Podcast: The secret world of investor courts
Source: Global Justice Now

Global Justice Now | April 2024

Podcast: The secret world of investor courts

The Secret World of Investor Courts is a podcast made by the Global Justice Now Youth Network, exploring corporate power, colonialism and climate justice.

Imagine a world where multinational corporations have bespoke courts rigged in their favour, and can sue governments over any policy they don’t like.

In this series, our youth activists uncover the shadowy realm of trade deals and Investor-State dispute settlement – or “corporate courts” – by interviewing international experts and campaigners, lifting the veil on its colonial history, structural injustice, and ways out for the future.

Global Justice Now is a campaigning organisation working as part of a global movement to challenge corporate power and global inequality. Our youth activist network campaigns across the country for a world where people are put before profit, challenging climate injustice, neo-colonialism and racism.

Episode 1: The colonial origins of Investors suing States

In this first episode, youth network activists Natalia and Misha explore the colonial origins and history of the investor-state dispute settlement regime – how we came to a world where foreign corporations can sue governments for billions in closed-door tribunals.

You’ll hear contributions from:

Nicolás Perrone, Professor of Economic Law at the University of Valparaíso in Chile, and author Investment Treaties & the Legal Imagination: How Foreign Investors Play By Their Own Rules.

Cleodie Rickard, trade justice campaigner at Global Justice Now.

Episode 2: The structural injustice of corporate courts

In this second episode, youth network activists Alfie, TJ, Lisa and Neve explore how investor-state dispute settlement, or “corporate courts”, are structured and the injustices built in.

You’ll hear contributions from:

Luciana Ghiotto, a researcher at the Transnational Institute specialising in trade and investment in Latin America, based in Argentina.

Jean Blaylock, an economic justice campaigner currently coordinating the European Trade Justice Coalition.

Episode 3: Corporate courts blocking climate justice

In this third episode, youth network activists Ranecia, Ella and Ludo explore the role that investor claims against states have in blocking, deterring or punishing climate action and communities’ struggles for environmental justice.

You’ll hear contributions from:

Rachmi Hertanti, a lawyer with a background in International Trade Law from the University of Indonesia and researcher with the Transnational Institute, long engaged in the Indonesian economic justice movement.

Episode 4: Ways out and wins against the ISDS regime

In this final episode, youth network activists Georgie, Jamie, Luise and Barasha explore how we can extract ourselves from the system of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), hearing the experience of governments who have scrapped ISDS treaties, and wins in Global Justice Now’s campaigns against these corporate courts.

You’ll hear contributions from:

Rob Davies, former Minister of Trade in South Africa, Honorary Professor at the Nelson Mandela School of Public Governance at the University of Cape Town, and member of the Advisory Council on Trade and Industrial Development of the African continental free trade area.

Nick Dearden, Director of Global Justice Now, author of Pharmanomics: How Big Pharma Destroys Global Health, and longstanding campaigner against corporate globalisation.


This podcast was made by GJN youth network members Natalia, Misha, Alfie, TJ, Lisa, Neve, Ranecia, Ella, Ludo, Georgie, Jamie, Luise and Barasha, with coordination by Cleodie Rickard and Leelou Gordon-Fox.

Our editor and producer was Nada Smiljanic, and our executive producer and facilitator was Jesse Lawson. Original music was composed by Femi Oriogun-Williams. Artwork design by Fen Williams.