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Jun 11 2007
Supplied or written by Maj Fiil

Dear friends,

I hope you'll join a growing list of civil society organizations 
publicly supporting the government of Bolivia's bold decision to 
withdraw from the World Bank?s undemocratic investment court, ICSID 
(International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes). We 
are circulating the below sign-on letter; please review it and send 
your sign-on to vkaplan@fwwatch.org ASAP and by Friday, June 15 at the 
latest.

As you may know, ICSID is an undemocratic and unaccountable dispute 
resolution agency that deliberates behind closed doors, allowing 
corporations to sue governments for millions of dollars. ICSID 
represents the excessive powers granted to multinational corporations 
through bi-lateral investment treaties and free trade agreements. In 
May 2007 the government of President Evo Morales of Bolivia withdrew 
from the ICSID Convention, in protest of this unjust institution. See 
the recent report by Food & Water Watch and the Institute for Policy 
Studies for more information: 
http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/water/pubs/reports/corporate-investor-rule

The following letter will be sent to Ana Palacio, ICSID's 
Secretary-General; Robert Zoellick, the new president of the World 
Bank; Evo Morales, President of Bolivia; as well as Bolivia?s minister 
of foreign affairs, and minister of planning and development.

Please forward this to your allies and colleagues. Organizational 
sign-ons should be directed to Victoria Kaplan, Food & Water Watch, at 
vkaplan@fwwatch.org

Kindly put 'ICSID sign-on' in the subject-line of the email, and 
include the following:

Name of organization to be listed in sign-on letter
Country where organization is based
Name of contact person
Contact information (Phone number and/or Email)


Thank you!

Maj Fiil
Director, Water for All
Food & Water Watch
Washington DC


May 31, 2007
Ms. Ana Palacio
Secretary-General of ICSID
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, D.C.  20433
USA

Dear Ms. Palacio:

We, the undersigned civil society organizations from around the world, 
are writing in support of the government of Bolivia?s courageous and 
important decision to withdraw from the World Bank?s ICSID Convention 
(International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes).

Although ICSID is a little known part of the World Bank Group, cases 
brought to ICSID tribunals represent the excessive powers granted to 
multinational corporations through bi-lateral investment treaties and 
free trade agreements.  ICSID is an important part of a larger web of 
rules and institutions that promote and protect foreign investment 
with little regard for the costs to democracy, the environment and the 
public welfare.  The government of Bolivia has taken a bold and 
important position by withdrawing from the ICSID Convention and we, as 
civil society organizations from around the world, will work wherever 
possible to pressure our own governments to take similar actions.

We emphatically support the reasons stated by the government of 
Bolivia for withdrawing from the ICSID Convention, including the 
following:

?    ICSID represents the inequities of an international system biased 
against the developing countries.  74% of all ICSID cases have been 
filed against middle-income developing countries, 19% against 
low-income developing countries, and only 1.4% against the G-8 
countries.
?    Most ICSID cases result in compensation to the investor.  36% of 
ICSID cases have resulted in rulings in favor of the investor and 
another 34% are settled out of court with compensation to the 
investor.  However, when governments win cases no compensation is 
granted.
?    ICSID is an undemocratic and unaccountable dispute resolution 
mechanism because it deliberates behind closed doors and its decisions 
cannot be appealed.  Only 2 of the 110 cases concluded to date have 
permitted public attendance at the hearings.
?    ICSID is not an objective, neutral or impartial dispute resolution 
mechanism.  It is part of the World Bank Group, receives financial 
support from the World Bank, and the president of the World Bank 
chairs the Administrative Council of ICSID.
?    There are mammoth conflicts of interest inherent in the World Bank?s 
role within ICSID including the fact that both claimants and 
respondents in ICSID cases may be World Bank clients.  The government 
respondents in ICSID cases are often severely indebted World Bank 
clients and subject to the Bank?s loan conditions.  These loan 
conditions often facilitate the privatization and concession contracts 
that later become the topics of investment disputes.
?    The ICSID Convention, and the investment and free trade treaties 
that implement it, often violates a country?s sovereignty, 
constitution and national laws.  In the case of Bolivia, as in many 
other countries, most of the foreign investors that have brought cases 
against Bolivia have violated the country?s national laws, including 
environmental, labor and tax laws, and are in non-compliance with 
their contractual obligations.
?    The abuses of ICSID arbitration are exemplified by Bechtel?s case 
against Bolivia.  After imposing draconian measures that made water 
more expensive and less accessible to many residents of Cochabamba, 
Bechtel filed a claim against Bolivia for between $25 and $100 million 
dollars although the corporation had invested less than $1 million in 
the country. Only after mass international public pressure did Bechtel 
agree to settle the claim out of court for a symbolic payment of 2 
bolivianos.
For these reasons, we believe there is an urgent need to construct an 
alternative body of investment rules focused on the responsibility of 
international investors to ensure sustainable development and enhance 
environmental, labor, and human rights protections. We remain 
committed to supporting the Bolivian position to withdraw from the 
ICSID Convention and will work with other organizations around the 
world to disseminate information, reports, and studies that document 
the negative impact of these unjust investment arbitration mechanisms 
on democracy, the environment and public welfare.

Sincerely,

Food & Water Watch, USA

The Oakland Institute, USA

SANIPLAN, USA

Bharat Krishak Samaj (Farmers? Forum India), India

Blue Planet Project, Canada

Friends of the Earth Australia

Corporate Accountability International, USA

Friends of the Earth England, Wales, and Northern Ireland

The Democracy Center, Bolivia

Transnational Institute, The Netherlands

GATS Platform, Netherlands

Polaris Institute, Canada

Intercultural Resources, India

Corporate Europe Observatory, Europe

Begegnungszentrum fuer aktive Gewaltlosigkeit (Center for Encounter 
and active Non-Violence), Austria


CC:   President Evo Morales Ayma
Ministry of the Presidency
Palacio de Gobierno
La Paz, Bolivia

Mr. Robert Zoellick
President of the World Bank
1818 H Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20433
USA

Minister Gabriel Loza Telleria
Minister of Planning and Development
Palacio del Gobierno
La Paz, Bolivia

Minister David Choquehuanco Cespedes
Minister of Foreign Affairs
Plaza Murillo
c. Ingavi esq. c. Junin
La Paz, Bolivia



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