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“Legal and arbitration costs average over US$8 million per investor-state dispute, exceeding US$30 million in some cases. Elite law firms charge as much as US$1,000 per hour, per lawyer – with whole teams handling cases."
This is a quote from the study conducted by the Transnational Institute of the Netherlands (TNI) and Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO), based in Brussels, Belgium, called “Profiting from Injustice” (attached), published in November, 2012.
One of the authors of the study, political expert Cecilia Olivet, of the TNI, was in Montevideo, Uruguay, on Friday, participating in an activity called “Free trade agreements and investments: profits for whom?”, organized by REDES - Friends of the Earth Uruguay, Friends of the Earth International and TNI.
The study conducted by TNI and CEO exposes an entire system of investor-State dispute resolutions, where law firms, judges, financers and transnational corporations benefit each other. That was the focus of Olivet’s presentation at the activity in Montevideo, where activists Karin Nansen and Alberto Villarreal, of REDES-FoE also spoke.
The summary of the study published at TNI’s website adds: “Just 15 arbitrators, nearly all from Europe, the US or Canada, have decided 55% of all known investment-treaty disputes. This small group of lawyers, referred to by some as an ‘inner mafia’, sit on the same arbitration panels, act as both arbitrators and counsels and even call on each other as witnesses in arbitration cases.”
Olivet has worked for years following trade issues, especially Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Investment Protection Agreements (IPAs), the role of the ICSID (International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes - a World Bank body to solve corporations-State controversies), among other issues.
The study by TNI and CEO also states that "The investment arbitration system is becoming increasingly integrated with the speculative financial world, with investment funds helping fund investor-state disputes in exchange for a share in any granted award or settlement."
Meanwhile, Alberto Villarreal, made special reference to the case of the lawsuit filed by US tobacco company Philip Morris against the Uruguayan state due to the anti-tobacco policies of this country. He also spoke about the risks of the signing of IPAs and FTAs for the sovereignty of the country (due to their chapters on investments).
“No queremos ser mártires, no queremos que hayan más mártires en este país, pero también hay una responsabilidad histórica de hacer valer la palabra y demostrar que tenemos derecho a la construcción de un mundo mejor. Y no podemos huir a esa responsabilidad”, dijo a Radio Mundo Real la dirigente garífuna Miriam Miranda, coordinadora de la Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH).
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