Investor-State Dispute Settlement (I.S.D.S.) provisions should be removed from the Trans Pacific Partnership
Investor-State Dispute Settlement (I.S.D.S.)-style provisions may once have made sense. But they’re now outdated and unnecessary. And including them in trade agreements undermines the broader case for free trade, by making it look like exactly what people fear—a system designed to put corporate interests above public ones.
Trade-Agreement Troubles, MULTUM NON MULTA BY JAMES SUROWIECKI, 19 June 15, In 2012, Australia implemented tough anti-tobacco regulations, requiring that all cigarettes be sold in plain, logo-free brown packages dominated by health warnings. Philip Morris Asia filed suit, claiming that this violated its intellectual-property rights and would damage its investments. The company sued Australia in domestic court and lost. But it had another card to play. In 1993, Australia had signed a free-trade agreement with Hong Kong, where Philip Morris Asia is based. That agreement included provisions protecting foreign investors from unfair treatment. So the company sued under that deal, claiming that the new law violated the investor-protection provisions. It asked for the regulations to be discontinued, and for billions in compensation.
The case has yet to be decided, but the concerns it raises help explain President Obama’s embarrassing setback last week, when the House failed to give him fast-track authority over one of two big trade agreements that had been envisaged as a key part of his legacy. Both agreements—the Trans-Pacific Partnership, with eleven Asian and Pacific countries, and an agreement with Europe called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership—include provisions very like the ones at the heart of Australia’s fight with Big Tobacco. Known as Investor-State Dispute Settlement (or I.S.D.S.) provisions, they typically allow foreign investors to sue governments when they feel they have not received “fair or equitable treatment,” and to have their cases heard not by a domestic court but by an international arbitration tribunal made up of three lawyers.
These provisions have been opposed by an unusual coalition of progressives and conservatives, who contend that they will let multinationals override government policy, and, as Senator Elizabeth Warren put it, “undermine U.S. sovereignty.”………. Continue reading
Japan eases fuel rules for India nuclear deal, Japan Times KYODO, JUN 19, 2015 Japan has given in to India’s demand that it be allowed to reprocess spent nuclear fuel from Japanese-made reactors, negotiation sources said, marking a major shift in Japan’s stance against proliferation.
India, a nuclear power that conducted its first weapons test in 1974 using reprocessed plutonium, has not joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Japan has been seeking measures to guarantee India will not divert extracted plutonium — which could be used to build nuclear weapons — for military use, but no agreement has been reached on the issue, the sources said Thursday…..http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/06/19/national/japan-eases-fuel-rules-for-india-nuclear-deal/#.VYSSFfmqpHw
Delegates expressed strong opposition to plans to roll out more nuclear power stations in Korea, Japan and Taiwan, and sought the help of Greens parties worldwide in that effort. All want greater efforts in promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy. The Greens are well placed to break through and win seats in upcoming elections in Korea and Taiwan……..
Just as corporations are global, so too the Greens are a global force
Christine Milne: Australia ‘universally condemned’ at regional Greens meeting,Guardian 15 June 15 Too often, the concerns of Pacific Island nations are jettisoned in favour of bigger nations’ interests. The Asia Pacific Greens congress aims to change that . Green parties around the world have been working for decades to address global warming. Australia’s Pacific Island neighbours are already suffering extreme weather events, storm surges, and adverse impacts on their health and livelihoods, with their ability to grow food constrained by salt water incursion into fresh water lenses. At every UN climate meeting they ask for help, and in spite of all the sympathetic talk, their concerns are jettisoned in favour of national sovereignty arguments from more powerful nations like Australia. This has to change.
Over the weekend, the Asia Pacific Greens Federation Congress was held in New Zealand. As global political influence continues to rise in our region, so too the Greens are organising to be heard in those halls of power. Whereas the European Greens and their individual parties have been known and have been in parliaments for decades, it is not so well known that Green politics globally grew out of Australia and New Zealand with the formation of the United Tasmania Group in 1972, followed by the NZ Values Party a few months later. Petra Kelly visited our region, liked what she saw and returned to Germany to establish the German Greens. Now the Australian and New Zealand Greens are working to facilitate the growth of the Asia Pacific Greens.
The long Times article by Rick Lyman fit with the sorry performance of America’s “paper of record” as it has descended into outright propaganda — hiding the dark side of the post-coup regime in Kiev. But what makes Lyman’s sadly typical story noteworthy today is that the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has just voted unanimously to bar U.S. assistance going to the Azov battalion because of its Nazi ties.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being negotiated between the US, Japan, Australia and nine other Pacific countries.But the discussions are secret and opponents of the deal are deeply worried about what the leaders of those countries are giving away – including members of Barack Obama’s own party.
Our Washington correspondent is Ben Knight.
Ben, what exactly was this vote?
BEN KNIGHT: Well, it’s pretty complicated. And, you know, it’s very easy to get sort of down into the weeds of congressional machinations and, in fact, Barack Obama’s spokesman, Josh Earnest, called this a “procedural SNAFU” – a word he’s become pretty fond of.
But look, essentially what has happened is: the Congress had the first votes on giving the president the authority he wants to be able to negotiate this Trans-Pacific Partnership in secret, by himself.
Now, this is a luxury that other leaders in TPP countries – the 11 other TPP countries – have. Australian Government is negotiating this and it’s not giving out any of the details – and, of course, this is one of the great big concerns for opponents: is that we don’t know what’s being negotiated.
Now, president Barack Obama was saying, “Look, I want to negotiate this deal. I want the luxury, I want the ability to be able to do this in secret.”
And then, when all the countries have come up with a final text, with a final draft of what will be, probably, one of the biggest free trade agreements in history, then he will present it to the American public and to the Congress. And then they will vote on it: yes or no.
The alternative to that is that people in the Congress want to be able to see the details. They want to know what’s going on. They want to vote on each particular part of it as it’s being discussed and as it’s being decided. And as the president says: “I can’t do it that way.”…….http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2015/s4254374.htm
I would like to think that Kevin Scarce’s Royal Commission was fully investigating nuclear industry issues — not just the geewhiz technology that they would be shown in France by AREVA, which is all too cosy with South Australian pro-nuclear politicians and businessmen.
SA’s Nuclear Royal Commission: All too cosy with failed French nuclear giant AREVA? Just how independent is the SA nuclear review and are opponents being side-lined? Independent Australia 12 June 15, Noel Wauchope looks at just who the Royal Commission met on its recent visit to France.
AT ITS South Australian community forums, South Australia’s Nuclear Fuel Cycle Royal Commission head, Kevin Scarce, made a point of the Commission’s independence. He stressed that the Commission would be meeting overseas proponents, and also opponents, of the nuclear industry.
On the Commission’s website, they list the destinations for the Commission’s overseas tour, now about to wind up. I was struck by the amount of time allocated to conferring with the French nuclear energy corporation, AREVA. I had to wonder — in their discussions with AREVA, it would hardly be necessary to talk with nuclear opponents. I wondered how much AREVA would be going to come clean about what really is going on, in France’s nuclear industry.
The AREVA connection with Australia is important. AREVA has an office in Wayville, in Adelaide, and has hosted South Australian parliamentary tours of their nuclear industrial facilities in France. AREVA acquired the Northern Territory Koongarra uranium deposit in 1995, but subsequently, in a David and Goliath battle with Aboriginal traditional owner, Jeffrey Lee, lost this opportunity, as Lee donated his land to Kakadu National Park.
AREVA is in a joint venture with Toro Energy, in uranium exploration in the Northern Territory. The corporation had been exploring for uranium in Queensland’s Karumba and Carpentaria basins since about 2012, but recently pulled out altogether. AREVA will probably be making a submission to the Royal Commission. However, the Commission, in publishing submissions, will not be publishing ones that are deemed “commercially sensitive“.
Without doubt, AREVA has a keen commercial interest in Australia. France’s nuclear industry is somewhat embattled, as its fleet of reactors near the end of their shelf life, and the government is pledged to cut down on nuclear power, and develop renewables. The French nuclear industry (like USA’s) depends for its survival, on selling nuclear technology overseas.
But what of the fortunes of AREVA itself? As the Royal Commission seeks to learn about the commercial viability of the nuclear industry, AREVA is hardly the most reliable authority on that question.
Trans Pacific Partnership would give corporations, including nuclear ones, power over government laws
Under the existing deals with this parallel legal system for foreign corporations, a Swedish company has sued Germany because the German government decided to phase out nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster,
Rep. John Conyers:Why the TPP Is a Terrible Deal for Most Americans, Conyers in the House, 12 June 15 Trade agreements boost economic growth, while destroying lives and livelihoods. By John Conyers, Jr. “…………. Economic growth—our raw output of goods and services—is a questionable measure of our success or well-being as a nation. Growth, in some cases, runs counter to priorities that matter deeply to our people. As a short-term measure of national production, GDP often tends to increase as rates of crime, pollution, and household debt rise. Both Hurricane Sandy and the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster arguably boosted economic growth because of the activity associated with cleanup and rebuilding.
Israel in Action: Spoiling the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty By Binoy Kampmark Global Research, June 11, 2015 More should have been made about it last month, but the security patrons and aficionados heaved a sigh of relief more than despair when it concluded. Effectively, efforts to obtain a consensus document at the end of the UN Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference held between April 27 and May 22 were railroaded. The UK delegation suggested that there was only one key sticking point: that of the establishment of a WMD-free zone in the Middle East.
As a review in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists noted, “It came down to the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada supporting Israel’s position on a conference to pursue a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.” The 2010 final document had demanded that a conference be convened on the subject of the zone prior to the end of 2012, to be hosted in Finland with the facilitator Jaakko Laajava. So much for that.
Such reviews, which come every five years, tend to be ceremonial gestures of box ticking and smug denial. They focus, ostensibly, on assessing the progress made towards halting the proliferation of nuclear weapons; provide states complying with the provisions of the treaty access to non-weaponised nuclear technology; and, rather dreamily, the efforts of nuclear weapons disarmament on the part of the Permanent Five (P5) states.
Those fascinated by the dynamics of the nuclear club see the NPT as a successful document, one that has 191 signatories and has stalled the creation of more nuclear states. Once the atomic genie was unleased in August 1945 with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the spectre of total nuclearisation became all too real. But getting countries on board the regime of non-proliferation has entailed a rather empty promise as outlined by Article VI of the Treaty. Not developing nuclear weapons on the part of 186 states was bought by the assurance that the nuclear club would dismantle their arsenals.
The non-nuclear states have over the years found the exchange unsatisfactory. The P5 continue going about wistfully refusing to engage in serious dismantling. The old logic of refusal prevails, and with just under 16,000 nuclear weapons available at the push of a trigger, this balance of terror is something that established nuclear states would not do without. If one has them, the rest have to.
All that seemed to transpire at this conference was a desperate attempt to keep an ill patient afoot. It reached an absurd point where a skeletal, poor document of 184 paragraphs was backed by a majority of delegates for no other reason than there was no other alternative. Austria’s representative, speaking for over 20 signatories of the Austrian Pledge on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, noted continuing legal deficiencies in the quest for disarmament. But even that creation, with severely diluted language about disarmament, was rejected by the US, Britain and Canada.
Israel’s role as a spoiler was vital. Being itself outside the NPT framework, it has manipulated it with a degree of determined ruthlessness. Its official stance, which neither affirms or denies its nuclear stockpile, suggests how singular approaches will be tolerated………
Delegates familiar with their history of the NPT noted that its indefinite extension was only bought because of the 1995 resolution on a Middle East WMD Free Zone. Egypt’s delegation was particularly vocal on that score, while the Tunisian delegate insisted that the resolution continued to hold force.
For all that, the singular stance of Israel, one that its allies took note of, doomed an already deficient review document to oblivion. The NPT will simply going on being a shadow of itself, degenerating, as the South African delegate observed, “into minority rule – as in apartheid-era South Africa – where the will of the few reigned supreme over the majority.”
Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: email@example.com http://www.globalresearch.ca/israel-in-action-spoiling-the-nuclear-non-proliferation-treaty/5455013
Nuclear industry pushing for renewal of U.S.-China agreement, The Hill, By Devin Henry – 06/08/15The nuclear energy industry is pushing to keep a critical export agreement with China on the books beyond the end of this year.
A nuclear cooperation agreement that allows United States companies to export their products and technologies to China expires in December. President Obama proposed a 30-year extension of that agreement in April, which the American nuclear industry says will allow it to continue working in the country.
Congress has the right to block or modify that agreement, and concerns about nuclear nonproliferation could hinder it at some point. But key lawmakers on both sides of the aisle say they support the idea of a nuclear cooperation pact, and industry officials are hopeful the new version takes hold this year.
“Even where the Russians may have brought in financing, or the Koreans may have underbid folks, there is still the desire to have the American supply chain come in,” said David Blee, the executive director of the U.S. Nuclear Infrastructure Council, a business group. Continue reading
Russia rejects US accusations of nuclear treaty breach Yahoo News By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV 9 June MOSCOW (AP) — Russia on Tuesday pledged adherence to a Cold War-era nuclear treaty and rejected U.S. accusations that it had violated it. Speaking at a briefing, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said the U.S. has failed to provide evidence to prove allegations of Russian breaches of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty.
He added that Moscow is ready for an “honest but specific dialogue” and said Russia “has no intention to break the treaty.” The disagreements over the INF treaty come amid the Ukrainian crisis and may further foment Russia-West tensions.
Asked to comment on U.S. considerations to deploy land-based missiles in Europe as a possible response to the alleged Russian violations, Lavrov warned that “building up militarist rhetoric is absolutely counterproductive and harmful.”He said that Russia had its own grievances regarding the U.S. implementation of the treaty and that mutual concerns could be assuaged through dialogue.
The U.S. has accused Russia of flight-testing a ground-launched cruise missile with a range prohibited by the treaty. Russia denied the claim and, in its turn, alleged that some elements of the U.S. missile defense shield violate the treaty…….
The INF Treaty, signed by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons. Its signing followed some of the darkest periods of the Cold War, when NATO allies hosted U.S. ground-launched cruise missiles and Pershing 2 ballistic missiles to countering Soviet SS-20 missiles….. http://news.yahoo.com/russia-rejects-us-accusations-nuclear-treaty-breach-121350545.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory&soc_trk=tw
Threatening Iran with military attacks while also negotiating with it only casts doubts on the sincerity of the Obama administration to reach a comprehensive nuclear agreement and to seek out Iran’s help to thwart the advances made by the Islamic State.
It Is Untenable to Seek a Nuclear Agreement With Iran While Also Arming its Opponents, Huffington Post 06/09/20 Ever since the negotiations between the administration of President Hassan Rouhani of Iran and P5+1 — the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany — began in earnest in September 2013, and particularly since the announcement of the Lausanne Accord, the Obama administration has been trying to mollify the opponents of the nuclear accord. The most outspoken foes of the agreement are the usual suspects, namely, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Arab nations of the Persian Gulf area. They all claim that the agreement with Iran threatens their national security, but offer no viable alternative to the negotiations and a comprehensive agreement. What they really want is a new war in the Middle East, this time against Iran. As the President rightly stated on April 2 when the Lausanne Accord was announced, insisting that Iran dismantle its nuclear infrastructure and continuing the sanction regime and even tightening it up further will eventually lead to war with Iran.
And how has the Obama administration has been trying to mollify Israel, Saudi Arabia and their allies? By threatening Iran and selling more advanced weapons to them. Last October, the U.S. announced sale of new missiles to Saudi Arabia worth $1.75 billion. This is on top of $60 billion worth of weapons that the U.S. has sold to that nation since 2010.
U.S. allies in the P5+1 have also been busy selling arms to Saudi Arabia. Continue reading
Israeli Military Sees ‘Security Benefits’ To Iran Nuclear Deal http://www.mintpressnews.com/israeli-military-sees-security-benefits-to-iran-nuclear-deal/206312/ The Israeli military says that the deal, and increased inspections, would provide increased clarity on Iran’s civilian nuclear program and the risks of a “breakout” to military use. By Jason Ditz for Antiwar.com | June 6, 2015 Once again underscoring the profound disconnect between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his nation’s security apparatus, the Israeli military has held a “closed door” briefing in which they seemed to praise the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, saying it provided “security benefits” for Israel.
Though the details of the briefing were not supposed to be fully made public, some details got out, including the military saying that the deal, and increased inspections, would provide increased clarity on Iran’s civilian nuclear program and the risks of a “breakout” to military use.
Netanyahu has repeatedly and loudly condemned the talks, claiming any deal with Iran on any terms would be a threat to Israel’s existence. The military, however, said it believed the threat from Iran was waning, and would more so with a nuclear deal.
Netanyahu has struggled to keep military and intelligence officials backing his public narrative, and earlier this year Israeli intelligence briefed the US Congress against imposing sanctions demanded by Netanyahu on the grounds it would sabotage diplomacy. Netanyahu’s pre-election visit to the US Congress was the result of efforts by him and hawkish Congressional leaders to try to undo the “damage” done by the briefing.
WikiLeaks Strikes Again: Leaked TISA Docs Expose Corporate Plan For Reshaping Global Economy,FDL, CTUTTLE JUNE 3, 2015 Leaked Docs reveal that little-known corporate treaty poised to privatize and deregulate public services across globe. By Sarah Lazare
An enormous corporate-friendly treaty that many people haven’t heard of was thrust into the public limelight Wednesday when famed publisher of government and corporate secrets, WikiLeaks, released 17 documents from closed-door negotiations between countries that together comprise two-thirds of the word’s economy.
Analysts warn that preliminary review shows that the pact, known as the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), is aimed at further privatizing and deregulating vital services, from transportation to healthcare, with a potentially devastating impact for people of the countries involved in the deal, and the world more broadly. Continue reading
Israel should join the NPT in return for a Mideast Nuclear Free Zone i24 News, YAKUB HALABI, 2 JUNE 15 “…….The Middle East and world politics, however, have gone through tremendous political, economic and social changes in the past four decades that not only render Israel’s ambiguous nuclear policy obsolete, but turned the whole project of Israel’s nuclear program into a liability.
First, Israel is no longer under an existential threat: as reflected in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, the Arab states are willing to normalize relations with Israel in exchange for full withdrawal from the 1967 occupied territories. And second, instead of being a deterrent against the Arab states and Iran, its alleged nuclear arsenal may be stimulating not only a nuclear arms race in the region, but also political tension and conventional wars as Israel seeks to preserve its monopoly as the region’s only nuclear power. Israel struck twice at Arab states in order to deprive regional states from possessing nuclear power: in 1981 against Iraq and in 2007 against Syria. More recently it has said it would not rule out a strike against Iran for the same objective.
It is true that the powers’ negotiations with Iran could beget a bad agreement or none at all. The outcome for the regional players, however, would be the same: Iran would continue to march slowly but safely towards manufacturing a nuclear bomb. Under these circumstances, Israel would have no choice but to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, in order to maintain its monopoly over nuclear power, prevent a potential regional nuclear war, and deter other states from following in Iran’s footsteps.
Further, Israel wants the United States to apply a double standard: Israel would remain an exception to the rule and privileged over the Arab-Muslim states. In this regard, the question looms large: can the US continue to turn a blind eye to Israel’s nuclear weapons (according to foreign media reports) and impose sanctions on every other Middle Eastern state which dares follow in Israel’s footsteps?
A few weeks ago, the American assistant secretary of state for international security and non-proliferation, Thomas Countryman, visited Israel in order to examine the likelihood of creating a nuclear weapons free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East.
In my opinion, Iran would be more willing to abandon its nuclear aspirations under a regional NWFZ agreement than under the current conditions of preserving its monopoly. In short, Israel should take part in the P5+1 negotiations in which it would declare its willingness to strip itself of nuclear weapons and join the NPT in return for signing a Middle East Nuclear Free Zone.
Yakub Halabi is an Arab-citizen of Israel, assistant professor of international relations and fellow at the Azrieli Institute of Israel Studies, Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. http://www.i24news.tv/en/opinion/73445-150602-israel-s-alleged-nuclear-arsenal-a-liability-not-an-asset
Iran, US talks gain urgency as nuclear accord deadline nears SMH, June 1, 2015 Karen DeYoung, Geneva: Significant differences remain between the United States and Iran over a nuclear deal, but the two sides are clear on what needs to be resolved and the urgency of doing it before a June 30 deadline, a senior Obama administration official said after six hours of weekend talks here between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The discussions, the official said, were “intense at times” as both sought clarification of the two biggest issues between them. Iran wants to know exactly which sanctions against it will be lifted and when.
The US and its global partners in the negotiations want specific mention in a final deal of international verification and monitoring provisions that include all Iranian sites, including military facilities. Other issues that remain unresolved include the extent to which Iran will provide details of its nuclear research history.
“All issues were reviewed” but “differences still remain”, Iranian negotiator Abbas Araghchi told reporters as his delegation depa http://www.smh.com.au/world/iran-us-talks-gain-urgency-as-nuclear-accord-deadline-nears-20150531-ghdd13.htmlrted for Tehran…….
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