ISDS or: why companies sue countries (and how they do it)

18-11-2015 Source: OneWorld
ISDS or: why companies sue countries (and how they do it)
This map shows all the countries which have been sued under ISDS from the Netherlands
Will American companies sue the Dutch government if free trade agreement TTIP becomes a reality? It is possible through the most contentious part in TTIP: ISDS, or Investor State Dispute Settlement. But ISDS is nothing new, it has been around for decades. And guess what? The Netherlands is right at the center of it all.
Investigation – 

ISDS is a means of resolving disputes through arbitration, a kind of privatized court. Investors can seek arbitration if they feel they have been treated unfairly by a host state. Since 2005 the number of claims has surged. To the great concern of developing countries.

Up and till 2014 there had been 629 ISDS cases worldwide. Striking in these cases is the excessive use of Dutch treaties. More than 11 percent of all ISDS cases ever has been carried out on the basis of a Dutch treaty. This right is reserved for Dutch investors. But the data shows that more than two-thirds of them are so-called mailbox companies. Merely 15 percent of the claims have truly originated from a Dutch company.

Interactive map

Many cases are not publicly accessible and even on the public cases there is often very little information to be found. After months of (data-)research we have created a database which has been used to create a unique, interactive map displaying all ISDS cases that have ever been set up against governments. Also the ultimate fines and the corresponding arbitrators (as far as this information was public) can be found in the database. The map with all 629 ISDS cases can be viewed here. We also made an informative video showing how ISDS has developed since the ‘90s. All of which can also be found in the longread. Read now: OneWorld’s investigation into the world of ISDS.

Eva Schram

Eva Schram (1988) is a freelance investigative journalist for OneWorld. Her...

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Adriana Homolova

Adriana is a freelance data journalist for OneWorld.

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