06/02/2019 3050 views

6th February 2019 - ICSID, the World Bank tribunal, accepted an ‘amicus curiae’ brief submitted in the arbitration between Romania and the mining company Gabriel Resources over a destructive gold...
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21/10/2015 5404 views

Bucharest, 21 October 2015 – Bucharest Court of Appeal filed yesterday a request from SC Roşia Montană Gold Corporation SA[1], whereby the latter waives the trial of the case[2] brought...
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01/10/2015 5662 views

El Salvador Speaker Tour | Guest: Bernardo Belloso October 1st, 2015, Cluj Napoca, Bucharest – El Salvador is expecting the imminent decision of the World Bank arbitration court which will...
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03/08/2015 4342 views

Whenever possible our lawmakers ensured increased investment. For example we can read in the preamble of our mining law that „Investments in mining are encouraged by fiscal and administrative facilities, being free of any constraints in terms of return on investment and use of profit.“

To make sure that this includes foreign investment, from the times of nineties onwards, Romania concluded Bilateral Investment Teaties (BIT) with foreign trade partners. Usually BITs include an initial running period and can be cancelled by either party in simply notifying the other.

As Romania was considered a potentially risky country, BIT treaties were to add that eXtra security in giving foreign investors the possibility to sue host countries if their investment didn’t come to fruition (!).

If a host government is considered risky then this also includes its juridical system. Hence comes ISDS or Investor State Dispute Settlement. Abstract as it may sound, this is a parallel justice system that has no relationship to national or transnational law courts.

It works via arbitration meaning that both parties to this process choose their arbitrator or judge and agree on a third arbitrator (middle man). They then haggle out the case behind closed doors; almost in a bazaar-style manner.

Commercial arbitration cases however, produce final decisions that cannot be appealed; not at any supreme court or even at the European Court of Justice. The World Bank’s International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (“ICSID”) is the traditional place for ISDS cases to take place.

In the past 20 years ISDS has become big business. Not any one can be an ISDS arbitrator or judge: according to the OECD over half of those accredited are company lawyers. More than 60% of them also represent investors in ISDS disputes as lawyers.

Only foreign investors have the right to sue host governments under ISDS. If they win a case, they can count on compensation in billion dollar amounts. Governments, even if they are able to successfully fend off a case, still remain with high lawyers’ fees and legal costs (on average EUR 6.5 million per case) which ultimately are paid by taxpayers. Mere threats of an ISDS case have come to prevent useful laws from being passed in being used as a bargaining chip by lobbyists. Small or poor states with few specialized legal teams avoid costly ISDS cases and therefore agree in advance.

All of Romania’s main political parties have been staunch supporters of ISDS. When the European parliament recently voted on whether or not to include ISDS in the EU-US TTIP free trade argeement, Romania’s social-democrat MEPs lobbied hard for ISDS amongst their EU party colleagues, many whom were divided on the issue.

To recuperate its failed $1-billion (U.S.) mining investment Gabriel announced in January this year the start of arbitration proceedings in submitting a dispute ‘Notice’ to the President, the Prime Minister and the Romanian Government. Gabriel’s announcement of last week that it filed a request for arbitration before the ICSID against Romania (“Request for Arbitration”) comes in reponse the authorities’ silence over that Notice. Being a company registered in the Netherlands, in Canada and even Jersey, Gabriel can decide whether to base its action on Romania’s BIT with Canada or the Netherlands or several. The case has been filed the ICSID’s webpage but confirmation is still lacking.

This marks the culmination of threats of an ISDS case that have been ongoing since 2013 when Gabriel Resources was pushing Romania’s parliament to approve their mine by passing a law declaring their mine plans of overriding national interest to as to annul stalled permitting procedures and to expropriate the local population refusing to leave.

“If the lower house [of parliament] does reject the project, we will go ahead with formal notification to commence litigation for multiple breaches of international investment treaties for up to $4-billion,” Gabriel’s chief executive officer Jonathan Henry vowed in a interview. “Our case is very strong and we will make it very public that Romania’s effort to attract foreign investment will suffer greatly.”

What we know is that is that Gabriel will likely use the „Fair and Equitable Treatment“ clause (FET).

It allows foreign companies a very wide interpretation about what is fair and equitable. It has also proven useful: 75% of ISDS cases won by US companies were based on FET.

$4 billion dollars, the amount that Gabriel is blackmailing the government with to approve its illegal mine, represents almost 2% of our country’s annual GDP.

In the arbitration case Gabriel will be represented by White & Case LLP, a global law firm priding itself with having secured two of the largest ISDS compensation payments ever – one of which for a Canadian gold mining company against Venezuela.”

Certain multinational law firms have come to encourage just about any company to venture out into new territories, invest by proposing challenging projects in challening environments and call upon their services to sue host government for loss of investment and damages when and if rejected for obvious reasons.

If we can stop ISDS to be included in TTIP, we’ll stop making this mechanism from becoming the usual practice used to impovrish our budget. Currently, ISDS cases in Romania and abroad are exceptions that are raised in bilateral agreements between states that can be terminated by either party notifying the other.

If ISDS is included in TTIP, it will be binding for all EU Member States and the cancellation of this clause will be almost impossible. We will stuck with it for a very long time.

From a practical standpoint, unless you want ISDS become a mechanism widely used in the near future, you can start by signing the petition. Let us not allow the exception to become the rule!

Sign at de-clic.ro

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13/01/2015 3986 views

Parliamentary questions (European Parliament, Commission) 9 October 2014, E-007767-14 Question for written answer to the Commission, Rule 130 Lidia Senra Rodríguez (GUE/NGL). Galician MEP Subject:  CETA agreement and Edgewater in...
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21/08/2014 4360 views

The Rosia Montana Activist Social Forum took place during FânFest, the hay festival of Roșia Montană, the biggest multi-art activist festival in Romania. 2014 marks the 3rd edition of the...
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07/08/2014 2970 views

7 august 2014 – Unul dintre cele mai grave accidente miniere s-a produs în Canada la mina de exploatare a cuprului și aurului Mount Polley prin ruperea barajului iazului de decantare. Peste 10 de milioane de metri cubi de apă și 4.5 milioane de steril toxic s-au scurs în râurile și lacurile regiunii British Columbia pe 4 august. Conform publicației Vancouver Observer, sterilul ar putea, de asemenea, cianură (cianura de sodiu este folosită pentru extragerea aurului), acid sulfuric (folosit pentru a extrage cupru), precum și mercur. Barajul minei Mount Polley este construit din arocamente; același tip de baraj este preconizat și la Roșia Montană sau Certej.

Analiza superficială a condițiilor de mediu sau a stabilității amplasamentelor iazurilor de decantare de către companiile miniere și atitudinea complice a autorităților de mediu crează, în cele mai multe cazuri, premisele producerii unor astfel de catastrofe. Proiectantul iazului de decantare al minei Mount Polley este firma de consultață Knight Piésold, aceeași care a realizat studiile ce au condus la decizia de a nu impermeabiliza decantorul de pe Valea Cornei situat la doar 2 km în amonte de Abrud. Cercetările realizate de Knight Piésold pentru amplasarea iazului de decantare și studiile metereologice în zonă indică faptul că supraînălțarea pereților, precum și straturile sedimentare cretacee sunt foarte impermeabile. Acest lucru exclude nevoia amplasării unei membrane pe fundul iazului.

Dezastrul ecologic din Canada este departe de a fi un caz singular, fiind doar cel mai recent dintr-o listă foarte lungă de accidente miniere cauzate de breșe în pereții sau barajele iazurilor de decantare. Două dintre acestea s-au produs în România, la Certej (1971), unde au murit 89 de oameni și Baia Mare (2000). Sterilul de la mina canadiană, suficient pentru a umple 4.000 de bazine olimpice de înot, amenință în continuare orașele Quesnel și Likely, ducând la interzicerea consumului de apă și declararea stării de urgență în districtul regional Cariboo.

Autoritățile analizează în prezent cauzele cedării barajului, un purtător de cuvânt al Ministerului Mediului canadian declarând că au fost date, doar în luna mai, cinci avertismente operatorului minier pentru depășirea nivelului permis al apelor uzate în iazul de decantare[1]. Mai mult, liderul populației indigene (First Nations),Bev Sellers, a declarat că semnalele lor privind siguranța iazului au fost continuu ignorate.

“Acesta este adevărul gol-goluț despre mineritul modern. Generează catastrofe ce nu pot fi sub nici o formă justificabile sau scuzabile. În faza de proiect, minele sunt prezentate ca fiind infailibile. Promotorii proiectelor de minerit prezintă cu emfază că folosec cele mai noi tehnologii, ce aparent nu dau greş. Este și cazul RMGC care susține că <>. Odată acidentele însă produse, companiile dau faliment și rămâne în sarcina statului să remedieze prejudiciul produs. Același scenariu s-a întâmplat și la Baia Mare în 2000”, a declarat Tudor Brădățan, reprezentant al rețelei Mining Watch România.

“Am urmărit declarațiile liderului populațiilor indigene și preocuparea oamenilor din orașul Likely care încearcă să înțeleagă ce li s-a întamplat. Producerea unor astfel de catastrofe sunt întotdeauna dureroase, iar consecințele cele mai greu de suportat revin comunităților locale. În aceste clipe suntem alături de locuitorii regiunii British Columbia”, a declarat Eugen David, președintele Alburnus Maior.

Imagini video cu dezastrul de la mina Mount Polley:

Informații detaliate despre producerea accidentului

[1] De 5 ori mai multă apă decât era estimat inițial să conțină iazul de decantare

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10/02/2014 3419 views

Transparency International: a coalition against corruption? Berlin, Germany 10/02/2014 –Today at 13:00 German and Romanian volunteers of the "Save Rosia Montana!" campaign will protest in front of the Berlin headquarters of...
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