Over the past 50 years, at least US$ 100 billion* have been claimed via Dutch investment treaties by companies in other countries, states a report by the Dutch organisations Milieudefensie, TNI, SOMO and Both ENDS.

This year, 2018, marks the 50thanniversary of the introduction of the ISDS arbitration system into  investment treaties. The Netherlands was the first country ever to include ISDS in a bilateral investment treaty with Indonesia in 1968. This controversial ISDS system allows foreign investors to sue governments outside of their national courts for policies affecting investors. The system has set an international standard and the Netherlands now has 90 of these treaties with other countries. These many treaties offer attractive conditions for foreign companies, and are the reason many multinationals maintain letterbox companies here. They can thus file a claim through a Dutch investment treaty without actually doing business in the Netherlands.

Role model

The Netherlands will soon be updating its current investment treaties. Therefore, Milieudefensie, TNI, Both ENDS and SOMO believe that now is the time for a thorough review of the current treaties.

Freek Bersch of Milieudefensie: “It is time for truly fair treaties – treaties in which the interests of people and the environment outweigh the interests of multinationals. This time, let the Netherlands initiate a fair and sustainable model that can be imitated around the world, as it was fifty years ago, but without the damaging consequences caused then.”


  • Number of treaties worldwide with an ISDS clause: 3,324
  • Number of treaties between the Netherlands and other countries: 90
  • Number of (known) ISDS cases: 817
  • Number of ISDS cases brought via the Netherlands: 96
  • Total claimed amount: $US 570 billion
  • Total claimed via Dutch treaties: $US 100 billion

Take action

Ask Minister Sigrid Kaag for reform of this trade policy via the Milieudefensie website (only in Dutch) and attend “Unfair Claims” at Pakhuis de Zwijger in Amsterdam on 9 February 2018.

* Due to the private character of ISDS, the value of many of the claims is untraceable. The actual amount is likely to be much higher.