Critics Say TPP Provision Could Undercut FOI Laws

3 December 2015

The transparency provision of the Trans-Pacific Partnership still being negotiating by the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations is flawed according a critique of the draft agreement.

The TPP’s investment chapter addresses investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanisms and sets out a transparency standard for arbitration proceedings to resolve such disputes.

One provision would require ISDS panels to conduct open hearings and to make public all notices of arbitration, pleadings, submissions, and awards.

But another provision is a “a step backward as compared to other recent US trade agreements,” according to a November critique done by Lisa Johnson and Lisa Sachs of the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment, who recommend dropping the ISDS section entirely.

The TPP, they wrote, “adds language not contained in other US trade agreements which states that each government ‘should endeavor to apply [its laws on freedom of information] in a manner sensitive to protecting from disclosure information that has been designated as protected information’ in ISDS proceedings.”

This provision, they continued, “can potentially be used to prevent information submitted or issued in the ISDS proceedings from being disclosed to the public even if such information could otherwise be released to the public under the US Freedom of Information Act.”


Be Sociable, Share!

Filed under: IFTI Watch


In this column, Washington, D.C.-based journalist Toby J. McIntosh reports on the latest developments in information disclosure in International Financial and Trade Institutions (IFTI).
Contact: or
1-(703) 276-7748