New book 'Rethinking Bilateral Trade Agreements' launched today
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.
A new book, published by Madhyam, Both ENDS and SOMO, aims to encourage the collective thinking about BITS and other investment treaties, and to engage all stakeholders – governments, inter-governmental organisations, the private sector, civil society, think-tanks and academia - in this process.
“Almost all investment treaties include a so-called ‘Investor to State Dispute Settlement mechanism’ (ISDS), allowing investors to sue their host state when changes to regulations threaten to reduce profits. Many countries have already faced unexpected claims against them, because they wanted to implement new laws or rules to ensure financial stability, or to protect the environment or the health of their people,” says Kavaljit Singh, director of Madhyam, New Delhi. “In recent years, a global backlash against BITs has gained momentum and the call to roll back the BIT regime and protect national sovereignty is getting stronger. Several developing countries have already terminated their BITs or are in the process of doing so. And in Europe opposition against the ISDS-system is growing fast amongst citizens as well as politicians", says Burghard Ilge from Both ENDS
The free-to-download book contains 19 distinct analyses by leading experts in the field, covering both national and international perspectives. Some contributions are written by current or former government officials, others are written by legal experts, researchers and economists, think tanks and NGOs. The book covers a wide range of topics – from current trends in investor-state arbitration to the wider ramifications of investment treaties on sovereign debt restructuring, the extractive industry, intellectual property rights and human rights. It is very rare to find contributions by authors from such diverse backgrounds in a single publication.
Fuel the dialogue
“The book fills an important void in our understanding of bilateral investment treaty regime that has evolved over the decades. I hope that this free-to-download publication will trigger a constructive public debate on the nature and the quality of cross-border investments. I am sure that such a debate will facilitate cross-border investment flows which are benign and consistent with the interests of the people at large in the recipient countries”, says E. A. S. Sarma, Former Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.
Read more about this subject
External link / 6 January 2022
News / 6 January 2022
"The mangroves were choking, gasping for air. When the dam was partially opened, they could finally breathe again. It was the breath that the animals, the fish in the rivers, the crabs, shrimps and oysters had all been craving."
On the northeast coast of Brazil, activities have been underway since 2007 to develop and extend the port of Suape. The port is being developed partly to support oil drilling along the Brazilian coast. The project is controversial because of the disastrous impact it is having on the natural environment, the rivers, the mangroves, marine life and the people who have lived in the region for many generations. Together with Fórum Suape, specially set up to combat the development of the port, Both Ends has been working for almost ten years to protect the rights of local communities in and around Suape. Now there has been a breakthrough – literally. In August of last year, a controversial dam in the Rio Tatuoca that was destroying the mangroves and the aquatic life in the area was partially dismantled. We spoke to Mariana Vidal,* project coordinator at Fórum Suape, about how that came about and what changes have taken place in the area since.
News / 23 December 2021
2022 is the year for FMO to make good on its promises and provide financial support only to sustainable development
2021 was a turbulent year for Dutch development bank FMO, to say the least. The bank has been under fire for many years for investments linked to human rights violations and suspected corruption. But in the past year, the Dutch press and media have reported on one new development after the other in ongoing cases involving FMO. Below we give a short summary of these cases and call on FMO to make the promised improvements in 2022.
News / 21 December 2021
In Ghana, the effects of climate change are already tangible, just like in many countries around the world. How to ensure that these different experiences are heard and known by the Ghanaian government so that it will take actions that have a positive effect on people and their environment? And how to make local communities aware that they can hold the government accountable - and even have the responsibility to do so? During COP26 in Glasgow we spoke with Kenneth Nana Amoateng (47) and Richard Matey (30). Kenneth works at the AbibiNsroma Foundation, a local NGO, and took it as his mission to advocate for a healthy environment, climate change, and to give young people opportunities. Richard is part of that younger generation and works at the Alliance for Empowering Rural Communities in Ghana.
External link / 14 December 2021
Launched in 2016, GAGGA is a consortium led by Fondo Centroamericano de Mujeres in collaboration with Mama Cash and Both ENDS. GAGGA rallies the collective power of gender, climate and environmental justice movements around the world. Watch the video to learn more about what GAGGA does and who's involved.
Blog / 10 December 2021
Pharmaceuticals hold on to their patents and (our) governments do not remove the barriers to free production that were raised under international trade agreements years ago.
Event / 7 December 2021, 14:00 - 15:15
The European Union's (EU) foreign trade policy has many implications for the sustainability of food systems in developing countries, heavily impacting farmers, breeders, and citizens. The unhidden promotion by the EU of strong intellectual property rights on plants affects food systems from its very basis, i.e., the seeds that are available for farmers to grow. Amongst these intellectual property rights, the main instrument that is advocated by European authorities is the 1991 Act of the UPOV Convention, which provides exclusive rights to breeders over the propagating material of new plant varieties, while diminishing the rights of others to use the material for further breeding and hampering with the rights of farmers to freely save, use, exchange and sell their seeds.
Publication / 29 November 2021
News / 22 November 2021
Export support – and especially that to fossil projects – has been in the spotlights quite often recently. This is a positive development, because the Netherlands alone provides fossil export support worth 1.5 billion euros per year. At the climate summit in Glasgow, the United Kingdom launched a statement promising to stop providing export support to fossil projects by the end of 2022. After having denied at first, the Netherlands decided to join the statement after all – which now has already been signed by nearly forty countries and financial institutions.
External link / 17 November 2021
Julio Bichehe Erneste of Farmers Union Cabo Delgado Mozambique (UPC) on a side event of COP26 in Glasgow, speaking about the negative impacts of export support for fossil fuel projects for local people and their enrironment, and about the need to support renewable energy projects instead.
News / 8 November 2021
Both ENDS and SOMO condemn violence against Indigenous community near the Barro Blanco dam in Panama
Members of the Indigenous Ngäbe Buglé people were brutally attacked by Panamanian police on Friday 29 October 2021 from a parcel of private land near the FMO-financed Barro Blanco hydroelectric dam. The victims, all members of the anti-dam movement M22, had peacefully occupied the land after their protest camp got dismantled in July this year.
News / 8 November 2021
Today, the Netherlands announced that it will join a leading group of countries, including the United States, Canada and Italy, which declared that they would stop international support for fossil energy projects. At the day of the launch of the declaration at the climate summit in Glasgow on the 4th of November, the Netherlands had no intention of joining, but because of pressure from civil society and political parties, the responsible ministries decided to sign after all. Both ENDS, together with organizations at home and abroad, has been pushing for this for years, and we are very happy with this step. We will of course continue to monitor developments.
Event / 6 November 2021, 13:00 - 15:00
This Saturday, November 6, people all over the world will take to the streets again to make a stand for the climate. In the Netherlands, the Climate March will take place in Amsterdam, and of course Both ENDS will join. We call on everyone who is concerned about the climate, to walk along with thousands of like-minded people and make this the largest Climate March in history!
Event / 4 November 2021, 16:45 - 18:00
UNFCCC COP 26 side event ‘Aligning export finance with the Paris Agreement: high time to phase out fossil fuels’
Many countries heavily support fossil fuel investments abroad through their export credit agency (ECA). This contributes to carbon lock- in, whereby companies or even countries commit themselves to a certain amount of greenhouse gas emissions for the lifetime of the infrastructure — oftentimes years or even decades. This seriously delays the transition to renewable energy sources, and is certainly not in line with Art. 2.1c of the Paris Agreement.
Highlighting the impacts caused by export finance in the global South, this side event will provide concrete recommendations to decarbonize export credit agencies.
Event / 4 November 2021, 13:15 - 14:30
With gender-responsiveness a work in progress, current climate funds are hardly accessible for women-led community based organizations. While these groups lack access to finance and decision-making, they already lead bold holistic gender-just climate solutions and initiatives worth funding support.
Follow this event live on YouTube!
Publication / 2 November 2021
External link / 31 October 2021
In this short video, Niels Hazekamp of Both ENDS talks about how the Netherlands stimulates projects related to the fossil sector abroad through its export credit agency (ECA) Atradius DSB. The ECA provides export credit insurance for very large-scale and high-risk activities abroad. About two thirds of this export support (worth around 1.5 billion euros per year) is going to the fossil fuel sector. Absurd, at a time when the whole world has to make the transition to sustainable energy. Our country should not support the fossil, but the renewable energy sector with such guarantees, and grab that chance of 1.5 billion!
Press release / 26 October 2021
Today, on the eve of the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, the fossil fuel divest-invest movement released a new report that details how institutions representing an unprecedented total of EUR 33.7 trillion worth of assets have now committed to some form of fossil fuel divestment, a figure that's higher than the annual GDP of the United States and China combined.
Publication / 26 October 2021
Event / 25 October 2021, 14:30 - 18:00