03 March 2015

Watch: Sen. Elisabeth Warren slams investor rights clause

"Giving foreign corporations special rights to challenge our laws outside of our legal system would be a bad deal."

Simon McKeagney, Editor

The popular Democratic Senator from Massachusetts has spoken scathingly against the controversial Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) this week in the US Senate and in an Op-Ed in the Washington Post. Referring to its inclusion in the sister agreement to TTIP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is due for completion soon with 11 Pacific nations, Warren said: 

‘ISDS advocates point out that, so far, this process hasn’t harmed the United States. And our negotiators, who refuse to share the text of the TPP publicly, assure us that it will include a bigger, better version of ISDS that will protect our ability to regulate in the public interest. But with the number of ISDS cases exploding and more and more multinational corporations headquartered abroad, it is only a matter of time before such a challenge does serious damage here. Replacing the U.S. legal system with a complex and unnecessary alternative — on the assumption that nothing could possibly go wrong — seems like a really bad idea.’

Warren’s remarks reflect many of the criticisms European academics and lawyers have made in recent days, including the prominent Finnish Prof. Martti Koskenniemi and Prof. Harm Schepel who spoke in the European Parliament on Monday. Koskenniemi believes that the ISDS mechanism is “completely unnecessary” and that there was “no reason whatsoever” that investor cases couldn’t be heard in EU or US courts.  

Remarking on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Koskenniemi noted that of the 35 or so ISDS cases the US took against Canada, “every conceivable aspect of Canadian society” was attacked, from patent laws, to mining permits, to environmental and health regulation. He warned that the EU could become a “sitting duck” for such claims, and said that EU politicians were not measuring the impact of the costs of ISDS, both financially and in terms of remarkably strengthening the bargaining power of international corporations. 

Read: Washington Post Op-Ed

Watch: ISDS in EU & International Law, conference with Prof. Martti Koskenniemi and Prof. Harm Schepel, European Parliament here.

Watch Warren’s full clip:  

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