As the NAFTA renegotiations get underway, we’re demanding an end to the Investor-State Dispute Settlement, known as ISDS, the dangerous clause that allows corporations to sue governments in secretive tribunals of corporate lawyers with little to no oversight.
ISDS is a disaster for working families, the environment, and government sovereignty and must be eliminated from renegotiated NAFTA. It’s going to be a tough battle but we’re determined to win and because of SumOfUs members like you, we’ve got a fighting chance.
It’s clear -- when ISDS is included in a trade deal it means that deal has been hijacked by corporate interests and no longer serves the needs of the people. ISDS is rife with conflicts of interest. One day a corporate lawyer can sit on a tribunal deciding cases and the next day they can attack our laws on behalf of a corporation. Not only do corporations get a special system of “justice” outside our courts, but it’s totally rigged in their favor.
So, what is ISDS, exactly? Known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement, ISDS currently included in NAFTA gives multinational corporations the power to sue governments in a secretive tribunal made up of three corporate lawyers where they can be awarded unlimited sums, including the loss of expected future profits.
This means that if corporate executives decide the U.S., Mexico, or Canada’s laws and policies, put in place to protect workers or the environment, are violating their special NAFTA rights they can then sue these governments and be awarded unlimited sums by corporate lawyers who oversee these secretive tribunals.
In just one example, an ISDS tribunal ordered the Canadian government to pay Exxon-Mobil, the world’s largest oil and gas company, $17.3 million after the company challenged a government guideline that insisted any investors in offshore exploration must invest in local research and development.
ISDS has already cost citizens and working people millions of taxpayer dollars. $392 million, to be exact, has already been paid to corporations from governments thanks to the outcome of ISDS cases under NAFTA. The system is rigged in the favor of corporations to the point that even the threat of an ISDS lawsuit has caused governments to change public policy. What’s worse is that the corporate lawyers' decisions are not subject to appeal.
NAFTA is meant to foster trade between Canada, Mexico, and the United States. In this renegotiation, we need to be vigilant and demand policies that protect the health of our communities and our environment and not let greedy corporate executives bully governments and people so they can continue to rake in massive profits.
We have defeated horrible trade deals before. SumOfUs members were instrumental in putting the Trans-Pacific Partnership on ice. Now we need to use these same tactics to stand up to NAFTA. SumOfUs has already pushed thousands of comments to the U.S. and Canadian governments, and we're planning to take more action to make NAFTA a policy that is good for people, not corporations.
We’ve already seen the devastation caused by unchecked corporate power and personhood. And SumOfUS members like you have taken action against these, often opaque, deals like TPP to put an end to the corporate power era and put the rights, safety, and needs of people first. That’s what we’re here to do and that’s what we’ll keep on doing with your help.