Socialising losses, privatising gains: how Dutch investment treaties harm the public interest
Dutch investment treaties (BITs) are frequently used by foreign companies to sue governments in the North and South for policies that might harm their future profits. 75% of these cases were brought by mailbox companies with no real economic substance in the Netherlands, making use of the vast web of Dutch BITs and the rights and protection given to foreign investors.
The Netherlands takes a central position in the current debate around BITs and international investment agreements (IIAs). More than 10% of all known investment treaty claims make use of Dutch Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs).The growing controversy surrounding BITs – and in particular the mounting critique of Dutch BITs as being excessively investor-friendly, to the detriment of the policy space of developing countries– has led the Dutch trade department to announce a review of Dutch bilateral investment treaties with developing countries. This paper gives a critical civil society perspective on the clear tension between BITs protections and the democratic right and duty of the state to regulate in the broader public interest.
This paper also discusses the risks that the extensive Dutch BIT network poses for the Netherlands itself. So far, the Netherlands has never been on the receiving end of an ISDS claim, but changing global patterns of investment increase the likelihood of developed countries being sued before ISDS tribunals. The paper concludes with concrete recommendations for a more sustainable and inclusive investment policy.
Read more about this subject
Event / 28 September 2023, 16:00 - 17:30
What does a food system look like that serves the well-being of people and the planet?
While agriculture and livestock food production in the world have become increasingly large-scale, industrial and ever more efficient for decades, the damage and inequality this food system causes is also becoming increasingly clear. Across the world, more and more people are therefore engaged in alternative, sustainable food production that ensures many generations to come to still have access to fertile, healthy land and clean water.
In this talkshow, we highlight some of these examples and hope to fuel the dialogue about this topic.
- Rosinah Mbenya - PELUM Kenya (via Zoom)
- Matt Canfield - University of Leiden
- Ida Simonsen - Dutch UN Youth Representative Biodiversity and Food
- John Arink - Ekoboerderij Arink (biodynamic farmer)
Farid Tabarki - Studio Zeitgeist
Inspired? Join our 'The Future We See' - talkshow on September 28th! You can either attend live or online, quietly listen or actively participate in the discussion - or during the drinks afterwards. We hope to see you there!
Also take a look at our previous session
To get a glimpse of the atmosphere, see a short video of our last session (about economic systems): https://youtu.be/AUNGcROovnc
And to dive in a little deeper, watch this compilation: https://youtu.be/nzuwIREeiNo
News / 21 September 2023
Six out of nine planetary boundaries have been crossed (Stockholm Resilience Centre) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that the world is likely to breach global temperature of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels between now and 2027. COP28 is the moment of the first Global Stocktake, which means the assessment of where we are at in reaching the goals of the Paris Agreement.
News / 18 September 2023
In the heart of Liberia, the Western Region Women Network Association (WERWONA) is scripting a story of resilience, advocacy, and transformation. This journey began in September 2022 when WERWONA, supported by Both ENDS's partner Sustainable Development Institute, embarked on a mission to empower women leaders and communities in Bomi, Grand Cape Mount, and Gbarpolu counties to reclaim their rights to land and natural resources. This shows how the partnership between Both ENDS and local organisations is driving positive change in Liberia.
News / 11 September 2023
Danielle Hirsch, our director, is running as candidate for GroenLinks-PvdA in the parliamentary elections in November this year.
News / 24 August 2023
A wave of international recognition is shedding light on the valuable role that indigenous communities play in looking after our planet's most vital ecosystems. Last night in Vancouver, two of our partners won a grant in the Inclusive GEF Assembly Challenge Program: the ILED Network and AIDER (Peru). Our colleague Eva Schmitz was present to receive the prize on behalf of the ILED Network.
News / 17 July 2023
On 17 and 18 July, representatives of the governments of Latin America, the Caribbean and the European Union meet in Brussels for the EU-CELAC summit. The European Commission and several EU Member States want to use this moment to accelerate the ratification of the trade and investment treaties between the EU and Mexico, the EU and Chile and the EU and the South American Mercosur countries*.
Letter / 26 June 2023
CSO reject EU policy reform that would legalize EU trade sanctions against developing countries, based on their migration policies
An important trade and development policy tool of the EU is the Generalized Scheme of Preferences (GSP), which allows developing countries to export goods to the EU at low or no tariffs. The current GSP Regulation is to expire end of this year.
Publication / 23 June 2023
News / 15 June 2023
In the Jenipapo community, in the north-east region of the Caatinga Biome in Brazil, farmer Fátima Maria dos Santos runs her farm. Fátima is applying the principles of agroecology on her farm by having a cistern that collects rainwater, retaining native vegetation and developing an agroforestry system that comprises of native and fruit trees and crops and medical plants. Fátima is also one of the first farmers to be part of the 'Caderneta Agroecológica' or 'Agroecological Logbook' initiative, that stimulates women farmers to monitor their food production. This way, they get more insights about the value of production for the family, about monetary and non-monetary benefits and the preservation of soil health and biodiversity.
News / 15 June 2023
Even a region like the South American La Plata Basin, known for it's majestic rivers and wetlands, is struggling with drought. A group of organisations united in the Wetlands without Borders network strive to turn the tide.
News / 15 June 2023
Koussanar, in eastern Senegal, is a small town that is expanding rapidly, surrounded by villages still rooted in rural and nomadic life. The region is hot and dry, which is exacerbated by climate change. The soil in the region is also dry and often exhausted due to a combination of factors such as unsustainable agricultural practices, (peanut) monoculture, intensive agriculture, forest fires and overgrazing. Today, however, the region's farmers and nomadic pastoralists take a different approach. They are working towards a better future by committing to the restoration of degraded land using Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR).
News / 14 June 2023
For decades, the local partner organisations of Both ENDS have been developing and promoting ways to fight land degradation, desertification and drought in their surroundings. And this accounts not only for regions like the Sahel, but also for forests and wetlands. To celebrate the UNCCD's Desertification and Drought Day 2023, we'd like to show a few examples of how our partners restore ecosystems to serve the well-being of people and the environment.
Publication / 25 May 2023
Event / 25 May 2023, 16:00 - 17:30
What does an economy look like that serves the well-being of people and the planet?
A wide range of great ideas about a transition to sustainable and just economic systems already exist, including ways to get there and examples that show that it is really possible. In this talkshow, we highlight some of these examples and hope to fuel the dialogue about this topic.
Inspired? Join our 'The Future We See' - talkshow on May 25th! You can either attend live or online, quietly listen or actively participate in the discussion. We hope to see you there!
Press release / 23 May 2023
On 23 May, the Netherlands celebrates 60 years of bilateral investment treaties (BITs). The first BIT was signed with Tunisia in 1963. These treaties were intended to make an important contribution to protecting foreign investments by Dutch companies. A study by SOMO, Both ENDS and the Transnational Institute (TNI), however, shows that in practice they mainly give multinationals a powerful instrument that has far-reaching consequences people and the environment worldwide.
Publication / 23 May 2023
Letter / 4 May 2023
The Dutch government, through its export credit agency Atradius DSB (ADSB), provides export support to companies that undertake activities abroad. The state wants projects it insures to have no negative consequences for people and the environment and therefore sets requirements for corporate social responsibility (CSR). A consultation on CSR policy ran until the end of April, to which a coalition of thirteen social organisations from the Netherlands and abroad, including Both ENDS and Milieudefensie (Friends of the Earth the Netherlands), responded.
News / 4 May 2023
Our manifesto "The Dutch Agriculture Agreement reaches further than the Netherlands: offer prospects for sustainable farmers and consumers worldwide" has now been signed by over 70 civil society organisations, agricultural organisations and companies, environmental organisations and scientists from around the world. Below, a few of them give their personal motivation why they support the manifesto.
Publication / 24 April 2023
Press release / 21 April 2023
The Dutch Agriculture Agreement, which is currently under development, is too much focused solely on the Netherlands. That is the opinion of a broad coalition of more than sixty NGOs, farmers' organisations, scientists and companies that have today sent an urgent letter to agriculture minister Piet Adema and foreign trade and development minister Liesje Schreinemacher. The government's agricultural policy should also aim to reduce the Netherlands' enormous agrarian footprint beyond our borders, by taking food security and the preservation of biodiversity as its starting points. The coalition has published a manifesto in which it sets out how reform of the Netherlands' foreign agricultural policy could be given shape.