Abolish corporate courts – a world for people not profit - #NoISDS

Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Statement by the European Attac Network 

Corporations and superrich investors are threatening our public services, our access to water and clean energy, and our worker, consumer, and environmental protections. Under modern trade deals, corporations can use an investment tribunal system (often known as ISDS), to challenge governments in secret for passing democratic laws which protect people and planet but threaten corporate profits.

Here in Europe, big businesses have used these ‘corporate courts’ to challenge governments which have tried to renationalise health services, improve environmental standards and stop the construction of a toxic gold mine which local people didn’t want to be built. Around the world, corporations have challenged governments for raising the minimum wage, putting cigarettes in plain packaging to reduce smoking, and setting a reasonable price for energy and water supply.

These corporate court systems remove power from elected representatives to fulfil their mandates and duties to their citizens. They replace our democratic rights with an obsession with big business making profit. These are not public courts, accessible to all citizens, but special tribunals, effectively open only to the richest, and dedicated to the so-called ‘right’ to make profit.  

We stand in solidarity with those governments who have decided to abolish the corporate courts they are subjected to, including Ecuador, South Africa, Indonesia, Tanzania and Bolivia. We hope that, as social movements from around the world, our campaigns can create space for more governments to join them.

We demand that our own governments immediately stop including corporate courts in trade deals, and that they abolish all corporate courts where they already exist. We note the judgement of the European Court of Justice that corporate courts within the EU are in contradiction with EU law. If corporate courts are a problem within the EU, then European governments should not be pushing them on other countries, nor should they be trying to reform this system to make it ‘slightly less bad’. Abolish them now!   

The Attac network was central to the campaigns against the EU-US deal TTIP and the EU-Canada deal CETA. Part of the wave of protests against that deal was a deep public opposition to the idea of ‘corporation courts’. As such we commit ourselves, as part of a European and international campaign, to halt the inclusion of the use of corporate courts and abolish them where they already exist.

Global Justice Now is a member of the Attac network - an international network of organisations that oppose the ultra free-market policies being pushed by the governments of the world’s richest countries. The European campaign against corporate courts was launched yesterday across Europe. In solidarity with the European campaign as well in other parts of the world, Global Justice Now will be a launching a UK campaign to oppose corporate courts in February. This will be part of a UK coalition of organisations including War on Want, Trade Justice Movement, SumOfUS and Traidcraft.

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