How Dutch investment treaties harm the public interest

Over the past two decades a complex web of more than 3,200 investment agreements has developed globally, mostly in the form of Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs).

These treaties grant investors far-reaching rights, limiting state control over transnational capital and constraining governments’ policymaking space. A key provision in many of the investment agreements is a controversial mechanism that allows corporations to sue governments in private international arbitration tribunals outside the regular national court system. Investors’ claims through ‘investor-state dispute settlements’ (ISDS) have skyrocketed by more than 400% since the early 1990s. This paper gives a critical civil society perspective on the clear tension between BITs protections and the democratic right and duty of the state to regulate in the broader public interest.

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