A judicial system for the rich

Will corporations sue the state for losses caused by coronavirus?

Just when you start thinking that capitalism and human selfishness can no longer surprise you, you open the newspaper,  and find this.

“The big law firms are preparing to sue the state(s) for measures against the coronavirus pandemic”
“International firms recommend that their clients request compensation for losses caused by the restrictions, according to a report by Corporate Europe Observatory”

News in El diario, on 25th May 2020

It appears that big corporations, encouraged by big law firms, could sue the state in search of compensation for losses incurred by the measures taken to counter the coronavirus. If they are successful, public money will be used to compensate very wealthy business owners for the loss of expected future benefits.

The best part is that, in both this and previous epidemics, the transfer of the virus to humans has been caused by an imbalance in our relationship with nature, of which we are a part. It is no secret that these same large corporations are a big part of the problem. The arrogance of those who believe they own and master everything appears to be limitless.

There are long queues of people, asking for food, thousands of refugees, stuck in camps, people dying, because the public health system is stretched to its limits, and more. But it annoys them, those that have a lot, to see their benefits reduced.

Perhaps we are the ones who should be demanding the big corporations take responsibility they have caused, us, the ‘normal’ citizens.

Not because of coronavirus, but for all the evil their activities have and are causing the planet and its inhabitants. For loss of habitats, the extinction of species’, mistreatment of animals, human exploitation, innumerable social injustices…

The coronavirus is said to be but a prelude for that which is to come as a result of climate change. Big companies know full well that they share a lot of the responsibility for this. Will they now dare to demand compensation from the state, from us, for the measures taken to avoid more deaths due to the virus?

Unfortunately, it will be neither surprising nor uncommon if they do. ISDS, also known as a parallel judicial system for the wealthy, allows foreign investors to obtain public money in compensation, which they could not have claimed via national legal systems. These courts can award damages for the loss of expected future profits caused by measures taken by governments.

If what these attorneys are doing succeeds, I hope that we will know how to stand up against it, and not allow this to happen.

What can we do?

Well, apart from protesting and making noise, I always think that one of the most efficient forms of micro-activism when fighting against unfair power is conscious consumption. 

“Every time you spend your money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want [to live in].”

Anna Lappe

Let’s not vote for the big corporations.

Conscious consumption allows us to support those who are doing it right, and to boycott those who are doing it wrong. Talking is all well and good, but if we want justice, we have to put ideas into practice, and one way to do it is smart boycotting by smart consumption.

Author: Estefanía Lozano

Translation from Spanish: Anna Kommers