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The COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest health and economic crisis in a generation. Some governments are taking extraordinary measures to fight the pandemic, in order to save lives, protect jobs, and avoid economic disaster. But the little known Investor State Dispute Settlement system, or ISDS, included in many trade deals, could pressure governments to roll back public interest measures, or pay millions in compensation to corporations.

ISDS allows foreign companies to sue governments for measures that might impact their profits.

When a government adopts a policy that affects a foreign company’s profits, they can take that government to arbitration to cover their perceived financial loss. ISDS cases could arise from COVID-19 responses, such as restrictions requiring businesses to close, the use of private hospitals, making medicines and tests affordable and debt restructuring.

Over 600 civil society organisations from across the world have come together to make the following demands.

  1. Suspend all current ISDS cases during the COVID crisis;
  2. Terminate existing agreements with ISDS;
  3. Stop signing any future agreements that include ISDS.

If we work together, we can ensure that public money is kept out of the hands of private companies, and instead is spent where it is most needed: protecting people from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read the full letter on Seattle to Brussels Network website.