NGO’s urge Colombia to sink investor protection treaties

Colombia Reports | 24 May 2023

NGO’s urge Colombia to sink investor protection treaties

by Adriaan Alsema

Multinational NGO’s are visiting Colombia to urge the country’s leaders to abandon controversial treaties that seek to protect foreign investment.

Over the past decades, Colombia’s previous governments signed multiple investor protection treaties with trade partners in Europe and the Americas.

Since 2016, 20 foreign investors have sued the Colombian State for more than $2.4 billion on claims that regulations and lawsuits effectively constitute a breach of contract, according to the commission.

Half of these companies are oil and mining companies, whose investment protection threatens Bogota’s ability to implement legislation to combat the global climate crisis, Jennifer Moore of the US-based Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) told Colombia Reports.

According to Moore, the mere threat of a lawsuit before an international arbitration commission turned out to impede the implementation of effective legislation to protect locals’ human rights and national sovereignty.

There is no good reason for there to be a parallel, exclusive system for transnational corporations… especially as we see in cases in Colombia as well… This just widens the gap in terms of lack of access to justice for the people who are very much affected by their investments.

IPS representative Jennifer Moore

“Transnational corporations should be subject to national-level judicial systems,” said the IPC representative, who is set to meet with lawmakers in Bogota on Mon day.

In some cases, the parallel systems are part of bilateral free trade deals between Colombia and her trading partners and in other cases the investors’ risk is covered by bilateral investment treaties.

An investment of Glencore put the Swiss mining firm’s financial goals have opposed the indigenous people’s right to drinking water in the notoriously dry La Guajira province.

Similar conflicts have arisen throughout Colombia and in other countries where foreign companies are in the business of extracting natural resources.