Imagine an environmentally or socially destructive corporate project – say, a toxic mine, which could poison your local supply of water, or a luxury real estate project, which would displace hundreds of people. You and your community oppose the plans, the courts judge in your favor and the project is stopped. Seems like a community victory, right? But then the company behind the project sues your country for interfering with its profits, demanding millions or even billions in compensation. The lawsuit takes place in a biased pseudo court where rulings are so financially devastating for countries that many respond by offering vast concessions, such as rolling back their own laws.
Sadly, you do not need to imagine any of this. It is the reality. Under the ISDS (investor-state disputes settlement) parallel justice system, corporations and companies can sue countries when they think that government decisions or court rulings impacts their profits. A new report by the Transnational Institute, Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth Europe and Friends of the Earth International provides an in depth investigation of ten recent ISDS cases.
After Colombia’s Constitutional Court banned mining activities in a sensitive ecosystem which provides drinking water for millions of Colombians, Canadian mining company Eco Oro sued the country for US$764 million in damages. When Croatian courts cancelled illegal permits issued for a luxury golf resort in the city of Dubrovnik, Croatia was hit with a US$500 million compensation claim. Romania is defending itself from a shocking US$5.7 billion claim by Canadian mining company Gabriel Resources, after the country’s courts declared the company’s proposed toxic Roşia Montana gold mine illegal. These are just three of ten noteworthy cases detailed in this report, which have been filed, threatened or concluded since 2015.
This report uncovers the human stories behind the often secretive ISDS process. A process which totals almost 1,000 known of cases to date, in which governments have been sued for a total of more than US$623 billion in claims. It is time to stop these courts that provide the red carpet treatment for corporations.
See the report below and more details about these ISDS cases on the dedicated website.