Corporate Sovereignty Provisions Of TPP Agreement Leaked Via Wikileaks: Would Massively Undermine Government Sovereignty

from the dangerous-games,-played-out-behind-closed-doors dept

For years now, we've been warning about the problematic "ISDS" -- "investor state dispute settlement" mechanisms that are a large part of the big trade agreements that countries have been negotiating. As we've noted, the ISDS name is designed to be boring, in an effort to hide the true impact -- but the reality is that these provisions provide corporate sovereignty, elevating the power of corporations to put them above the power of local governments. If you thought "corporate personhood" was a problem, corporate sovereignty takes things to a whole new level -- letting companies take foreign governments to special private "tribunals" if they think that regulations passed in those countries are somehow unfair. Existing corporate sovereignty provisions have led to things like Big Tobacco threatening to sue small countries for considering anti-smoking legislation and pharma giant Eli Lilly demanding $500 million from Canada, because Canada dared to reject some of its patents noting (correctly) that the drugs didn't appear to be any improvement over existing drugs.

The US has been vigorously defending these provisions lately, but with hilariously misleading arguments. The White House recently posted a blog post defending corporate sovereignty, with National Economic Council director Jeff Zients claiming the following:
ISDS has come under criticism because of some legitimate complaints about poorly written agreements. The U.S. shares some of those concerns, and agrees with the need for new, higher standards, stronger safeguards and better transparency provisions. Through TPP and other agreements, that is exactly what we are putting in place.
There's something rather hilarious about saying that there needs to be "greater transparency" and promising that the secret agreement you're negotiating behind closed doors and won't share with the public has those provisions in them somewhere.

Either way, thanks to Wikileaks, we now have the "Investment" Chapter (or at least what it was as of January 20th), and it shows that, as per usual, the US is being entirely misleading in its claims. As Public Citizen highlights:
The leaked text would empower foreign firms to directly “sue” signatory governments in extrajudicial investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals over domestic policies that apply equally to domestic and foreign firms that foreign firms claim violate their new substantive investor rights. There they could demand taxpayer compensation for domestic financial, health, environmental, land use and other policies and government actions they claim undermine TPP foreign investor privileges, such as the “right” to a regulatory framework that conforms to their “expectations.”

The leaked text reveals the TPP would expand the parallel ISDS legal system by elevating tens of thousands of foreign-owned firms to the same status as sovereign governments, empowering them to privately enforce a public treaty by skirting domestic courts and laws to directly challenge TPP governments in foreign tribunals.

Existing ISDS-enforced agreements of the United States, and of other developed TPP countries, have been almost exclusively with developing countries whose firms have few investments in the developed nations. However, the enactment of the leaked chapter would dramatically expand each TPP government’s ISDS liability. The TPP would newly empower about 9,000 foreign-owned firms in the United States to launch ISDS cases against the U.S. government, while empowering more than 18,000 additional U.S.-owned firms to launch ISDS cases against other signatory governments. (These are firms not already covered by an ISDS-enforced pact between the United States and other TPP negotiating governments.)
As for all that "transparency" that the White House promised? Yeah, don't count on it:
As revealed in Section B of the leaked text, these tribunals would not meet standards of transparency, consistency or due process common to TPP countries’ domestic legal systems or provide fair, independent or balanced venues for resolving disputes. For instance, the tribunals would be staffed by private sector lawyers unaccountable to any electorate, system of precedent or substantive appeal. Many of those involved rotate between acting as “judges” and as advocates for the investors launching cases against governments. Such dual roles would be deemed unethical in most legal systems. The leaked text does not include new conflict of interest rules, despite growing concern about the bias inherent in the ISDS system.

Contrary to claims from the Obama administration that the TPP’s investment chapter would somehow limit the uses and abuses of the controversial ISDS regime, much of the leaked text would replicate, often word-for-word, the terms found in past U.S. ISDS-enforced agreements. However, some terms would widen the scope of domestic policies and government actions that could be challenged before extrajudicial tribunals, without offering meaningful new safeguards for those policies.
The basic concept behind early ISDS/corporate sovereignty provisions may have made sense -- in which companies that were afraid to invest in developing nations out of fear the government would come in and seize their factory or whatever -- but expanding it to cover basically all international trade, while the definitions are interpreted to mean companies can challenge any law they don't like in front of a set of private judges (who also work for those same companies in other cases) is ridiculously problematic.

And, once again, we see why the USTR absolutely refuses to be transparent about this by releasing this information publicly. It knows that such a deal would be bad for the American public, so it keeps them secret until nothing can be done. I guess if you're undermining democracy by giving corporations power over lawmakers, you might as well go all the way and hide your proposals from the voting public at the same time.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 4:28am

    Throwing money at lawmakers has become too expensive for corporations, now they just use ISDS to bypass law completely.

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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 4:31am

    One thing I don't understand is, once in such agreements, why won't countries simply raise a big middle finger to the corporate sovereignty provisions when they are abused? I mean sure there may be some useless sanctions but, really, who cares?

    I understand some country leaders go into those treaties due to incentive$ but really, when somebody comes that has nothing to do with those they can simply ignore the treaty or even scrap it. After all if it does more evil than good the supposed 'consequences' of getting out of them unilaterally can't be much worse.

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    • icon
      lfroen (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 5:07am

      Re:

      >> why won't countries simply raise a big middle finger to the corporate sovereignty provisions when they are abused

      They would. You can't sue judge in his own court. That's why nobody takes such posts seriously.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 7:05am

      Re:

      Breaking a trade agreement would mean WTO sanctions. Furthermore, when the deal is with EU, USA or other large economies, it is much more difficult since might makes right economically in the current world order.

      In terms of why they are accepted in the first place is likely a question of consistency: Developing countries will cry harder about western hypocricy when they are slaves of crappy ISDS provisions while the western nations don't bother with it in their bilateral agreements.

      When that is said, the concept of modern ISDS seems problematically broad, lacks legitimacy, lacks transperency, lacks oversight (quis custodiet ipsos custodes?) and lacks standards beyond the limited legalese in the specific agreements. Thus, if ISDS is to be used at all in the future, you need some overarching agreement on how they can act and on what.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 8:43am

      Re:

      Because money.

      It started there... and that's were it ends.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 9:30am

      Re:

      There are literally zero incentives in the current 'Free-trade' agreements. Nothing. Zip. Fuck all.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 4:32am

    This is how the world ends...

    Not with a bang but with a lawsuit.

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  • icon
    lfroen (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 4:59am

    You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

    "Sovereignty" as one wise man defined it, is "monopoly to use of lethal force".
    I'm not exactly TPP fan, but how exactly TPP undermine sovereignty, I have no idea.

    Corporation suing government of $country in same $country? Is _this_ supposed to "undermine sovereignty"? Like in:

    >> The TPP would newly empower about 9,000 foreign-owned firms in the United States to launch ISDS cases against the U.S. government

    Maybe TPP is a bad thing. But _this_ is bureaucratic bullshit.

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    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 6:17am

      Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

      Corporation suing government of $country in same $country? Is _this_ supposed to "undermine sovereignty"? Like in:

      >> The TPP would newly empower about 9,000 foreign-owned firms in the United States to launch ISDS cases against the U.S. government


      No. It's not about "suing government of $country in same $country." It's about avoiding the court system altogether. It's about challenging laws in $country at a non-court tribunal made up of other lawyers who represent other multinational companies in similar cases and letting THEM decide if the laws of a country are "unreasonable."

      In other words, giving a small group of corporate lawyers the ability to basically veto any country's laws.

      That's what corporate sovereignty is about.

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      • icon
        OldMugwump (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 6:42am

        Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

        Is this necessarily a terrible thing?

        One can argue that the progress of civilization is a function of limiting the power of rulers.

        Think of Magna Carta, the separation of powers under the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the UN Declaration of Human Rights. These all limit the power of rulers - that's what we admire about them.

        And they "undermine democracy". That's the point of rights - a majority can't vote them away just because they're a majority.

        Obviously the details matter tremendously. But is TPP and ISDS necessarily a bad thing? Or is it the next step in limiting the power of rulers to treat people (corporations are made of people) unfairly?

        I don't know the answer, but I do wonder if we're jumping to conclusions.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 7:41am

          Re: Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

          "One can argue that the progress of civilization is a function of limiting the power of rulers."

          We don't want a society ruled by corporations whose own interests supersede the public interest or sovereign governments.

          "That's the point of rights - a majority can't vote them away just because they're a majority."

          They prevent a small minority of rulers from taking away the rights of the majority.

          "Or is it the next step in limiting the power of rulers to treat people (corporations are made of people) unfairly?"

          It's a step in giving more power to corporations to be rules, as if they don't have enough power already. In the U.S. it's obvious that copy protection laws were practically written by corporations. We don't need business interests having more power over writing laws.

          "I do wonder if we're jumping to conclusions."

          Keeping these negotiations secret from the public while allowing corporate interests to negotiate them until the last minute strongly suggests that this isn't about the public interest but about giving corporations more power to rule over us. I do not want corporations ruling over us.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 7:48am

          Re: Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

          "corporations are made of people"

          and rulers are made of people. The point is that corporate leaders and rulers are made of a very small minority of people yet it's only a very small minority of people given access and being allowed to negotiate these laws. Why? Because these laws are obviously in the interests of a very small minority.

          and those representing the 'corporation' here aren't necessarily representing all the members and employees of the corporation. For instance Wal-Mart, or any corporation, would love the pay its employees less, or at least the leaders would, yet that position isn't representative of everyone working for Wal-Mart. It's only representative of a very small minority. The overwhelming majority of employees would love to be paid more. Just because a very small minority of corporate members holds a position doesn't mean they represent all or even most corporate employees/members. Just the leaders.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 8:01am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

            and my example above is an example of how corporate sovereignty could be harmful. If a country passes minimum wage laws that a 'corporation' (or the leaders, not the ordinary members/employees) don't like the corporation could try to impose sanctions. With the 'corporations are made of people' argument one would try to argue that it's the 'people' within the corporation that want lower pay. But it's not the majority of people just a very small minority of top paid corporate representatives that are in favor of lowering the minimum wage. They don't represent the people, just the interests of a very small minority.

            A corporation that holds a position is nothing more than a small minority of people within the corporation that holds it. It hardly means the majority of corporate members holds it. So, even with the corporations are made of people argument corporate representation is hardly representative of the people.

            Or if the government wants to pass various labor laws (ie: overtime pay, safety laws, etc...) the majority of the people would likely be in favor of those laws. It's only a very small minority within the corporation, the top executives and owners, that may wish not to have these laws.

            Often times the interests of the overwhelming majority of corporate members conflicts with the interests of the top executives and owners. What these laws seek to do is to give more power to the overwhelming minority of top corporate leaders, not the majority or to the 'people' of the corporation. They don't represent the majority of 'people' even within their own organizations (yet alone within the broader scope of society), they only represent themselves.

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        • icon
          Roger Strong (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 7:50am

          Re: Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

          Based on just a few past examples of ISDS lawsuits, your government (often your LOCAL government, not the federal one) can lose these rights:

          - Raising minimum wage

          - Worker protection laws

          - Conservation (limiting the number of one species that can be hunted each year.)

          - Environmental protection, including banning fracking

          - Banning gasoline additives because of health concerns.

          - Pharmaceutical drug laws, like requiring companies to prove that a new drug does what they say it does.

          - Requiring plain packaging for cigarettes.

          Limiting a government's legal authority is one thing. This is about shifting legal authority to unaccountable and non-democratic corporations at the expense of our elected government.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 8:05am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

            and lets be clear, it's not shifting the legal authority to the 'corporations' as a whole it's shifting legal authority to a very small minority of corporate leaders that hardly even represents the majority of its own members and employees.

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        • icon
          jupiterkansas (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 7:55am

          Re: Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

          Anyone limiting the power of rulers has the power to become rulers themselves. I'm not really interested in being ruled by corporations, and one of the primary roles of government has always been to ensure that businesses remain fair.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 8:13am

          Re: Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

          "One can argue that the progress of civilization is a function of limiting the power of rulers."

          Exactly. Which is why corporate sovereignty is a bad thing. Corporations have become our rulers, and these provisions only give them more power.

          What we need to strive for is government without rulers at all. That's the whole idea of the "American experiment". That experiment is failing. I want it to succeed.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 8:43am

          Re: Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

          Yes it is necessarily a bad thing. It's not limiting the power of rulers to treat people unfairly, it's limiting the power of rulers(governments) to ensure that people are treated fairly by protecting them from depredations of other would be rulers(corporations).

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        • icon
          OldMugwump (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 8:44am

          Re: Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

          Wow; I seem to have set off a brushfire.

          We don't want a society ruled by corporations whose own interests supersede the public interest or sovereign governments.

          Agreed. Neither do we want a society rule by individual people whose interests supersede...

          Lots of people think certain kinds of speech should be prohibited because its "bad for society". Is that a valid argument against the right of free speech I don't think so.

          There's a huge difference between ruling and having protected rights. I don't rule anybody, but I have rights protected by law. I think that's a good thing.

          "That's the point of rights - a majority can't vote them away just because they're a majority."

          They prevent a small minority of rulers from taking away the rights of the majority.

          In democracies, the rights of majorities don't need protection (by definition).

          On the contrary, rights protect minorities, and individuals, from being bullied by majorities.

          I do agree the secrecy is a bad sign. On the other hand, as the comments here illustrate, it can be hard to introduce new protections for minorities in democracies. Nobody likes having power taken away, and that includes voters.

          For example, this is much of the logic behind the EU - member states could free trade, allow labor movement, etc. without joining the EU. But it's politically impossible to do so because of protectionist instincts among voters. By joining the EU, member governments get to say "we have no choice, the EU made us do it."

          Most corporations are not Walmart. My wife and I own a corporation - it employs 11 people including ourselves. The vast majority of corporations are like that. And anybody with $500 can form their own.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 9:50am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

            "In democracies, the rights of majorities don't need protection (by definition)."

            In any society the rights of the majority need protecting. Otherwise you end up with a minority taking away the rights of a majority which erodes democracy.

            "On the contrary, rights protect minorities, and individuals, from being bullied by majorities."

            Rights also protect the majority from being bullied by a ruling minority that wants to prohibit them (ie: the right to free speech protects the majority, it applies to everyone).

            "it can be hard to introduce new protections for minorities in democracies."

            These laws aren't about protecting minorities from, say, discrimination. They're about giving a small minority special privileges over the majority in terms of what laws they want.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 10:16am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

            "Most corporations are not Walmart."

            and this agreement doesn't represent 'most corporations'. It represents, and is being disproportionately negotiated by, a very small minority of people.

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          • icon
            John Fenderson (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 10:55am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

            "Most corporations are not Walmart. My wife and I own a corporation - it employs 11 people including ourselves. The vast majority of corporations are like that. And anybody with $500 can form their own."

            That's correct. I have had several such corporations like that myself. However, those kinds of corporations are horses of a different color and are affected by things like TPP in the same way that individual people are.

            This is why I try to be careful to be specific and say "multinational" or "major" corporations.

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        • identicon
          Joe, 30 Mar 2015 @ 12:55am

          Re: Re: Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

          This makes the assumption that the people in the company have any real say in the operation of the company, and while the argument could be made that the could leave the company, the only people with the financial stability to refuse to work with companies they politically disagree with, are the very small subset of people who already have a say in how the company is run. This is the same sort of argument that is trotted out for every time an expansion of corporate personhood is desired. The result of which, has been politicians behaving so far from the will of the public, that first time candidates are giving career candidates a run for their money just by running on a campaign to remove corporate money from politics. This does not remove power from a few, it turns a democracy into an oligarchy of corporate fiefdoms.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 6:31am

      Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

      Perhaps this is the relevant portion of the definition:

      - a country's independent authority and the right to govern itself

      http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sovereignty

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    • icon
      Roger Strong (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 7:30am

      Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

      Corporation suing government of $country in same $country?

      Indirectly. The Canadian mining company Lone Star Pine sued the Canadian government for $250 million after the province of Quebec banned fracking. They were able to do so under NAFTA’s investor protection clause, using their American subsidiary.

      But usually it's a foreign corporation - or corporations with foreign investors - doing the suing.

      Is _this_ supposed to "undermine sovereignty"?

      Yes. Without ISDS, countries, provinces and states would be free to pass laws regarding the environment, minimum wage, worker safety, etc.. Now they face massive penalties for doing so. (And I can give examples for all three where this has happened.) At the very least this has a chilling effect on such laws.

      It's also a state/provincial sovereignty issue:

      Quebec never signed NAFTA; the federal government did. Newfoundland and Labrador never signed NAFTA; the federal government did. The provincial laws they passed that prompted ISDS lawsuits, were laws they always had the right to make. But since they never signed NAFTA, it was the federal government that was sued and had to compensate investors.

      With TPP negotiations, while the details are scarce, the federal government has been ensuring that the provinces share liability. You can count on this happening behind the scenes in the US also.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 7:31am

      Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

      It means in civil lawsuits, companies are elevated to the level of a national government like the US, UK, Russia, etc.

      When Mike uses the word "Sovereignty" in this context, it means giving companies the ability that other nations exclusively possess to drag other nations to court if they they so desire.

      Meaning if say the US wants to establish plain packaging laws well Phillp Morris of Asia feels their profits are being undermined so they can drag the US to court and sue them for undermining expected future profits.

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    • icon
      xz11111000000 (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 4:19pm

      Re: You have no idea what this "Sovereignty" thing is, right?

      One clueless blogger ("I have no idea") quoting an anecdotal "wise man" doesn't define anything but *comment fail*.

      In terms of modern Westphalian political states, it means the right and power of a state to govern itself without any interference from outside sources or bodies (such as corporations).

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  • identicon
    Guardian, 26 Mar 2015 @ 5:01am

    treason

    when does this equate to treason?

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    • icon
      Alien Rebel (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 10:58am

      Re: treason

      "when does this equate to treason?"

      Anytime your definition of treason does not come from Vladimir Putin, and your equation does not contain imaginary values.

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  • identicon
    Paul Clark, 26 Mar 2015 @ 5:03am

    I Hope TransCanada Pipeline is the First

    Transcanada Pipeline has a $1 billion claim under NAFTA for the Keystone Pipeline. I hope that they file a claim before TPP goes through. It may be an eye opener for the US government.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 5:57am

      Re: I Hope TransCanada Pipeline is the First

      That can be killed with native American sovereignty because it crosses a large amount of lands granted to American indians in various treaties that were never renegotiated or reratified if people really want to do it. Foreign investors might find treaty obligations INSANELY difficult if they want to push it.

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      • icon
        Roger Strong (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 8:07am

        Re: Re: I Hope TransCanada Pipeline is the First

        It doesn't work that way.

        Quebec banned fracking under the (earthquake-prone) St. Lawrence Valley. But Quebec never signed NAFTA; the federal government did. And so it was the federal government that was sued, and has to compensate investors. Another law by Newfoundland and Labrador led to the federal government being sued and having to compensate investors.

        Those treaties with American Indians won't be any problem at all for foreign investors. Because if they refuse to allow the pipeline, it's the federal government that's violating NAFTA's ISDS provisions and the federal government that gets sued.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 8:17am

          Re: Re: Re: I Hope TransCanada Pipeline is the First

          "it's the federal government that's violating NAFTA's ISDS provisions and the federal government that gets sued."

          Except that tribal lands are sovereign territories of the tribes themselves. It wouldn't matter if the US government is a signatory to NAFTA or whatever. It would matter if the tribe was.

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          • icon
            Roger Strong (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 9:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: I Hope TransCanada Pipeline is the First

            "The facts, although interesting, are irrelevant."
            - Albert Einstein

            Wikipedia: Tribal sovereignty in the United States

            The government recognizes tribal nations as "domestic dependent nations"; they do not have full sovereignty equivalent to that of foreign nations. Their position is much like that of US states - they have some sovereignty, but they're still very much part of the US and subject to US federal law.

            Their position similar to that of Quebec in the fracking case. Any refusal by them to bow to an ISDS ruling is the federal government's problem, not the investors'.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 6:54pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Hope TransCanada Pipeline is the First

              You took your information from wikipedia rather than looking into specific practices of specific tribes. Different tribes use their sovereignty in different ways. If you want to look into the hundreds or thousands of ratified treaties on the subject you might get a more complete view.

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              • icon
                Roger Strong (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 9:57pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Hope TransCanada Pipeline is the First

                Sure, there are differences. But in the end they're ALL U.S. citizens subject to U.S. laws even if they also have tribal citizenship. All part of the US, under US jurisdiction.

                For the purpose of international law and international treaties, the reserves are US territory and the federal government represents them and negotiates on their behalf, just like for other citizens.

                Like Quebec they're not bound by NAFTA's ISDS provisions. But like Quebec that's the federal government's problem, not the investors'.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2015 @ 1:53am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Hope TransCanada Pipeline is the First

                  Many of the tribes also have independent treaties with canada, france, spain, the uk and other sovereignties. The laws around citizenship in the US leave it up to the individual whether they wish to retain US citizenship. By law and treaty, they actually have a large degree of sovereignty and autonomy if they exercise it properly.

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                  • icon
                    Roger Strong (profile), 27 Mar 2015 @ 2:33pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Hope TransCanada Pipeline is the First

                    I'm pretty sure that you're referring to treaties from colonial times, since taken over by the US. Plus treaties with Canada for tribes that straddle the border.

                    Of course, US states have treaties with Canada and/or Canadian provinces regarding water conservation, trade, etc. They're technically not allowed to negotiate international treaties, so they use terms like "memorandum of understanding." Nothing stops tribes from doing this too.

                    And the first cross-border treaty in 150 years between tribes in the US and tribes in Canada was signed last year. (Aimed at restoring the bison.)

                    But independent treaties in the last century with other countries? Got an example?

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                    • identicon
                      Anonymous Coward, 27 Mar 2015 @ 5:20pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: I Hope TransCanada Pipeline is the First

                      Did the US constitution expire in the last century? "The supreme law of the land" is still defined the same way. The espionage act was passed in 1917. It's probably not going to expire in 2 years.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 6:49am

      Re: I Hope TransCanada Pipeline is the First

      Transcanada Pipeline has a $1 billion claim under NAFTA for the Keystone Pipeline. I hope that they file a claim before TPP goes through. It may be an eye opener for the US government.


      I would not open the US Governments eyes - they're already willfully shut. Trillions in debt, $1B for them is just another minute of printing money.

      It's the US taxpayers that need their eyes open.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 5:19am

    A corporation that can set up independent tribunals and has full sovereignty? Sounds like the most fascist thing I've heard of... but if some money making entity wants to war and no other legal construct fits it.... why not? Seriously though, this is the worst idea I've ever heard of in a treaty.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 6:30am

      Re:

      How long until Hyperion and Dahl start warring over profits?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 6:45am

        Re: Re:

        Often in war with extensive sovereignties granted real people die in a violent manner. It's not the same as competing for market share.

        It's more like ukraine.

        There are serious issues with giving ad hoc irresponsible parties (20 bucks to file to incorporate) large sovereignties through treaties and the "law of nations".

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 8:19am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Often in war with extensive sovereignties granted real people die in a violent manner. It's not the same as competing for market share."

          Tell that to Central America, where US corporations competing for market share have engaged in a lot of violent slaughter of real people.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 9:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Good news on that front at least... Some of those war criminals are being brought to justice with a war crimes tribunals here in the US.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 6:16am

    from the dangerous-games,-played-out-behind-closed-doors dept

    So what's the safe word?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 6:40am

    Yup - insane profits at the expense of the less fortunate are not enough for these people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 7:13am

    Keep it up Wikileaks!

    Get wikileaks expose more by donation:

    http://org.salsalabs.com/o/1439/content_item/freetpp

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 8:27am

    You can't spell Liberals without L.I.A.R.S

    As for all that "transparency" that the White House promised? Yeah, don't count on it

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Lurker Keith, 26 Mar 2015 @ 9:03am

    One hand doesn't realize the danger the other is in

    With that ruling in the UK, where people can find out if the NSA has info on them (most beneficial to foreigners, IIRC), couldn't a corporation (or the board members) get that info & use it to win an ISDS claim against the US for allowing the NSA to spy on them? It's clearly costing some companies money, if not customers.

    That scenario alone makes this whole mess w/ ISDS in new treaties beyond ridiculous! It's gone to Plaid!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 9:52am

    There is another way to look at this...

    This is about protecting lower and middle class companies from upper class ones that do not have the resources that the upper class companies have that buys them direct representation in government. The big companies are able to have the laws made the way they want them in the first place. Since corporations are people now, the "little guy" needs some protection too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 10:02am

    In my view those pushing for this trade deal to go through are only thinking of themselves. No doubt they have cushy jobs lined up with the corporations that plan to benefit the most out of this.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      OldMugwump (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 10:54am

      Re: only thinking of themselves

      It's a mistake to think that the people on the opposite side of any given issue are driven mainly by self-interest.

      Of course, there's always an element of that (mostly self-delusion), but most people genuinely believe that whatever they're advocating is best for everyone.

      (That doesn't make them correct, of course, but they believe it honestly.)

      I'll bet you think that your political ideas are best for the common good. I do about mine, too.

      Misunderstanding this leads to all kinds of problems, including wars. We need to talk to each other, understand the facts and values at stake, and find livable compromises.

      Pointing fingers and shouting "evil!" is not productive.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 10:59am

        Re: Re: only thinking of themselves

        Yes, I agree. While there are plenty of instances where people do things that they know are not in the best interest of anybody except themselves, and it's valid to express an emotional reaction to that, doing so is not actually making an argument. It's a fancy form of an ad-hom.

        And in terms of arguing against the actions of policies of others, it's unnecessary. It's sufficient to point out what is wrong with what they're saying or doing and leaving the motivations for those actions out of it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          OldMugwump (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 11:34am

          Re: Re: Re: only thinking of themselves

          Also agreed.

          What's worse is that constantly saying that others are driven by self-interest (as a way of attack, whether it's true or not) gives others the idea that such behavior is normal.

          The more that people think everyone else is ruthlessly selfish, the more they think they need to be the same (if only in self-defense).

          That corrupts morals and wears at the ties that bind society together.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 2:54pm

      Re:

      Ok. But has congress figured out that if they corps can now get their laws thrugh the legal system, they won't need to bribe.. er, lobby, congress any more?

      I guess it's one way to get the money out of politics :)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 10:15am

    'the USTR absolutely refuses to be transparent about this'

    just as the European Commission. even though Karel de Gucht has been replaced, his desire to get ACTA into being is still echoed with TTIP. the world doesn't realise what is going on, that yet another attempt is being made to turn it into a giant corporation, run exclusively by ''the 1%'' to make them the overlords of the planet, with no come backs on them and all profits going into their coffers. this is the Conservative and like-minded parties greatest wish and it has never been closer to coming true than at this moment. there are so many Conservative-like governments in power at the moment, all striving for that undefeatable control whilst more or less enslaving everyone else!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 12:21pm

    'Bias'? 'Conflict of interest'? What are those?

    For instance, the tribunals would be staffed by private sector lawyers unaccountable to any electorate, system of precedent or substantive appeal. Many of those involved rotate between acting as “judges” and as advocates for the investors launching cases against governments. Such dual roles would be deemed unethical in most legal systems. The leaked text does not include new conflict of interest rules, despite growing concern about the bias inherent in the ISDS system.

    Oh yeah, you'd have someone arguing the case of a corporation in one case making the ruling on another case, I can't possibly see how that could lead to insanely one-sided rulings at all, as those making the rulings know that if you don't make the 'correct' ruling they're likely not to be hired by the companies to represent them in the future.

    The entire thing is rotten, but this part in particular takes corruption to whole new levels. It's no wonder they've been doing everything in their power to hide the details of this corporate wish-list, they know that it's bad enough there isn't enough spin in the world to make it look good, as long as people can actually read what's actually in the documents, rather than just be told by a biased party.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 26 Mar 2015 @ 3:03pm

      Re: 'Bias'? 'Conflict of interest'? What are those?

      "Oh yeah, you'd have someone arguing the case of a corporation in one case making the ruling on another case, I can't possibly see how that could lead to insanely one-sided rulings at all, as those making the rulings know that if you don't make the 'correct' ruling they're likely not to be hired by the companies to represent them in the future."

      I wonder how many ISDS rulings so far have gone against the corporations? Or are the payouts secret as well?

      Budget press releases in 5 years time: "Ahh that $10 billion dollar item on the budget this year.... a yeah we are legally not allowed to tell you what that is. "

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 26 Mar 2015 @ 2:06pm

    I would like

    i Would like a BS button in the gov. in both houses..

    If something is WRONG/OFF/not correct/interpreted properly..
    Someone can hit a button(Gong show) and Beep the person.

    We could have Added lights above the podium, for those that catch the BS..(like whose got talent)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Zomby Poet, 26 Mar 2015 @ 5:04pm

    TPP

    So foreign corporations will have more power over us than big city mayors? What could possibly go wrong?

    Somebody who does not care whether you live or vs somebody who needs you alive to vote for them....

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 27 Mar 2015 @ 12:10pm

    The Sacred Institutions of Capital Addicition

    " ...giving corporations power over lawmakers... "

    I cannot think of a better description of Fascism.

    All of these "treaties" are simply the means by which the billionaire fascists of the world plan to introduce global corporate control, legally.

    They have succeeded in laying the ground work using the early versions of these treaties, like NAFTA, and all that is left now is to ratify the final legal basis for corporate sovereignty and legalize corporate exploitation and profiteering.

    All that is left now is to place the final nail in the coffin and bury freedom and human rights permanently.

    Fascists always work from behind the scenes, behind closed doors, in secrecy, because what they want is never good for anyone but the fascists and their corporations.

    It is after all, the entire purpose and nature of corporate existence, to maximize profits and minimize expenditures by any means possible, continuously, forever.

    While eternally escalating profit and zero expenditure is patently impossible in a closed system, corporate mentality must seek that utopia relentlessly, regardless, by any and every means that it can find, or manufacture.

    ---

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Yes, I know I'm commenting anonymously, 29 Mar 2015 @ 2:19am

    The world of Gibson's Sprawl trilogy is edging ever closer. The failure of our politicians to see the demise of the power of their own institutions is what really bothers me. They really seem unable to understand the concept `four years from now'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    George Bob, 10 Nov 2016 @ 8:53am

    Chickens

    I think Chickens is good

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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