Imagine an environmentally or socially destructive corporate project – say, a toxic mine, which could poison your local supply of water, or a luxury real estate project, which would displace hundreds of people. You and your community oppose the plans, the courts judge in your favour and the project is stopped. Seems like a community victory, right? But then the company behind the project sues your country for interfering with its profits, demanding millions or even billions in compensation. The lawsuit takes place in a biased pseudo court where rulings are so financially devastating for countries that many respond by offering vast concessions, such as rolling back their own laws.
Sadly, you do not need to imagine any of this. It is the reality. Under the ISDS (investor-state disputes settlement) parallel justice system, corporations and companies can sue countries when they think that government decisions or court rulings impacts their profits. A new report by the Transnational Institute, Corporate Europe Observatory and Friends of the Earth Europe/International provides an in-depth investigation of ten recent ISDS cases.
This report uncovers the human stories behind the often secretive ISDS process. A process which totals almost 1,000 known of cases to date, in which governments have been sued for a total of more than US$623 billion in claims. It is time to stop these courts that provide the red carpet treatment for corporations.