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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.


Arbitration panel ruling favors Occidental in Ecuador tax dispute
Occidental Petroleum Corporation said today that a tribunal of international arbitrators formed under the US-Ecuador Bilateral Investment Treaty has issued its unanimous decision awarding approximately $75 million as compensation for value added tax (VAT) refunds from the company’s Block 15 operations in Ecuador that were deemed wrongfully withheld by the Government of Ecuador through December 31, 2003.
US Treasury Dept pressures Costa Rica
The attached letter, pressuring Costa Rica to resolve two disputes in favour of US investors, has been denounced as a blackmail by local activists.
MTD Capital wins case against Chile
MTD Capital Bhd has won in its legal dispute against the government of Chile in respect of its investment in a housing project in the country.
FTAAs/IIRSA, Plan Colombia and the Axis of Western Development
The North American Free Trade Treaty (NAFTA, Jan 1994), the Free Trade Area for the Americas (FTAAs, December 1994), Plan Colombia (1999), the Regional Integration of Infrastructure in South America (RIISA, September 2000) and the Plan Puebla Panamá (PPP, March 2001) are the building blocks of the US hegemonic policy for the Americas and the Caribbean.
NAFTA Tribunals Stir US Worries
After the highest court in Massachusetts ruled against a Canadian real estate company and after the United State Supreme Court declined to hear its appeal, the company’s day in court was over.
Bilateral Investment Treaties and Disputes
Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) have greatly proliferated in the last two decades, and play an increasingly significant role in global trade and investment protection.
Analysis: We Must Mobilise Against A Miasma of Mini-MAIs
You’ve got to wonder at the nerve of New Zealand trade officials. During the furtive Multilateral Agreement on Investment negotiations and the subsequent international waves of opposition they were quietly hatching binding bilateral investment deals containing provisions resembling some of the most controversial elements of the MAI.
Analysis: Sleeping Beauty And Prince Charming: Bilateral Deals Are No Fairytale
The recent explosion of bilateral investment and trade agreements and investor-state disputes is of growing concern. Many mobilisations against the World Trade Organisation (WTO) aim to stop attempts by industrialised countries to kickstart talks on a multilateral investment agreement at September’s Cancun Ministerial meeting.
Bechtel and GE mount investment treaty claim against India
Two minority investors in India’s largest foreign investment, the ill-starred Dabhol Power Plant, have launched a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) claim against India in an effort to recoup their losses related to the plant.