EcoQuakers Ireland sent the following letter to Irish newspapers in May 2021. It was published in The Irish Times and The Irish Examiner:
Sir, – The Religious Society of Friends in Ireland has great concern regarding the Ceta (EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement) trade agreement. The ISDS clause (investor-state dispute settlement) element of the agreement would allow foreign investors to sue a nation state for amending legislation that would infringe on corporate profits. The tribunals in which the ISDS process is adjudicated are a private procedure, without any system of appeals, in which the potential lost profits are the central subject of focus.
The EU intends to update this process by making it public and calling it the investor court system (ICS). In the ICS, however, the tribunal can still be held in private if the investors insist, thus calling this a “court” is misleading. A court of law would balance the lost profits against the public good, but the ICS will not. It is worth noting that 90 per cent of the largest recent ISDS suits have amounted to more than $1 billion each and have been taken by fossil fuel and mining industries against countries that have endeavoured to make moves towards a more sustainable future.
Quakers hold that we are all equal, and that sustainability and care for God’s creation is of vital importance for our common future. We view that the creation of a separate court system for corporations, where profits are seen to be more important than the wellbeing of a nation’s children, is incompatible with Christ’s teachings, and the ISDS element within international trade agreements is morally indefensible.
By contrast we hold the vision for a better future that allows for the evolution of national legislation to help create a more equitable, sustainable and beautiful world, where both trade and international cooperation are founded on a firm base of mutual respect and care. As such we must drop the ISDS clause from Ceta and other international agreements. – Yours, etc,
BRÍAN Ó SÚILLEABHÁIN,