In October 2011, global coalition of civil society groups Seattle to Brussels Network held an international week of action against bilateral investment treaties. Their final declaration calls the World Bank-housed International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) part of “an architecture of impunity for transnational corporations (TNCs) [which] undermines the sovereignty and constitutions of both developed and developing countries, democratic governance and peoples’ interests.” It calls for “the withdrawal of states from ICSID and other arbitration processes.” After five years of threats, Venezuela, which has almost 20 suits pending at ICSID, formally withdrew from the institution in January, claiming membership threatened “national sovereignty”.
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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).