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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.


Keynote address by George Kahale, III
Combined with the dispute settlement mechanism of international arbitration, investment treaties have been transformed intol "weapons of legal destruction."
Miners want ISDS in Indonesia free trade agreement
Businesses in the mining sector and beyond insist protection for Australian investors in Indonesia is required in a free trade deal.
The limitations of the UNCITRAL process on ISDS reform
The UNCITRAL process runs a real risk of producing middle-ground solutions that will fail to address the fundamental flaws of the ISDS system and will only further institutionalise and re-legitimise the system.
More than 300 civil society organizations from 73 countries urge fundamental reform at UNCITRAL’s Investor-State Dispute Settlement discussions
More than 300 civil society groups and trade unions urged governments participating in United Nations meetings in Vienna to completely overhaul the controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) system.
EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements (Aug 2018)
As published by the European Commission
How to make investment agreements more progressive: stop signing them
Unverified rumours circulated in early 2018 that Canada was willing to abandon NAFTA’s provisions entitling foreign investors to sue for damages under what is called investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS.
How the lobbies used the threat of ISDS to neuter the Hulot Act
The documents highlight for the first time the pressure placed on the French parliament by a foreign company’s threat to use the ISDS mechanism.
It’s time to stop giving more rights to global corporations
The UN Conference on Trade and Development new research shows that increased market power of global corporations is driving global income inequality. It recommends a review of existing regulation and trade agreements to develop “measures to curb abusive business practices.”
Korean utility refers India to arbitration
South Korean utility Korea Western Power Company (Kowepo) has begun arbitration proceedings against India for not honoring a fuel supply commitment to a gas-based power plant that it part-owns in western India
Kenya wins big in Ksh.200B Cortec Mining case
A case filed by Cortec Mining Ltd and two others against the Republic of Kenya under the Kenya-UK BIT amounting to Ksh.200billion has been dismissed.
Liberals should consistently fight trade deals that let corporations sue Canada
Investor-state dispute settlement was tempered in the USMCA, but the government needs to justify why it persists asking for it in other agreements.
Schindler sues Korean gov’t over Hyundai Elevator
Swiss elevator maker, Schindler Group, has officially filed for an investor state dispute settlement against the Korean government seeking US$300 million in compensation for losses over its approval of paid-in capital increase of Hyundai Elevator
Crossbenchers plot to embarrass Labor over Trans-Pacific Partnership
Crossbenchers are ramping up pressure on Labor at the 11th hour to reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, drafting amendments that would force opposition senators to vote against the party’s policy.
New briefing note – agricultural investments under international investment law
The number of known investment treaty claims concerning agricultural investments has grown rapidly in recent years. This new briefing note from IIED, IISD and CCSI helps policy makers navigate the challenges.
Singapore, Indonesia ink pact to offer protection, global arbitration access to investors
Singapore and Indonesia signed an agreement to promote and protect investments, with the treaty promising Singapore companies operating in Indonesia protection and access to international arbitration in the event of investment disputes.
Tanzania ends investment treaty with Netherlands
Tanzania has terminated its Bilateral Investment Agreement with the Netherlands that East African and Dutch civil society had said was biased against the country.
Big oil and gas companies are winners in Trump’s new trade deal
The oil business persuaded the White House to keep a number of features of the old NAFTA, including provisions that help protect US oil companies’ investments abroad and allow for tax-free transport of raw and refined products across borders.
Trump’s NAFTA deal threatens our air, water, and climate
More outsourcing of pollution and jobs, handouts to corporate polluters, and climate denial
From Quito: Pablo Fajardo & Donald Moncayo
Pablo Fajardo, the lead lawyer for the communities who have been fighting for 25 years for compensation for the severe pollution in the amazon region, and Donald Moncayo, one of the coordinators of the organization that has led this campaign talk about the Chevron case.
Review Tanzania, The Netherlands investment agreement, CSO says
Tanzania is urged to review the 15 years Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with the Kingdom of Netherlands expires in April 2019 before it reckons itself for another 10 years.