September 11, 2012
INTERFAITH WORKING GROUP
ON TRADE AND INVESTMENT
AWASHINGTON-BASED WORKING GROUP WITH REPRESENTATIVES FROM A RANGE OF FAITH-BASED ORGANIZATIONS COMMITTED TO
ASSERTING A STRONGER PRESENCE OF COMMUNITIES OF FAITH IN PUBLIC POLICY DISCUSSIONS ON INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND INVESTMENT.
Contact: Catherine Gordon(Chair, IWG on Trade and Investment)
(202) 543-1126 firstname.lastname@example.org
As religious institutions and faith-based organizations with extensive global relationships, we have deep concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement currently being negotiated. Specifically, we are very troubled by the investor-state provisions that will harm public health, access to essential services, and the environment.
The leaked TPP investment chapter reveals a radical redefinition of foreign investor rights that would allow multinational corporations to sue governments for millions of dollars in compensation for environmental or public health safeguards by claiming that such protections constitute an infringement of their newfound “rights.” Foreign investors could target and undermine policies ranging from bans on toxins to natural resource protections, just as they have done under the similar investment provisions of NAFTA and CAFTA. Nearly $365 million has already been awarded to foreign corporations under NAFTA and CAFTA, to be paid by taxpayers, while over $13 billion remains pending in such investor-state cases. Recent years have brought a proliferation of these extra-judicial suits—the investor-state caseload of the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes has leapt 460% over the last 13 years.
We see the effects that these investor-state provisions have on our partners around the world. The indigenous people in the Ecuadorian Amazon suffering from the massive toxic water dumping of an international corporation, the children of La Oroya, Peru enduring extreme lead poisoning from a US investor-owned metallic smelter, and other victims of public health catastrophes have tried to seek justice by suing the corporations responsible. Remarkably, those corporations have turned around and used the investor-state provisions enshrined in trade rules to evade justice and even to seek “compensation.”
We believe the principle of human dignity, so fundamental to our faith traditions, demands that international trade and investment respect the rights and needs of people above market principles. Moreover, it is our common conviction that if we are to respect the integrity of God’s creation, then the natural world, with all its richness and diversity, must not be sacrificed to shortsighted profit motivations. Unfortunately, the investor-state provisions under negotiation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership undermine the very principles of human dignity and respect for the integrity of God’s creation which we support.
In order for trade and investment practices to enhance the well being of people, private enterprise should advance distributive justice, sustainable human development, environmental protection, and poverty alleviation. Trade and investment should assist societies to meet social needs, such as secure livelihoods, health and education. To this end, all governments engaged in the TPP negotiation process should reject the agreement’s dangerous investor-state provisions.
The following members of the Interfaith Working Group on Trade and Investment have endorsed this statement:
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM)
Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Medical Mission Sisters, Alliance for Justice
Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate – Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Office
NETWORK: A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Office of Public Witness
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
Witness for Peace