News has slowly trickled out about the dangers of the Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP) to American sovereignty and democracy. What has received less attention is TPP’s Atlantic cousin, the Trans-atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The TTIP is set to annihilate what little democratic accountability remains in the European Union and the United States on corporate power.
The purpose of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is to remove the regulatory differences between the US and European nations. I mentioned it a couple of weeks ago. But I left out the most important issue: the remarkable ability it would grant big business to sue the living daylights out of governments which try to defend their citizens. It would allow a secretive panel of corporate lawyers to overrule the will of parliament and destroy our legal protections. Yet the defenders of our sovereignty say nothing.
The mechanism through which this is achieved is known as investor-state dispute settlement. It’s already being used in many parts of the world to kill regulations protecting people and the living planet.
The TPP and the TTIP would be a 1% kill shot on democracy in the developed world. All major political and economic decisions in Europe and Southeast Asia – excluding China – will be settled not in Congress or parliaments but in corporate board rooms. And by the time anyone even objects to one of the rules the corporatocracy implements and demands public hearings, the corporate players will have already gotten ahead of the game in their own/the real halls of power. They have rigged the system completely in their favor.
But in the event that a sovereign democratic government actually does stand up to corporate power, they can expect to be sued in corporate controlled courts under the provisions of the trades deals.
Here’s what one of the judges on these tribunals says about his work. “When I wake up at night and think about arbitration, it never ceases to amaze me that sovereign states have agreed to investment arbitration at all … Three private individuals are entrusted with the power to review, without any restriction or appeal procedure, all actions of the government, all decisions of the courts, and all laws and regulations emanating from parliament.”
There are no corresponding rights for citizens. We can’t use these tribunals to demand better protections from corporate greed. As the Democracy Centre says, this is “a privatised justice system for global corporations”.
Has any public official anywhere justified this top-down revolution? This open attack on our republic? Of course not. Instead conservatives wine incessantly about power going to Washington – when the reality is Washington will be pushed aside in favor of Davos.
The global 1% are launching a quiet coup on the world.
Image from the Big Combo under public domain.