Trade Tribunals: The Canary in the Mine?
“Mining for Profits in International Tribunals,” a report recently
released by the Institute for Policy Studies, presents evidence that
transnational corporations are litigating for profit in trade tribunals such as
the UNICTRAL (United Nations Commission on International Trade Law) and the ICSID (International Centre for
Settlement of Investment Dispute). In
the process, court rulings favoring corporations are undermining countries’
ability to implement important health, environmental and public safety policies. This gross usage of the tribunals points to
the disturbing role that our current trade agreements have in sacrificing the
public welfare for the corporation’s profit margin.
The report, which examines the international trade tribunal
framework, details how transnational corporations like Chevron and the
Leaders need to take notice of the trend this report reveals
about the larger international trade regime, as these courts are supported by a
system of free trade agreements (FTAs) and bilateral investment treaties
(BITs). The report concludes by saying there tribunals are “just one
illustration of the imbalance in the current rule that govern international
This phenomenon should be the canary in the mine for today’s leaders and serve as a warning about the need to reform the current trade regime, remedy this imbalance and in the end promote public welfare – not corporate profits.