[Ip-health] The obscure legal system that lets corporations sue countries

Tahir Amin tahir at i-mak.org
Wed Jun 10 04:00:33 PDT 2015


Claire Provost and Matt Kennard
Fifty years ago, an international legal system was created to protect the
rights of foreign investors. Today, as companies win billions in damages,
insiders say it has got dangerously out of control

"Since the 1980s, German investors have sued dozens of countries, including
Ghana, Ukraine and the Philippines, at the World Bank’s Centre in
Washington DC. But with the Vattenfall case, Germany found itself in the
dock for the first time. The irony was not lost on those who considered
Germany <http://www.theguardian.com/world/germany> to be the grandfather of
investor-state arbitration: it was a group of German businessmen, in the
late 1950s, who first conceived of a way to protect their overseas
investments as a wave of developing countries gained independence from
European colonial powers. Led by Deutsche Bank chairman Hermann Abs, they
called their proposal an “international magna carta” for private investors.

In the 1960s, the idea was taken up by the World Bank, which said that such
a system could help the world’s poorer countries attract foreign capital.
“I am convinced,” the World Bank president George Woods said at the time,
“that those … who adopt as their national policy a welcome [environment]
for international investment – and that means, to mince no words about it,
giving foreign investors a fair opportunity to make attractive profits
– will achieve their development objectives more rapidly than those who do

Tahir Amin
Co-Founder and Director of Intellectual Property
Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge (I-MAK)
*Website:* www.i-mak.org
*Email:* tahir at i-mak.org
*Skype: *tahirmamin
*Tel:* +1 917 455 6601/+44 771 853 9472

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