UN rights expert: investor-state dispute settlement ‘incompatible with democracy’

UN rights expert: investor-state dispute settlement ‘incompatible with democracy’

[JURIST] UN expert Alfred de Zayas [official profile] on Tuesday warned against [press release] investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms in trade agreements, saying that they “are incompatible with democracy, the rule of law and human rights.” ISDS mechanisms, which according to Zayas, provide for “privatized or semi-privatized dispute settlement” he warns, work against the public interest and allows calculated risks for profit in accordance with a “ideologically-driven corporate narrative.” He believes that the “Investment Court” proposed in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was signed in New Zealand [JURIST report] in February, is simply a “zombie of ISDS” with many “fundamental flaws.” He concluded his remarks urging the abolishment of ISDS and similar mechanisms. Currently 28 nations are negotiating the TPP.

The development of the TPP has had an impact on US trade laws in the last year, though not without controversy. In February de Zayas urged [JURIST report] governments in the Pacific Rim not to sign the TPP without first “reaffirming … human rights treaty obligations and their recent pledges to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.” However, two days later 12 countries across the Pacific-Rim signed the TPP in New Zealand amid waves of protest. In June the US House of Representatives voted [JURIST report] 286-138 to approve a trade law that provides assistance to workers who lose their jobs to international trade and renews Obama’s authority to negotiate trade deals on behalf of the country. The Trade Preference Extension Act included measures Obama had long pushed for and was seen as clearing the way for him to complete negotiations on the TPP. Also in June South Korea and China signed [JURIST report] a bilateral free trade agreement that will eliminate most tariffs between the two countries, which are not party to the TPP, over the next two decades after about three years of negotiations. In July 2014 the European Court of Justice ruled [JURIST report] that the European Commission was not being sufficiently transparent regarding negotiations with the US on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, which, like the TPP, aims to remove trade barriers between the EU and US.