Leaked: environmental chapter of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty


For those seeking an alternative voice, the Green Shadow Cabinet covers Wikileaks and the TPP, exposing efforts to put private interests before those of humanity, civilization, and the planet. Many happy mutants will share its values.

I read parts of the document. The part that really stands out to me is the way the arbitration panel of 3 is selected: the parties, which will mainly consist of a foreign corporation and a state, get to choose one arbitrator each. The final arbitrator is picked by the corporation from a list of three provided by the state. However, if none of the three are acceptable to the corporation, they can pick three new potential arbitrators and the state MUST pick one of those three. This means that the corporation can always stack the arbitration panel with people sympathetic to their views.

Not even getting into the question of how these fascists think its appropriate for unelected arbitrators to judge environmental laws enacted by nation states, this selection method shows how the TPP breaks in favor of corporate interests over national ones.

Corporate power has gotten way out of control. Agreements like this just show how complete is the power grab they are going for.


God damn it. Every single day Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake trilogy is seeming more and more prescient.

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Yeah. Superficially that seems okay, but the way it’d actally work out?

Behemoth Corp: We pick Augustus “Tree Killer” Moneybags as our arbitrator.
Govt of Microland: We pick Green “Greenie” McGreenersen as ours. For the third we propose either Judge Steve “Evenhanded” Luke, Phil “Fairminded” McCracken, or Sister Mary “Teresa” Terrence.
Behemoth Corp: Nope. They all suck. Here’s a counter trio for you to select from: Carl “Coal Burner” Crispin III, Toni “Toxic Waste” Frauderston, or David “DRM” Dunlapson. Make your choice. Heh.
Govt of Microland: !? wibble

I don’t see it. The draft speaks only of a ‘complaining’ party and a ‘responding’ party, with the complaining party being whoever submits the request for arbitration. It is true that the advantage lies with the complainer, but the complainer could easily be the state addressing the company, or some local activist group addressing a government etc.

This seems to encourage a shoot-first process, really. Well, it’s only a draft.

Edit: actually, it seems like ‘party’ refers only to national governments. In other words it’s about governments making complaints to each other, and whoever makes the complaint has the advantage.

“Party”, as defined, is another manipulation. Similar to the way the US Trade Representative nominally represents the interests of the USA, while really representing the interests of legacy corporate power, so too the Parties, at least on the side of the party raising the objection under the agreement, represents corporate/investor interests.

If you don’t understand the context of these documents then you can’t really know what powers they provide to the different parties (in that it doesn’t outline what powers the different parties current have under the existing trade agreements and international/national law and how those would change). The point is that no nation is going to sue another nation for their environmental laws. Foreign investors who see an opportunity for profit however, will, and do, sue on a regular basis. Right now a US company is suing Quebec for environmental laws that prohibit fracking. But they have to sue in Canadian courts, which, at least to some extent, gives the home country advantage to the defense. With this agreement investors will no longer have to sue in national courts, but will use these arbitration panels instead. Given that close to 100% of the suits brought before these panels will be by investors/corporations against foreign nations, the reason for the panel selection bias becomes apparent.

And if this leads you to realize that this agreement, if approved, means foreign corporations have more rights that domestic ones, you’d be correct.

If anyone is interested in more details, check out this piece: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/01/wikileaks-trans-pacific-partnership-environment-chapter-toothless-public-relations-exercise.html.

Parties in the document refers to the particular parties actually signing the agreement. You might argue that the various representatives also represent the various companies from those countries, but the companies are not involved directly, so they do not have standing to directly use arbitration. They can only access arbitration by having their government represent them at this arbitration. In other words, this is still about governments in dispute with governments.

Besides, this is only Canada’s proposal. It’s not the agreed final draft.

That article actually refers not to the environment chapter, but the investment chapter, a separate document, which is where Investor-State disputes are discussed. The main complaint about this current document is that it’s fairly toothless in terms of enforcement. The environment chapter, AFAICT, only covers state-state dispute resolution.

The entire document applies to investors/corporate interests as well as governments. Whatever party definitions appear in the environmental section are irrelevant to the document as a whole, and are themselves subject to change as you point out. Read the link I posted for more background information and critical insight into this section if you’d like a fuller perspective.

Yes. To clarify further, its toothless in the way that it sets out what seem to be grand goals (leaving out huge areas of concern like oceans, etc.) without defining terms, thus making the goals unenforceable through shear vagueness (terms to an agreement must be defined or any of the parties can claim they are unenforceable).

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