Chevron Case Take Down Trade Pact ‘Investor-State’
We share with you a press release dated 17 February by the Washington
DC-based Public Citizen, disclosing the International Investor Tribunal's
ruling that effectively directs the Ecuadorian government to intervene
in its judicial system.
This is an example of the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism,
contained in many free trade agreements and investment agreements negotiated
or being negotiated across the world, in action.
grants investors the right to initiate proceedings directly against
governments, as opposed to the original system where investors will
need to file a complaint with their home government which then on considering
the merits of the case would initiate a government-to-government case.
With best wishes,
Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
Websites: www.twnside.org.sg, www.biosafety-info.net
Will Chevron Case Take Down Trade Pact ‘Investor-State’ Enforcement
WASHINGTON, D.C. – An unprecedented ruling today (17 February), in which
an investor-state international arbitral tribunal initiated by Chevron
ordered the Ecuadorian government to interfere in the operations of
Ecuador’s independent court system on behalf of the oil giant, provides
a chilling glimpse of how corporations are trying to use international
investor tribunals to evade justice, said Public Citizen.
After having lost on the merits in Ecuador and U.S. courts and after
18 years of trying to stall judgment, Chevron turned to an ad hoc “investor-state”
tribunal of three private lawyers as the last chance to help the company
avoid paying to clean up contamination in the Amazonian rainforest.
Chevron is trying to get this private tribunal to suspend enforcement
of or alter an $18 billion judgment against Chevron rendered by a sovereign
country’s court system.
The tribunal issued a ruling today even though it has not even determined
that it has jurisdiction over the case. Past such international investor
cases in which tribunals have ordered governments to pay cash damages
to corporations have led to growing controversy.
“The Ecuadorian government should not violate its own constitution and
interfere with its independent courts’ order for Chevron to clean up
its horrific contamination in the Amazon, because some unelected ad
hoc tribunal of three private sector lawyers called together by Chevron
to meet in a rented room in Washington, D.C., pretends to have the authority
to second-guess 18 years of U.S. and Ecuadorian court rulings,” said
Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
“Consider the broader implications of this star chamber ‘investor-state’
system: How can a panel of three unelected private sector lawyers order
a sovereign government to violate its own constitution’s separation
of powers and interfere in its court system, all to help Chevron (a
company whose severe contamination of the Ecuadorian Amazon has been
repeatedly proven), and how can that tribunal do this all before it
has even decided that it has jurisdiction over this case,” Wallach said.
Meanwhile, the three private-sector lawyers serving as tribunalists
on this kangaroo court will continue to rack up large hourly fees even
as they order Ecuador’s government to help Chevron deny justice to the
30,000 Amazonian indigenous people who have won a historic $18 billion
clean-up of deadly environmental contamination. Tribunalists in this
system, who alternate between serving as “judges” and representing corporations
in cases before panels of their colleagues, are paid on an hourly basis.
“The only silver lining of this obscene ruling is that having one of
these shady investor-state tribunals presume to attack a country’s constitution,
justice system and 30,000 people whose futures rely on Chevron cleaning
up its mess could lead to the implosion of the entire investor-state
system, which international companies are increasingly using to try
to evade justice worldwide,” said Wallach.
These unaccountable investor-state tribunals have issued perverse rulings
in the past on behalf of corporate claimants. Recent U.S. trade agreements
empower foreign corporations to use this system to skirt our domestic
courts and directly use our government before these corporate tribunals
to obtain payment of unlimited taxpayer funds when they claim domestic
environmental, land use, health and other laws undermine their “expected
future profits.” More than $350 million has been paid by government
to corporations in attacks on toxics bans, environmental issues and
zoning permits under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA.)
Billions in additional claims are pending. Possible inclusion of the
investor-state private enforcement system for corporations to sue governments
is becoming one of the most controversial issues in the first “trade”
deal the Obama administration is negotiating – a new Trans-Pacific Partnership
- Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization
based in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit www.citizen.org.
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