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The ISDS mechanism gives foreign corporations the ability to directly sue countries at private international tribunals for compensation over health, environmental, financial and other domestic safeguards that they believe undermine their rights to profit. These investor-state lawsuits are decided by private commercial arbitrators who are paid for each case they hear, with a clear tendency to interpret the law in favor of investors.
ISDS can prevent governments from acting in the public interest both directly when a corporation sues a state, and indirectly by discouraging legislation for fear of triggering a suit. Globally, investors have challenged laws that protect public health such as anti-smoking laws, bans on toxics and mining, requirements for environmental impact assessments, and regulations relating to hazardous waste, tax measures and fiscal policies.
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