Reformed ISDS

The investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism has come under fire in the past few years. As a result of many controversial cases, civil society groups, international organisations, academics, lawyers and state officials have argued that the arbitration process has had a negative impact on public interest and is need of reform or should be scrapped altogether.

Therefore tweaked versions of the system have been proposed to avoid the most undesired “side effects” of standard ISDS rules. At least 45 countries and four regional blocs are revising or have recently revised their investment model agreements.

In 2012, South Africa, the government started to withdraw from its bilateral investment treaties and amended domestic legislation to make it compatible with BIT-like investor protections while incorporating exceptions where warranted by public interest considerations.

In 2014, Indonesia decided to terminate 67 bilateral investment treaties and has also been developing a new model BIT that supposedly reflects a more balanced approach between the country’s right to regulate and foreigner investor protection.

In 2015, the European Commission established a new ’Investment Court System’ to replace the current ISDS mechanism in its trade deals. The ICS has been incorporated in the EU deals with Canada (CETA) and Vietnam. It has also been proposed for the ongoing negotiations with Mexico, the Philippines and the US (TTIP). However many critics claim that this new system is largely window-dressing.

In December 2015, India released a revised model BIT which, for instance, requires investors to exhaust domestic remedies (Indian courts) before turning to international arbitration and leaves out “fair and equitable treatment” provisions.

In 2016, members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) (Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland) amended the SADC Finance and Investment Protocol that included ISDS provisions. The amendments eliminate the ISDS mechanism (only state-to-state arbitration remains) and narrow the scope of investors’ rights, including exclusion of “fair and equitable treatment”, limitations to “national treatment” to allow for local preferences, obligation for investors to follow host state domestic law and exception from investment rules for policies enacted to comply with international treaties.

In South America, experts from the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) have been developing an investment settlement centre, as an alternative to the World Bank’s ICSID.

February 2017

Meta | 11-Mar-2019
The treaty is also a direct opposite of the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanisms adopted in trade deals, as they expand the powers of transnational corporations.
IIED | 23-Feb-2019
Existing arrangements for third parties to participate in investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) are not designed to protect people whose rights and interests are directly at stake.
The Citizen | 12-Feb-2019
Tanzania has embarked on process of regulation of its foreign investment regime by enacting legislation, which exclude international arbitration.
WeMove.EU | 11-Feb-2019
Los acuerdos de comercio e inversión de hoy otorgan a las empresas transnacionales derechos especiales de gran alcance y el acceso a un sistema de justicia paralelo para hacerlos valer.
No al TTIP | 23-Jan-2019
"Los acuerdos de comercio e inversión de hoy otorgan a las empresas transnacionales derechos especiales de gran alcance y el acceso a un sistema paralelo de justicia para hacerlos valer. Pedimos a la UE y a los Estados miembro poner fin a estos privilegios saliendo de los tratados de comercio e inversión existentes que contengan el ISDS"
European Commission | 18-Jan-2019
The EU and its Member States submitted two papers to the UN Working Group under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).
European Papers | 15-Jan-2019
If the European Court of Justice applied in Opinion 1/17 the same test it used in Achmea, it would probably conclude that the CETA tribunal is not compatible with EU law.
IISD | 15-Jan-2019
El Grupo de Trabajo III de la CNUDMI se reunió en Viena desde el 29 de octubre hasta el 2 de noviembre de 2018, y decidió que es conveniente realizar una reforma multilateral para abordar varias inquietudes en torno a la ISDS.
IISD | 15-Jan-2019
UNCITRAL Working Group III met in Vienna from October 29 to November 2, 2018 and decided that multilateral reform is desirable to address various concerns regarding ISDS.
IISD | 15-Jan-2019
Le Groupe de travail III de la CNUDCI s’est réuni à Vienne du 29 octobre au 2 novembre 2018, et a décidé qu’une réforme multilatérale était souhaitable en vue de répondre à diverses préoccupations portant sur le RDIE.

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