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The Latin American coordinator of the Inter-American Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development (PIDHDD) Pablo de la Vega, exposed the “combined strategy of several transnational corporations, law firms specialized in arbitration, and even experts on these issues, to file legal complaints against States”.
In interview with Real World Radio he cited a “very illustrative phrase on how perverse these processes are. It was said that there is no point in filing a complaint before a tribunal when the trial takes places in hell”. He was referring to the settlement of disputes between investors and states that are brought before tribunals such as the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank agency.
Pablo de la Vega is participating in the international workshop “Alternatives to the International Investment Protection Treaty System and the Dispute Settlement Mechanisms between Transnational Corporations and States”, held last Thursday and Friday in Guayaquil, Ecuador. The meeting is organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, the National Secretariat of Planning and Development and the Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control of Ecuador. Other calling organizations include the Latin American Network on Debt, Development and Rights (LATINDADD), German foundation Friedrich Ebert, the Latin American Institute of Social Sciences (ILDIS), Ecuadorian Network Jubilee 2000 and the Hemispheric Social Alliance.
The participants and speakers of the different workshops included experts from social movements and organizations, governments and many Latin American countries.
“Ultimately, the ones who will make the decision, the arbitrators and lawyers that participate in the litigation, have strong links with transnational corporations. The States have no capacity or they realize too late about the unequal relation in these processes that are being brought before tribunals such as ICSID”, said Vega.
The Latin America and the Caribbean coordinator of the PIDHDD named some cases lost by the Ecuadorian state that forced it to pay hundreds of millions of dollars of indemnity to big transnational corporations.
“The worst thing here is the impact on the communities. The PIDHDD had the chance to attend an international verification mission in El Salvador a few months back in the border between El Salvador and Guatemala, to take a look at the impact of Canadian corporation Pacific Rim in the exploration and extraction of gold-related minerals”, said Vega. About Pacific Rim’s actions in particular, he said there is “constant pressure and intimidation against the local residents and the attempt to divide social movements, even by harassing allies or journalists, besides the pressure and threats against the Salvadorian government”.
The human rights defender said the mining corporation announced it would file a lawsuit against the Salvadorian state over a compensation that could amount to up to 350 million USD.
“Este triunfo de Uruguay debe ser un llamado urgente a analizar, revisar, renegociar o anular cuando corresponda todos los tratados bilaterales de comercio y de protección de inversiones que ha suscrito el país, antes de exponernos a nuevas demandas en las que podemos correr con distinta suerte que en la recién finalizada”.
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