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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.


Smart move: Argentina to leave the ICSID
Given the substantial problems with the current ICSID framework and the large number of cases currently pending against Argentina, denouncing the SID Convention and leaving the ICSID is the best course for the country.
S2B analysis on ISDS and CETA
Seattle to Brussels Network analysis of the European Commission’s note on “Investment Provisions in the EU-Canada free trade agreement”
Sovereignty fears lead to EU-US trade rethink
The European Commission is to rethink its approach to a controversial US trade deal which campaign groups in the UK have warned would fundamentally erode Britain’s sovereignty.
US firm’s FTA plan to keep mine
An American investor plans to invoke the US-Australia Free Trade Agreement to prevent the NSW government cancelling a coal exploration licence that the Independent Commission Against Corruption said is tainted by corruption and should be expunged.
The global fight against corporate rule
Activists are challenging rules that grant corporations the right to sue governments.
Born’s BAT gets set to fly
A proposal for a new form of international arbitration, with states abandoning sovereign rights to commercial dispute litigation in favor of resolution by arbitration, has provoked wide public interest and is now being drafted into an international model treaty.
Philip Morris, Australia and the fate of Europe’s trade talks
Australia’s clash with Philip Morris over plain packaging has disrupted trade talks between the United States and Europe, reports James Panichi in Brussels
Protecting foreign investments in Sub-Saharan Africa: The SADC and its protocol on finance and investment
The SADC protocol on investment provides rights to investors, including investor-state dispute settlement provisions, in southern Africa no matter what country they hail from. Thus, it goes way beyond typical bilateral investment treaties (BITs) while protecting foreign companies operating in SADC countries without BIT coverage.
Explaining ISDS
A five-minute video from FTA Watch (Thailand)
A Canadian court is allowing Ecuadorians to pursue their long-running pollution suit against Chevron
Last month, a judge ruled that the Ecuadorians can pursue their case against Chevron in Canada.
Tribunal pushes back Ecuador, Chevron hearing
An international arbitration tribunal in The Hague hearing a claim from Chevron Corp. against Ecuador pushed back a scheduled hearing to Feb. 7 from Jan. 20 and called on both parties to meet in Washington on Jan. 20 instead.
Investment deal? Just watch it
In the last couple of years, South Africa has become the unlikely champion of the anti-BIT movement.
LPG firm’s investor seeks compensation
A shareholder from the United Kingdom of the company Progas Pakistan has initiated international arbitration proceedings of $573 million against Pakistan for alleged expropriation of its LPG infrastructure in Karachi and the government has decided to vigorously contest the case.
Indigenous groups win right to seize Chevron’s Canadian sssets over $18 billion in Amazon pollution
A court in Canada has ruled Ecuadorean farmers and fishermen can try to seize the assets of oil giant Chevron based on a 2011 decision in an Ecuadorean court found it liable for nearly three decades of soil and water pollution near oil wells, and said it had ruined the health and livelihoods of people living in nearby areas of the Amazon rainforest.
Open letter of civil society against investor privileges in TTIP
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Romania loses major arbitration case
In a victory which may have major ramifications for international law, US law firm King & Spalding has won a $250 million arbitration case for Romanian company Micula against the Republic of Romania.
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Ecuador high court upholds Chevron verdict, halves fine
Ecuador’s highest court upheld a verdict that US oil company Chevron Corp is responsible for pollution in an Amazon rainforest, but halved the fine imposed in a previous trial to $9.5 billion, a decision the company dismissed as illegitimate.
Harper moves to give up more Canadian sovereignty
Tthe Harper government recently committed Canada to ratify the ICSID Convention.