Another ISDS Ruling to Punish for Environmental Protections… Last week’s blog explored the latest ISDS lawsuit against Canada under NAFTA, another loss for global environmental protections. A US corporation’s proposal to greatly enlarge an extraction operation, near the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia, was rejected by Canada because of multiple ecosystem, species and livelihood risks. The trade tribunal sided with the corporation and the company seeks $300 million compensation from Canadians for loss of anticipated resource profits.
Quarry Region Full of Life… Digby’s Neck, Nova Scotia, a fifty-eight kilometre peninsula connected to the Bay of Fundy, is home to at-risk whales and marine life: Atlantic Salmon, Blue Whales, Leatherback Turtles, including the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. The region is also a migratory stop for millions of birds like Harlequin Ducks and the Common Loon, and breeding ground for numerous species. The area’s economy is based in eco-tourism. The joint provincial-federal panel felt after detailed study, gathered from environmental assessment and local input, that the proposal did not reflect core community values. With the length and scope of the extraction, including a water terminal to ship the basalt through the Bay to the States, it was unclear how serious economic-ecological risk could be adequately avoided.
A Corporate Court System… Across the globe, in places as diverse as Australia, Germany, Columbia, South Korea and Digby’s Neck, un-elected, for-profit ISDS lawyers are ordering countries to pay compensation to corporations for not fostering profits expected through trade deals. Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, labelled this a “corporate court system”. Last week, a trade tribunal of three corporate lawyers (one of whom disagreed) fined Canadians for the their government’s attempt to protect an at-risk watershed instead of giving a rock contract to the US company, Bilcon. The term corporate court system is applicable.
Verdict: ISDS Irrepairable… Trade justice is about protecting ecosystems from corporate trade tribunals that circumvent national and local environmental protections. We would be wise to re-evaluate an international court system that limits our ability to protect species and evaluate disputes only for the side of private profit. Trade that is truly for the next generation, would take steps to protect at-risk species for all of us, and the little people not yet on the planet. Trade whose goal was enhancing value in communities, now and into the future, would not punish governments for achieving their duty of protecting community interests.
The Dinosaur… The walk of the dinosaur is about 150 million years longer than what humans have achieved so far. If we intend to lengthen our stay, we need a far more balanced plan of international law than one designed to protect the profits of transnational corporations at the expense of ecosystems, species, and human-culture communities. With its legalization of profit-at-all-costs, ISDS puts the human species at risk.
Further Reading: Global Justice Now