considering the recent avalanche of claims against our countries in



considering the recent avalanche of claims against our countries in
JUNE 2016
We, the organizations and civil society networks that sign this declaration, express our rejection of the
increasing power of transnational companies, supported by various free trade and investment
agreements that have been negotiated and signed in the Americas, which will increase with the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership(TTIP), the EU-Canada
Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, as well as the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). We
hold that these agreements only consolidate the power of corporations across the world and in particular in
signatory countries, undermining both the rights of people and environmental conservation efforts.
At present, most countries in our hemisphere, from Canada to Argentina, are being exponentially
targeted with multimillion dollar claims from corporations which arise from the enactment of
regulations designed in the public interest or in support of the environment. This illustrates the
damaging effects that the system of investment protection and international arbitration has on national
Corporate power has taken shape in an international legal system which confers it with omnipotent
and abusive rights and which guarantees it impunity. This is embodied in the inclusion of investor-state
dispute settlement clauses, which allow investors to fall back on the international arbitration system than of
national courts. Thus, investors make claims against sovereign states for millions of dollars in secret and
private arbitration “tribunals” (the World Bank´s ICSID, the ICC and the SCC, among others) which operate
outside the reach of local law. Opposing this, governments and citizens have no legal counterweight and no
higher international authorities before which to launch proceedings when transnational company activities
violate human and environmental rights or interfere with public policies which serve the common good.
Free trade and investment treaties undermine states´ ability to regulate: their rules are not consistent
with human rights and environmental protection and do not respect the sovereign right of countries
to implement responsible public policies. BITs contain clauses which limit the capacity of receiving
governments to act in support of sustainable economic development, to protect the environment and public
health, to defend their countries from financial crises and to privilege human rights. This has become evident
in high-profile cases such as the claim with Philip Morris placed against Uruguay in respect of a health
protection policy, arguing that it violated the investment´s intellectual property, a right incorporated in the
Uruguay-Switzerland investment treaty.
Likewise, extractive sector corporations, such as those in petroleum and mining, take enormous
advantage of these treaties. Following one of the largest verdicts in history, Ecuador is being obliged to
pay USD1billion plus interest to the United States corporation, Occidental Petroleum (Oxy), for canceling an
operating contract in 2006. The same country is required to pay USD700 million to Chevron, also a US
More recently, an avalanche of claims has been received from the destructive extractive sector,
challenging public policies which aim to converse the environment and protect the rights of communities.
Some examples include:
Pacific Rim versus El Salvador: El Salvador, which is the most water-stressed country in the
continent, decided against granting the company a license to mine for gold because the company
did not meet environmental requirements. The claim is for more than USD250 million.
Crystallex versusVenezuela: Venezuela suspended this Canadian company´s permit for the Las
Cristinas mining project because of environmental concerns,especially following protests by the
indigenous population of the Imataca Forest Reserve. In April 2016 the ICSID ruled that Venezuela
compensate the company in the amount of USD1.386 billion.
Renco Group versus Peru and Bear Creek versus Peru: The North American company Renco
placed a claim against Peru in 2011 for USD800 million because the government revoked its permit
to operate a smelter for highly contaminating metals in La Oroya, one of the most polluted sites in
the world. The Canadian mining company Bear Creek claimed USD1.2 million from Peru because in
2011 the State rescinded the contract to operate the Santa Ana mining project, following
environmental protection protests which led to the deaths of several people.
Infinito Gold versus Costa Rica: The Canadian company claimed USD94 million for having been
impeded from continuing to exploit an open pit mine (the Crucitas project). The mining permit had
been signed by the State in 2008 and was revoked in 2010 after a court found irregularities and
influence peddling in the permits. The same court ordered the company to compensate for
environmental damage (the felling of protected forests). Following this verdict, the company sued the
State through the ICSID. The company sold all its assets in the country, preventing payment of the
environmental damage compensation. In 2015, the Infinito Gold executives resigned because of the
sharpfall in share value and the risk of bankruptcy. In spite of the company´s circumstances, the
ICSID maintains the claim against Costa Rica active.
Dominion Minerals versus Panama: The North America company sued Panama for USD268 million
for the withdrawal of a mining license because of the rejection of its operation by an indigenous
group and for environmental protection.
TransCanada versus United States: The Canadian company has announced that it will sue the
United States for USD15 billion because of the decision by President Barack Obama to reject the
Keystone XL Pipeline System after giving in to the pressure and an overwhelming rejection by the
Lone Pine versus Canada and Bilcon versus Canada: The North American company has claimed
USD 118 million from Canada for a preventive moratorium on fracking enacted by Quebec Province.
Canada has also been sued by the North American Bilcon because of environmental impact studies
which indicated that a quarry and marine terminal construction project in an ecologically sensitive
coastal zone was not sustainable. The US company is claiming USD300 million in compensation.
Glencore vs. Colombia: Colombia has faced a claim in 2016 by the Swiss mining company
Glencore. The company asked for the reduction of the payment of royalties, which was rejected by
the State, who also started the revision of the contract. Glencore considered this act as a change of
rules and an expropriation, and so filed a claim against Colombia under the rules of the ColombiaSwitzerland BIT. Colombia is also facing the menace of new claims by other three mining companies:
Eco Oro Minerals (Canada), Cosigo Resources (Canada) and Tobie Mining and Energy Inc. (USA).
These cases are all examples. Claims by investors against states have exploded in the last two decades:
from a total of three known cases under treaties in 1995, to 696 known cases today. In 2015 alone, 70 new
cases were presented through the investor-Estate dispute settlement mechanism. To that point, countries
from the Americas collectively represented 35% of the claims made by investors registered by the
ICSID. Argentina, Mexico, Ecuador and Venezuela have been sued the most frequently.
It is important to stress that States always lose in the international arbitration system, because the
claims cost millions of dollars in expenses associated with the defense and the process. Even though
in some cases the arbitration panels do not find against the State, the suit implies excessive costs in the
contracting of firms of lawyers, which can charge up to USD300 per hour for their advice. Peru is carrying
USD50 million in the contracting of two firms of US lawyers for its defense against the four claims of which it
is the subject; Ecuador spent more than USD100 million in its defense and in arbitration costs; for its part, El
Salvador has spent more than USD12 million just to defend itself against the miner Pacific Rim. These
astronomical amounts could have been used for the most urgent public expenditures, instead of being
allocated to cover the costs of the suits. On the other hand, where the verdicts have gone against the State,
the claims represent astronomical amounts which become new forms of external debt. The recent
announcement by the Government of Argentina that it will advance payment of nine claims by companies
through the ICSID with bonds payable in 2024 is an example.
At the same time, Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela have left ICSID and have begun a process of denouncing
some of their investment treaties. Nevertheless, they will continue to receive claims from investors who are
protected under sunset clauses of the investment treaties. This shows that these treaties are above
sovereign state decisions, since they allow investors to continue presenting claims for a residual period
which in many cases is over 10 years.
Therefore, the power of transnational corporations must be dismantled as a matter of urgency. This
need to regulate corporate power comes not only from social movements, but also from various
governments, parliaments and even international organizations. Likewise, it is essential that there be a
binding international code for transnational companies (and other business companies) which
obliges them to respect human rights and equips those affected and States with mechanisms and
institutions of enforcement.
We demand that all governments of our hemisphere:
Immediately address our claim for establishing alternative systems for dispute resolution, in which
Investor-State clauses are annulled, affected communities and citizens are included and in which
disputes raised by investors are dealt with by national courts and according to the laws of the
receiving country.
Abolish the privileges for foreign investors under these free trade and investment treaties and
guarantee States the space to implement responsible public policies.
Generate new rules for investors in which human rights are paramount and the environmental
protection is guaranteed above the rights of investors.
Continental Investment Working Group
ATTAC – Argentina
Democracy Center – Bolivia
Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales (CDES) - Ecuador
Comisión Nacional de Enlace (CNE) – Costa Rica
Ecuador Decide – Ecuador
Latin American InstituteforanAlternativeSociety and anAlternativeLaw (ILSA) – Colombia
Instituto EQUIT, Gênero, Economia e Cidadania Global – Brasil
Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) – United States
REDES / Friends of the Earth – Uruguay
Red Latinoamericana sobre Deuda, Desarrollo y Derechos (LATINDADD)
Red Mexicana de Acción contra el Libre Comercio (RMALC) – Mexico
Réseauquébécoissurl´integration continentale (RQIC) – Quebec
Member organizations:
Asociación Nacional de Industriales de Transformación (ANIT) – México
Asociación Latinoamericana de Medicina Social (ALAMES) – Ecuador
BASE Investigaciones Sociales (BASE IS) – Paraguay
CADTM - AYNA (Comité para la Abolición de las Deudas Ilegítimas - AbyaYala /Nuestra América)
Campaña “Chile Mejor sin TPP” – Chile
Centro de Estudios del Trabajo – Colombia
Centro de Estudios para el Cambio Social (CECS) – Argentina
Colectivo Viento Sur – Chile
Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos – República Dominicana
CommonFrontiers – Canadá
Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador (CONAIE) – Ecuador
Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas de la Amazonía Ecuatoriana (CONFENIAE) – Ecuador
Convergencia México mejor sin TPP – México
Escuela Sindical Nuestra América (ESNA)
Etica en los Bosques – Chile
Federación Judicial Argentina (FJA) – Argentina
FederazioneOrganismiCristiani di ServizioInternazionaleVolontario (FOCSIV) – Italia
Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN) – México
ForoSaludPública– Ecuador
Fundación de estudios para la aplicación del derecho (FESPAD) – El Salvador
Instituto de Estudios y Formación (IEF)- Central de los Trabajadores Argentinos Autónoma – Argentina
Mesa Nacional frente a la Minería Metálica - El Salvador
Observatorio Latinoamericano de Conflictos Ambientales (OLCA) – Chile
Plataforma de Defensa del Haití para el Desarrollo Alternativo (PAPDA) – Haití
Rede Brasileira pela Integraçao dos Povos (REBRIP) – Brasil
Red de Ambientalistas Comunitarios (RACDES) – El Salvador
Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y sus Alternativas para América Latina (RAPAL) – Chile
Red Nacional Género y Economía (REDGE) – México
Secretaría de Derechos Humanos - Central de los Trabajadores Argentinos Autónoma – Argentina
SERR – Estados Unidos
Siglo XXIII – El Salvador
TransnationalInstitute – Amsterdam
Unión de Afectados por Texaco (UDAPT) – Ecuador

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