US water multinational Bechtel Corporation dropped its $50 million legal case in January against the people of Cochabamba for ending its contract to provide water to the citizens of Bolivia’s third-largest city. In April 2000, the company was forced to leave following massive protests against average rate hikes of over fifty per cent. In 2002, the company filed the legal action against Bolivia at the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (see Update 27). NGO The Democracy Center says this sends a message to other corporations that “we will make you defend your actions in the court of world opinion, not behind closed doors where only a handful of lawyers has a voice”.
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In December 2013, the German Development Institute, Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Bretton Woods Project, in collaboration with the G-24, hosted a high-level workshop in Berlin to foster an open exchange on the profound changes in the global economy and the implications for global economic governance and its constituent institutions and members.
Last year BRICS' leaders agreed to launch a BRICS development bank. Whether this is considered positive depends in part what questions are being asked. Sameer Dossani of ActionAid International highlights the flaws in the World Bank and IMF, analyses whether a BRICS Bank could be different from these institutions and proposes what it should do and what it should look like.
The Bretton Woods Project is an ActionAid hosted project (UK registered charity no. 274467).