News / 5 April 2012

NEW VIDEO: Criticism on international investment treaties

International investment treaties grant transnational investors too many privileges and thus compromise the rights of citizens and states, critics say. The video No more corporate privileges gives an impression of the concerns of experts and activists. Not only the EU, but developing countries as well, should reconsider their positions. For example by leaving the main arbitration panel for investment disputes ICSID, like Venezuela announced recently.

Exorbitant claims
Late January, the government of Venezuela made an official request to leave the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Distputes (ICSID). Within this system of arbitration, investors can sue governments if they feel that their investments have been compromised. Critics of the current international investment regime regard ICSID as an important symbol of unbalanced power relations; governments and citizens are not able to call transnational corporations to account at this court. By withdrawal from this international arbitration panel, Venezuela hopes to recover its "national sovereignty" and to put an end to exorbitant claims of multinationals.

Symbolic power
According to ICSID-rules, it would take half a year before the membership can be terminated. Meanwhile current affairs are handled as usual. Currently Venezuela is involved in a case with oil company ConocoPhilips that filed multiple claims against the country. Venezuela raised objections because of the lack of independence of one of the members of the arbitration panel. ICSID has overruled these objections a couple of weeks ago. Already before the announcement of Venezuela, also Bolivia and Equador threatened to start up procedures to leave ICSID. "This illustrates that the current system needs to be revised", Burghard Ilge of Both ENDS says.

No more corporate privileges
November 2011, Both ENDS attended a 'Week of Action' in Brussels where more than 100 international experts and social activists as a group declared itself against the existing investment policy of the EU. "The investment treaties give multinational corporations a lot of power and do not respect the rights of local communities", Leena Menghany of Doctors Without Borders India clarifies the criticism on EU policy. The video No more corporate privileges gives an impression of the concerns and views that were expressed at the conference. Besides Menghany, also activists from countries such as Bolivia, the Philippines and Zimbabwe have their say. They give local examples of the negative impact that investment treaties have on communities and the environment and call for a revision of the current regime.

Video No more corporate privileges

For more information:

Week of Action Brussels 2011

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