The launch of a book on the impact of ICSID on human rights

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Bolpress | 19-2-08

Freely translated by Anoosha Boralessa in 2015 for bilaterals.org

The launch of a book on the impact of ICSID on human rights

The launch of the book, Sovereignty of the people or commercial interests: the ICSID mechanism and its impact on human rights and the environment took place in the cities of Cochabamba and La Paz. The text was produced by Redes Uruguay, Friends of the Earth International and Fundación Solón.

In its introduction the book explains how international financial institutions act like tailors charged with fitting out transnationals with tailor-made suits. ICSID, through bilateral investment treaties (BITs) or free trade agreements (FTAs), provides this type of machinery that negatively impacts on human rights and the environment.

ICSID is an organisation of the World Bank and it is a vehicle to provide foreign investors with greater security. It is scandalous that large transnationals bypass national law and have acquired a status equal to that of states, which can now be sued for adopting social policies that benefit the majority of people.

At the launch, it was recalled that the topic came on to people’s radar with the mobilization of the people of Cochabamba at the time of the Water War, and that the campaign and international solidarity played an important role in thwarting the lawsuit filed by Bechtel-Aguas del Tunari against the Bolivian government.

This book explains the implications of ICSID for international public law, the mechanisms causing states join ICSID, such as BITs and FTAs (now called agreements of economic association). It also presents several case studies of Uruguay, Mexico, Costa Rica and Argentina as well as others.

It also makes reference to the experience of the Bolivian government that last year on May 2 became the first country on the planet to withdraw from ICSID, arguing that this private tribunal contradicted the Political Constitution of the State in force (art. 135). So too, it analyzes a case lodged by Telecom-ENTEL against the Bolivian state, even though Bolivia had withdrawn its consent, a prerequisite to arbitration.

At the launch, it was acknowledged that we must strengthen the domestic legal orders of countries to ensure a viable, alternative proposal to panels of international arbitrators that are partial to the interests of transnational corporations.

source: Bolpress