Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Investment treaties and arbitrators

From Wikileaks brings much-needed scrutiny to secret trade talks (all the links are from Naked Capitalism) "TISA has some way to run. Whether the original parties can broker a deal, and then get enough sign on from others to force it back into the WTO, are imponderables. But there is no doubt that this first major leak of the text will bring unwelcome attention to the plan. Negotiating TISA in daylight, and subjecting it to public scrutiny, will enhance the prospect that they fail."
'Trade Treaties and Coming Rule of Global Corporatocracy' explains how many earlier trade treaties have been working. It links earlier articles about investment treaties, arbitration procedures and arbitrators.
From 'Profiting from injustice' " International investment treaties are agreements made between states that determine the rights of investors in each other’s territories. They are used by powerful companies to sue governments if policy changes – even ones to protect public health or the environment – are deemed to affect their profits. By the end of 2011, over 3,000 international investment treaties had been signed, leading to a surge in legal claims at international arbitration tribunals......Some countries have started to realise the injustices and inconsistencies of international investment arbitration and have initiated a retreat from the system. In spring 2011, the Australian government announced that it would no longer include investor-state dispute settlement provisions in its trade agreements. Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela have terminated several investment treaties and have withdrawn from ICSID. Argentina, which has been swamped with investor-claims related to emergency legislation in the context of its 2001-2002 economic crisis, refuses to pay arbitration awards. South Africa is engaged in a thorough overhaul of its investment policy to better align it with development considerations and has just announced that it will neither enter into new investment agreements nor renew old ones due to expire."
More details about arbitrators in  'Corporate Europe'
"Most arbitration panels are composed of three people. One arbitrator is selected by each of the parties and a third, the president, is usually selected by the two party-appointed arbitrators. Sometimes a previously agreed appointing power, such as the World Bank or International Chamber of Commerce, selects the arbitrators. Arbitrators do not need to be registered anywhere in order to qualify. Both parties can appoint anyone they consider suitable."
"Proportion of arbitrators from Western Europe and North America: 69% for all cases held at the World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID)13 and 83% if taking into account arbitrators who have sat in more than 10 cases ".

The article goes on to discuss the treaties which are being currently negotiated with conflict resolutions probably following similar procedures to the above ones:
" what gives trade treaties such as TTIP and TISA their “claws and teeth” is the inclusion of an innocuous-sounding provision called the “investor-state dispute settlement.” This effectively allows private companies to sue entire nations if they feel that a law lost them money on their investment."

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