November the 1st is the deadline for the amendment or withdrawal of the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) between the Netherlands and South Africa. The intention of the treaty was to expand and strengthen the economic relationship between the two countries, to promote the exchange of capital and technology and to strengthen the economic growth. The question is what will happen next; Burghard Ilge of Both ENDS explains.
Thanks to the negotiations about TTIP, the public debate about bilateral investment treaties (BITs) is slowly underway. Especially the ‘Investor-to-State Dispute Settlement Mechanism’ (ISDS) of TTIP threatens to lower the norms to protect people and the environment. BITs make use of very controversial arbitrage systems (ISDS), which enable investors to bypass the national court to sue governments for their national policies and laws.
In 1959, Germany and Pakistan signed the first Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) in the world. Without knowing, they marked a new era as many countries have followed their example since then. Currently, the international legal system that governs international investment flows consists of about 3000 BITs and other international investment agreements (IIAs). While originally these treaties were thought to be beneficial for the investor and the host state in terms of economic growth, increased foreign investment and development, many host states have suffered negative consequences instead of benefiting from them.
The European Commission is about to take important decisions about Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs). These agreements are designed to protect corporations that invest in a foreign (often developing) country. These international agreements are binding, but often undermine the social and environmental regulations that developing countries want to implement. On march 3, the European Parliament will vote on reforming these policies.
This joint position launched by 175 civil society organisations from 45 countries calls on world leaders to end OECD export finance for oil and gas, and explains how it can be done.
In March the Indonesian government announced that it will terminate the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with the Netherlands as of July 1st, 2015 (for more information, see the press release of 24 March at the bottom of this post). Several organizations, including Both ENDS, have been raising questions about these controversial international trade agreements for a long time and think they should be drastically revised or even terminated. The Socialist Party and GreenLeft have asked parliamentary questions about the effects of these treaties following Indonesia’s decision. Both ENDS is curious about the answers to these parliamentary questions and about the consequences they will have for Dutch policy in this area.
(This interview was published on January 18th in Inside Philantrophy)
Most people in philanthropy don't enter the sector because they have dreams of working in a financial institution. But that's exactly what they're doing. The philanthropic sector as we know it today was deliberately designed by the robber barons of the early 19th century as a response to extreme wealth inequality they created through exploitative labor practices in the oil, steel and shipping industries. Whether to genuinely make amends for the harms they created or to engage in reputation washing, the industrialists cornered the market on philanthropy, guarding against legal challenges to its tax shelter functionality and curtailing regulatory legislation that could induce democratic decision-making. Today, the value of philanthropy stands at about $2.3 trillion, which is 3% of the global economy.