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The international workshop “Alternatives to the International Investment Protection System and the Dispute Settlement Mechanisms of States and Transnational Corporations” organized in Guayaquil, Ecuador, ended last Friday.
The meeting was called by the Ecuadorian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, the National Secretariat of Planning and Development (SENPLADES) and the Council of Citizen Participation and Social Control. Other calling organizations include the Latin American Network on Debt, Development and Rights (LATINDADD), German foundation Friedrich Ebert, the Latin American Institute of Social Sciences (ILDIS), Ecuadorian Network Jubilee 2000 and the Hemispheric Social Alliance.
According to the invitation to the event, the meeting “is held in order to promote dialogue and discussion between civil society organizations and governments on bilateral investment treaties, in order to identify common actions resulting from the urgent need to confront the interests of transnational corporations, which have violated the basic international law that should govern international arbitration”.
The participants and speakers of the different workshops included experts from social movements and organizations, governments and many Latin American countries.
The organizers defined four main goals for the workshop. The first one: to do an updated mapping of the countries affected by international claims and lawsuits before international arbitration tribunals, and a list of the main campaigns being held in the continent on this issue.
One of the main campaigns is the one against Bilateral Investment Treaties (BIT) and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), a World Bank agency, and the campaign for an alternative investment model. “The aim is to set up a common strategy to fight against the impunity of transnational corporations”, reads a document published by the calling organizations.
The second main goal is to define mechanisms and areas of collaboration of social movements with governments that have taken action to change the current investment protection mechanism and the dispute settlement system.
The third goal is related with dispute settlement mechanisms and the collaboration in the process to create an International Observatory to Monitor Investment-State Disputes.
Finally, the calling organizations are looking to define mechanisms and areas of collaboration with the Ecuadorian government in order to support the citizen audit of investment treaties that the Ecuadorian government has promoted.
A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn´t start now, and that won´t end here”, said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).
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