Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) aka ICS: an attack on democracy


Dozens of organisations and concerned individuals have signed a statement calling on the European Union, the United States and Canada to drop any form of ISDS from their trade treaties and treaty negotiations.

The European Commission – claiming to have listened to public opinion – has produced a proposal for a ‘new’ Investment Court System (ICS) that would allegedly replace the ‘old’ ISDS in all on-going and future investment negotiations. However, the proposed changes are simply a rebranding of the old ISDS system. The EU has not addressed the key problems of the ISDS and ICS systems both of which undermine democratic decision-making.

Principal amongst these is that both ISDS and ICS can force governments to use billions in taxpayers funds to compensate corporations for public health, environmental, labour and other public interest policies, government actions and even court rulings. They do not ensure that private interests cannot undermine public policy objectives.

The Commission’s claims that ICS addresses these issues is simply a lie: nothing in the ‘new’ system protects the right of governments to legislate in the public interest. They will continue to be vulnerable to unlimited retrospective damages against expected profits and interests.

Not only would the inclusion of ISDS/ICS in CETA and TTIP most likely lead to a massive explosion of investment arbitration cases against legitimate policies; their inclusion is a massive blow to democracy, human rights and the rule of law in any trade and investment agreement.

Read the entire text of the statement and the list of signatories on the website of Corporate Europe Observatory