ISDS is an arbitration procedure – similar to procedures used every day by businesses, governments, and private citizens across the globe – that allows for an impartial, law-based approach to resolve conflicts and has been important to encouraging development, rule of law, and good governance around the world. ISDS does not undermine U.S. sovereignty, change U.S. law, nor grant any new substantive rights to multinational companies.–Jeffrey Zients, Director of the National Economic Council.
States have enacted many laws with a sinister purpose:
- Blue laws
- Jim Crow laws
- Voter ID laws
- Religious Freedom laws
Blue laws imposed the religious beliefs of some on all, Jim Crow laws made African-Americans second-class citizens, Voter ID laws seek to disenfranchise potential voters, Religious Freedom laws seek to legalize discrimination based on sexual orientation. Doubtless there are many more examples.
The final arbiter of State Law is the Supreme Court. Nine Justices appointed for life judge our laws. The Justices deliberate in secret. There is no appeal from decisions of the Supreme Court.
The Justices decide cases by interpreting the Constitution. The Constitution is often vague on issues before the Court. Cases are often brought which challenge the Court to split hairs. People may reasonably feel that the Court often reaches unfair decisions. Yet the authors of the Constitution agreed on the Court, and over our entire history we have found no better answer.
International Trade involves similar disputes. Nations may contrive in various ways to protect what they see as their national interest. ISDS tribunals resolve trade disputes based on international law. The arbiters are appointed, they deliberate in secret, their decisions are final. Like Justices of the Supreme Court, ISDS tribunals may make decisions which seem unfair. Yet it is difficult to imagine a better system for resolving disputes.
© William Hungerford – April 2015