Kluwer Arbitration Blog – 05/12/23 – BRAMIA: An Alternative to ISDS

Cesar A. Guimarães Pereira (Justen, Pereira, Oliveira & Talamini) and Leonardo F. Souza-McMurtrie (University of Cambridge) /  / Leave a comment

“Corporations have their own global private court system – called ISDS – which they use to bully governments. But many victims of corporate human rights abuses don’t have any way of winning justice. This is unfair. We need to end these corporate courts now! Rights for people, rules for corporations.”  Letter from the Stop ISDS movement to the President of the European Union Council (2019)

Arbitration lawyers are proud of their profession. Foundational works like ‘dealing in virtue’ and ‘arbitrating for peace’ show just how much they see themselves as a force for good, easing global tensions and fostering peace, even averting war through a system grounded in honour.

But this has changed. Thousands have gathered across Europe to protest against investment treaties like CAFTATTIPCETA, and NAFTA, repelling their arbitration clauses. Protesters feel exploited by arbitration or, as they call it, “corporate courts.” (© Jess Hurd reproduced from Global Justice Now)

In 2023, several EU members left the ECT, the largest investment arbitration treaty, after accusations that companies “weaponise” this “climate-wrecking,” “climate-killing” “obscure energy treaty” to promote “ecocide” through “biased secret courts.” Like Dorian Gray’s fate, the once clean portrait of arbitration now reflects not virtue or peace, but a more contentious legacy.
(Members of the European Parliament protest against ISDS Ⓒ REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photos, reproduced from Chatham House)

However, we propose an alternative. Emerging over the last 20 years and distant from European controversies, unlike ‘multilateral investment courts’ or ‘ombudsman’ proposals, BRAMIA is a time-tested and conservative alternative to ISDS, that shifts perceptions of power back to the people while still protecting investors. To explain how it works, we’ll take two steps back.

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