bilaterals.org logo
bilaterals.org logo

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.


Arbitrator: EMG due $1.03b from Egypt over canceled gas contract
Decision comes six years after supplies were halted, forcing EMG shareholder Ampal into bankruptcy.
Civil society recommendations for the investment chapter of the revised EU-Mexico FTA
The undersigned organisations take the position that it is advisable to break away from the fundamentally flawed and increasingly controversial ISDS system.
The EU - Indonesia CEPA negotiations
We call on the EU and Indonesia to use the CEPA negotiations to design an investment chapter that prioritises equitable and sustainable development.
Sacrificing sovereignty and human potential in the name of economic growth
Why are countries so gripped in their quest for economic growth that they are empowering multinational corporations at the expense of their citizens?
Golf lawsuit threatens to shut down Friends of the Earth Croatia
In September 2017, the investor filed a €500 million ISDS claim against the Republic of Croatia at an arbitration tribunal because the "state [had taken] away their development licences"
South Korea to seek investor protection measures in FTA talks with China
South Korea’s trade ministry said Monday it will seek ways to better protect investor rights from arbitrary regulations when holding talks with China to expand the scope of the two countries’ free trade agreement (FTA) to the service and investment sector.
Global mining firms sue Kenya for Sh334bn compensation
Global mining firms want Kenya compelled to pay Sh334 billion as compensation for cancelling their licences.
Beijing plans new mechanism for Belt and Road arbitration
In a proactive move, China has plans under way to provide its own arbitration in any future commercial issues or disputes between the Belt and Road countries. The 68 countries and regions included in the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) not only vary in economic strength but also require a stable trade environment with adequate legal safeguards.
Congolese mines minister mum on whether controversial new code has been made law
International mining companies, which include Randgold, Glencore and China Molybdenum, have said they will challenge the new law through international arbitration, and are lobbying Kabila not to sign it.
United in mixity? The future of the EU common commercial policy in light of the CJEU’s recent case law
The European Commission reportedly proposed a model for the fast track ratification of trade deals that should be applied for the first time to the new trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand.
Shifting trade winds: US bilateralism & Asia-Pacific economic integration
Certain long-standing provisions of trade agreements, specifically ISDS, are worthy of reconsideration.
Belt and Road and the battle for global investment standards
A new battle is taking shape on the world scene. It sees China and the West compete in affirming their respective investment standards around the globe.
Free trade fantasies: Canada must reject both NAFTA and TPP
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has boasted of his commitment to progressive economic, environmental and social policies. At the same time, has been a passionate warrior in his pursuit and defence of so-called ‘free trade’ agreements.
Public-private partnerships and aid’s ’private turn’: addressing the investment law dimensions
Where PPP projects turn sour, governments could be exposed to arbitration claims under applicable investment treaties.
Canadian NAFTA auto rules of origin idea ‘opposite’ of US goals: Lighthizer
While “significant” challenges remain, all three ministers said some progress has been made this round.
Ecuador adopts a new approach towards foreign investment
Recent declarations made by members of the newly elected government of Ecuador reveal a reversal of its predecessor’s decision to denounce and withdrawal from the ICSID Convention, as well as all of Ecuador’s bilateral investment treaties
Towards a peoples charter on international trade agreements
It is now time we open up the dialogue on the kind of trade agreements that we want to see in place.
Canada, Mexico tell US: Decide whether you want a NAFTA dispute settlement process
Disputes over whether to opt out of investment section frustrating to Canada and Mexico.
Canada begins court fight to overturn NAFTA ruling on Digby quarry
Ruling found that New Jersey company was wrongly prevented from opening quarry and terminal.
China to establish int’l courts to deal with Belt and Road Initiative cases
China has decided to set up three international courts to deal with disputes related to its multi-billion dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), under which it is making massive investments.