Corporate lobbyists and CEOs are on the defensive as the United States, Canada, and Mexico consider a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) without the controversial system of special protections for investors known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS).
ISDS has allowed corporations to undermine protections for God’s creation, affordable medicines, and human rights of local communities, all in the name of free trade. The current ISDS system enables transnational corporations to challenge federal and state laws, local land use ordinances and even court decisions meant to serve the common good before arbitration panels of three corporate lawyers.
TAKE ACTION: Ask your state senators and representatives speak out against these special rights for corporations in NAFTA.
Hundreds of legislators across the country have signed on a letter reaffirming the National Conference of State Legislatures’ position in opposition to Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). We still need state legislators from Alabama, Louisiana, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia.
Click here to send a letter to your state senators and representatives.
Maryknoll Missioners have personal experience with ISDS. In Peru in 2016, a Quechua-Aymara organization known as DHUMA (‘Human Rights and the Environment’), funded by Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers and Maryknoll Sisters, submitted a ‘friend of the court’ brief regarding an ISDS case. The Canadian mining company Bear Creek had sued Peru after the government canceled the company’s mining permit in response to community protests that resulted in fatalities by the police. Bear Creek sought reimbursement from Peru for investment losses not only from a current silver mine but also from a mine the company hoped to build.
With the help Maryknoll Sister Patricia Ryan, DHUMA submitted the brief to defend the rights of the Aymara communities to their land, consultation on the project, and protection from irregularities by Bear Creek to secure the permit. In the end, the court decided Peru had to pay Bear Creek a fraction of the $522 million the company requested. But it is the Peruvian people who ultimately foot the bill at the expense of programs that serve the common good.
Ask your state senators and representatives to sign the letter to the U.S. Trade Representative, Ambassador Robert Lighthizer, in support of his efforts to take ISDS out of NAFTA.
Photo: Maryknoll Sister Patricia Ryan (second from right) with leaders of DHUMA in Puno, Peru in 2017.