This report examines how global corporations have increased their power through rules and institutions designed to provide unprecedented and sweeping protections to private foreign investors. These increasingly controversial protections are promoted by the World Bank and other international financial institutions, codified by bilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements, and enforced through international arbitration tribunals. Civil society groups – including labor, environmental and human rights groups — have been harshly critical of these rules, charging that they elevate the narrow interests of global corporations above social and environmental goals. They have been joined by an increasing number of legislators around the world, including in the United States, who have attacked these measures as fundamentally undemocratic. And now, new political leaders, particularly in South America, are beginning to explore ways of challenging these excessive investor protections and putting forth proposals for more just trade and investment regimes.
Co-published by Food and Water Watch.