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UN independent expert Alfred de Zayas called for the abolition of investor-State dispute settlement arbitrations included in most free trade agreements for its adverse impacts for human rights in many parts of the world.
De Zayas, a UN expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order stated that investor-State dispute settlement mechanisms (ISDS) have adversely impacted “State sovereignty, democracy and the rule of law”.
“There is no justification to establish this privatized system”, highlighted the expert on a press conference at the UN headquarters.
ISDSs are arbitration systems included in many trade agreements and represent, for instance, one of the most controversial issues in the negotiations of a free trade agreement sought by the US and the European Union, because of the possibilities of this mechanism of undermining the State´s capacity to legislate against the interests of foreign investors.
De Zayas made reference to an example of this type of problems, the claim filed by US tobacco company Philip Morris against Uruguay for considering the country violated its investment treaty with Switzerland –where the company´s headquarters are located- after adopting anti-tobacco measures.
The expert, who submitted a report to the UN´s General Assembly, criticized that these trade agreements prevent States from fulfilling their human rights treaty obligations.
De Zayas talked about the priority of human rights treaties over other agreements and made reference to other outrageous sentences, such as the one which forced Ecuador to pay 2.3 billion dollars in compensation to US oil company Oxy, after the country declared a contract with the company had expired due to its decision of selling part of its shares to Canadian company Encana, without State authorization.
According to De Zayas, these arbitrations are damaging the people and increasing inequality among countries.
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