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30 Aug 2016

Chris Hamby, BuzzFeed

The Billion-Dollar Ultimatum

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…Though most people have never heard of it, this justice system has the power to make entire nations fork over hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars to companies…Of all the ways in which ISDS is used, the most deeply hidden are the threats, uttered in private meetings or ominous letters, that invoke those courts. The threats are so powerful they often eliminate the need to actually bring a lawsuit…ISDS is so tilted and unpredictable, and the fines the arbitrators can impose are so catastrophically large, that bowing to a company’s demands, however extreme they may be, can look like the prudent choice…[I]nvestigators for the [Indonesia]’s human rights agency found that authorities had illegally detained people, tortured them, and murdered one [while protecting a Newcrest mine]…[T]he government had violated the people’s economic, social, and cultural rights in allowing Newcrest to mine the sensitive forest area.  The agency wanted the government to re-evaluate the company’s permit.  But human rights agencies had only the power to recommend. Foreign businesses had the power to sue for billions…[Refers to Karaha Bodas Company, Maersk Oil & Tullow Oil].