difficult to refute the general allegation that the TTIP agenda is driven by big business interests, writes John Kay
Paris and Berlin call for review of EU-Canada trade deal
Trade negotiations between the EU and Canada concluded in October 2013, but France and Germany now want to make changes to the CETA agreement’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause.
“Investment arbitration is now on Broadway, and the critics are not being kind”
There is a developing consensus among states that it is acceptable, and even virtuous, to challenge investor-state arbitration as an infringement on the rights of the public to pass laws through their democratically-elected representatives.
Human rights in investor-State arbitration: The human right to water and beyond
This article analyzes the restrictive approach adopted by investor-State arbitration tribunals to human rights arguments raised by host States, as exemplified in the case of the human right to water
New weaknesses: Despite a major win, arbitration decisions in 2014 increase the US’s future exposure to litigation and liability
In 2014, the US again emerged the winner in investor-state arbitration. But it did suffer losses on a number of important issues, and those losses leave it more vulnerable to future claims, litigation costs, and potential liability.
European Commission’s clever ruse to introduce corporate sovereignty regardless of ratification votes in EU
Even if CETA is rejected in Europe, claims under the ISDS chapter would still be possible up to three years afterwards for investments made during the provisional period.
Chevron’s battered image over Ecuador ecological disaster takes another hit in Davos
Oil giant wins "lifetime achievement" award for efforts to evade justice
UK aims to pass law to ban branding on cigarette packs before May
Cigarette sales have dropped in Australia since plain packaging was introduced on Dec. 1, 2012, prompting Britain to act before its national election in May even as Australia battles international legal challenges from other countries and manufacturers.
India and bilateral investment treaties – are they worth it?
Instead of relying only on a treaty-based approach, India should initiate domestic policy reforms to attract and protect foreign investments, argues Kavaljit Singh
Why UK parliament should scrutinise the UK-Ethiopia bilateral investment treaty (BIT)
If TTIP is bad, the UK-Ethiopia BIT is worse, says Lorenzo Cotula of IIED
Licensed to grab: How international investment rules undermine agrarian justice
This brief analyses and illustrates how international investment rules thwart the struggle for land and food sovereignty.
Harvest asks for arbitration against Venezuela after failed sales
Harvest Natural Resources Inc, a Texas based oil and gas company, said on Friday it has filed an arbitration request against Venezuela before a World Bank tribunal to protect the value of its investment in the South American country.
ISDS mechanism should be ’consigned to the annals of history’
"ISDS cannot be reformed and, like many archaic trade practices of the 18th century, should be consigned to the annals of history," argues Cecile Toubeau
France and Germany to form united front against ISDS
The two countries are discussing throwing their combined weight behind a common position to exclude an Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism from trade talks with the US