Picture this: You’re involved in a legal case, but when you walk into the courtroom you’re told the case will be settled in secret, by a tribunal of corporate lawyers; furthermore, you can’t appeal the decision, and the results may even be kept from the public.
We shouldn’t accept that as a part of our justice system — so why should we accept it in a trade agreement?
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what corporations are pushing for right now. It’s called investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS, and it gives corporations the power to sue countries outside of their national courts for massive sums of money. The cases are tried in front of a tribunal of three corporate lawyers — that’s it. No judges, no juries.
As the Trump administration begins to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), we need to make sure this absurd system is eliminated so corporations cannot continue to use it to wreak havoc on people and the environment.
ISDS threatens democratic decision-making, and allows corporations to take the government to court if they don’t like certain pieces of legislation, or see them as threats to future profits.
Here’s an example of what it could look like: A Big Tobacco corporation decides it doesn’t like a law that protects the health of millions of people because it cuts into profits. The corporation sues the government that passed that law. Then the corporation only has to convince a panel of three corporate lawyers that the law violates its special rights under NAFTA to overturn the law and be granted millions, even billions of taxpayer dollars.