ICSID billion dollar cases prompt criticism

12 February 2013

The International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), an arm of the World Bank Group, is facing growing criticism from developing country governments. In October an ICSID tribunal imposed an unprecedented $2.4 billion fine on the Ecuadorian government in a case brought by US-based Occidental Petroleum (Oxy), whilst a $2 billion complaint against the Indonesian government by Australian company Churchill mining is due to be heard in May. In December Martin Khor, of intergovernmental developing country think tank the South Centre, said that the tribunal system has been “widely criticised for its lack of professionalism and transparency, its conflicts of interest and the secrecy of its cases and outcomes. ” Khor called for a review and reform of investment treaties to be “accelerated at both national and international levels”.