The Case That Blew the Lid Off the World Bank’s Secret Courts

Truthout, By Jim Shultz, April 28

There’s an international awakening afoot about a radical expansion of corporate power – one that sits at the center of two historic global trade deals nearing completion.

One focuses the United States toward Europe – that’s the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – and the other toward Asia, in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Both would establish broad new rights for foreign corporations to sue governments for vast sums whenever nations change their public policies in ways that could potentially impact corporate profits.

These cases would not be handled by domestic courts, with their relative transparency, but in special, secretive international tribunals.

It’s a stupendously powerful tool and a double win for the corporations: It’s a money machine that loots public treasuries and a potent tool to stifle unwelcome regulations, all wrapped in one. As Senator Elizabeth Warren recently wrote in the Washington Post, “Giving foreign corporations special rights to challenge our laws outside of our legal system would be a bad deal.” But it’s a deal US lawmakers are rapidly preparing to make as they debate extending “fast-track” trade promotion authority to President Barack Obama.

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