Community groups urge US to ditch ISDS in NAFTA

September 25, 2017: A coalition of labour, public health and environmental groups have urged the United States to remove the investor-state dispute settlement system (ISDS) from NAFTA, arguing it undermines State sovereignty, human rights and environmental protections.

ISDS allows foreign investors to sue governments in an international tribunal if they can prove that a change in law at a local, state or national level has ‘harmed’ their investment. The US government has already spent tens of millions of dollars defending ISDS cases brought against them.

The groups, including AFL-CIO, Greenpeace USA, International Corporate Accountability Roundtable (ICAR) and Action on Smoking & Health (ASH), say that ISDS provisions undermine the State’s ability to regulate in the public interest, and to abide by their international human rights obligations.

They cite previous ISDS claims including the NAFTA case of Metalclad v. Mexico, in which the Mexican government was made to pay a waste management company $16.7 million after refusing to grant a waste dump permit due to health and environmental reasons.