Investor-related Dispute Settlement: Towards Comprehensive Accountability & Inclusive Access to Remedy

The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) are pleased to release a briefer on Investment-related Dispute Settlement: Towards Comprehensive Accountability and Inclusive Access to Remedy. 

Trade and investment can be a potentially powerful tool to support economic growth, job creation, and the realization of human rights. Yet, the rules that govern the global trade and investment regime are not written in a manner that enable or allow for inclusive growth and sustainable development. At present, we are faced with a system that prioritizes corporate rights over human rights, and as a result, there has been an increasing worldwide backlash against globalization and its ill effects.

As the international community continues to interrogate the benefits of globalization, it is time for all governments to critically reflect on the impacts of the global trade and investment regime on human rights, inequality, and sustainable development. Structural changes to the trade and investment regime should be prioritized to ensure that it benefits all, this includes addressing the negative impacts of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clauses.

There is also a growing international awareness that in order for trade and investment to foster inclusive, sustainable, and climate-neutral growth, international investment agreements must be tailored to better protect human rights and the environment. As the fissures in the global economic order continue to deepen, now is a critical moment to reassess the human rights impacts of trade provisions, with the goal of making global trade more beneficial for all. Addressing ISDS and its negative impacts on human rights will be a first step towards achieving this goal.

This document is intended to provide an overview of the ISDS system; present leading critiques on the negative impacts of ISDS in undermining State sovereignty and the State duty to protect human rights; and highlight current State practice in disengaging with the ISDS system, revising bilateral trade agreements, and revising the ISDS system. 

It will serve as a background note to a parallel event to the 35th UN Human Rights Council Session, entitled Investment-related Dispute Settlement: Towards comprehensive accountability and inclusive access to remedy, co-hosted by ICAR, SOMO, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).