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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.


Regaining sovereignty
Pakistan, which entered into its first BIT with Germany in 1959 — which also was the first BIT ever entered — has concluded 53 BITs with 48 countries.
Turkey is the latest victim of a billion-dollar corporate heist
A Canadian mining company is suing Turkey for $1 billion at a secretive arbitration court over the cancellation of a mine project that was deemed disastrous for the environment.
Mexico should follow other countries and refuse excessive powers for foreign investors
Pakistan is the latest to start withdrawing from international treaties that give corporations the power to sue governments over environmental and public interest regulations.
We need to rethink investment treaties to ensure a rapid and just energy transition
It’s time to reconsider investor-state dispute settlement; inaction risks rising costs of shifting from fossil fuels to green alternatives.
Alamos Gold’s units to file $1 bln investment treaty claim against Turkey
Miner Alamos Gold said its Netherlands units will file an investment treaty claim exceeding $1 billion against Turkey for "unfair and inequitable treatment" with its gold mining project.
Draft convention on investments abroad (Abs-Shawcross draft convention)
One of the most significant early proposals for a multilateral agreement to protect private foreign investment was launched in 1957 by groups of European business people, and lawyers.
Energy Charter Treaty strikes again as Uniper sues Netherlands over coal phase-out
German energy company Uniper has confirmed its intention to sue the Dutch government over the country’s planned coal phase-out.
Oil companies don’t deserve reparations for fossil fuel bans. They’ll still want them
Energy conglomerates have recourse to special courts and legal regimes that they helped design – and they won’t go down without a fight.
NAFTA-investor lawsuits cost Canada at least $376 million: report
NAFTA-investor lawsuits have cost Canadian taxpayers more than $376 million over the last 25 years, and could cost even more in the years ahead.
The rise and demise of NAFTA Chapter 11
The removal of investor–state dispute settlement (ISDS) from the renegotiated NAFTA was a critical victory but Canada, the US and Mexico continue to be enmeshed in an extensive web of bilateral and regional accords containing ISDS.
Pathfinder Minerals estimates $621m hit from Mozambique title dispute
Mining group Pathfinder Minerals said a dispute over the ownership of a mining title in Mozambique could see it incur estimated losses of more than $621.3 million.
Arbitration case: Cairn Energy offers to invest $1.2 bn if India relents
Cairn Energy has offered to invest the entire award money in India, which includes the principal amount of $1.2 billion and interest of $500 million if the government agrees to enforce the award.
Rethinking investment law from the ground up: extractivism, human rights, and investment treaties
For many people affected by resource extraction, it is the prevailing legal regime that dis-embeds and disintegrates, because investment treaties can protect ventures that upend their lives with little scope for voice or redress.
From gunboats to treaties: Who wrote the rules of globalisation?
From colonisation to investor-state dispute settlements, rich countries have sought to exploit and influence their poorer counterparts for centuries, but how did globalisation in its current form come to be?
Nobel economist and 100 experts condemn corporate action against Argentina and Bolivia after rollback of failed pension privatization
Private insurance corporations are suing Argentina and Bolivia for loss of potential profits as a result of the reversal of privatization of pension programs.
Barrick forces hand of Papua New Guinea government in reopening Porgera mine
Referring repeatedly to legal threats by Barrick Gold Corp., Prime Minister Papua New Guinea released a statement announcing that his government will be making a deal with the company in regard to the Porgera Joint Venture gold mine.
A brief history of globalisation
Investment treaties largely replaced colonial gunboats as a way to continue to exploit the resources of foreign countries.
How corporate courts block climate action
Corporate courts are an unjust mechanism that can block climate action. The UK should reject them.
Sovereign states on a leash
The overreach on display in the aggressive use of ISDS lawsuits by multinational corporations is just one part of a broader trend in recent decades in which the ability of states to regulate their economies in their own interests.
Most of BITs to be scrapped
Pakistan has reportedly decided to scrap most of its existing Bilateral Investment Treaties as these pacts are shrinking the government’s policy space with respect to adopting measures of public interest.