Think twice before signing investor to state dispute settlement treaties

May 16, 2013
By Ante

If countries do not want to defend themselves in investor to state dispute settlement (ISDR) cases, they better think twice before signing them, Mr H. Lee-Makiyama said yesterday. In that case, they better also think twice before giving the Commission a mandate to negotiate a trade agreement with the US, as they may not have a veto on the outcome.

Mr Lee-Makiyama, director of the European Centre for International Political Economy, was a panelist at member of European Parliament Marietje Schaake’s event “What role for intellectual property rights in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership“. (TTIP)

He said that trade agreements are not civil law, and should not be read as civil law. There is no country in the world that respects all rules in trade agreements, including the EU, he said.

Investor to state dispute settlement cases are decided by lawyers, who interpret international agreements as contracts. Could the rise in ISDR cases be related to interpreting agreements much stricter than they were ever meant? There is a goldmine for lawyers and adventurers then.

I asked Mr Lee-Makiyama whether ISDR is a game changer in the interpretation of international agreements. After giving some historical background, he said countries better think twice before signing investor to state dispute settlement treaties.

As noted earlier, the member states of the EU may not have a veto on the proposed trade agreement with the US, they may like to think twice before giving the Commission a mandate to negotiate.

Mr B. Hugenholtz (director of IvIR) said that intellectual property rights are not primarily a trade issue and that the most important reason not to include intellectual property rights in the trade agreement with the US is that it will lock in our societies, blocking reform.

Mr R. Schlegelmilch (Commission, DG Trade) said the Commission does not want copyright rules in the agreement, but only enforcement practice. In response, Raegan MacDonald from Access noted that in ACTA privatised enforcement practice was one of the most controversial issues.

Mr Schlegelmilch said the EU and the US will negotiate the agreement in secret because that is more easy.

Comments are closed.