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TTIP, ISDS and the Implications for Irish Public Health Policy report by Irish Cancer Society

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Dublin, July 2015- SFP's temporary partner, the Irish Cancer Society published ‘TTIP, ISDS and the Implications for Irish Public Health Policy’ – a major report into how an investor-State dispute mechanism could potentially affect the ability of the Oireachtas to pass laws that will reduce the cancer rate and save lives.

On 16 July 2015, SFP's temporary partner, the Irish Cancer Society published ‘TTIP, ISDS and the Implications for Irish Public Health Policy’ – a major report into how an investor-State dispute mechanism could potentially affect the ability of the Oireachtas to pass laws that will reduce the cancer rate and save lives.

Recently, Ireland has used legislation to curtail the ability of the tobacco industry to recruit child smokers. The leadership shown by the Irish Government is being challenged in Ireland’s court system by the tobacco companies who fear their profits will drop. They are arguing that their business interests have been negatively affected and should be paid compensation. The reality is that tobacco companies already force the State millions of Euro in health costs, it is unthinkable that they believe they are due money because fewer people are choosing to smoke.

The Irish Cancer Society is confident that in a domestic court of law, public health will trump the rights of such companies.

The introduction of any form of ISDS allows multinational companies to circumvent the domestic courts system and effectively sue the country through the confidential arbitration mechanism that has been criticised by academics as being ‘broken’.

It is via ISDS that Australia is being sued by tobacco companies for their extremely successful introduction of standardised packaging of tobacco, and why in turn other countries who want to introduce the measure have delayed their plans thanks to the threat of expensive litigation.

As negotiations continue, on 8 July 2015 the European Parliament passed a ‘compromise text’ on TTIP that promises to ‘to replace the ISDS-system with a new system […] where private interests cannot undermine public policy objectives’. While this may address many of the issues around ISDS, it remains to be seen whether it will address the major imbalance in such arbitration cases.

The Society believes that TTIP can exist without a commercial arbitration mechanism. Latin American countries are actively seeking to withdraw for trade agreements with ISDS. South Africa has cancelled trade agreements with Germany, Spain and Belgium in a backlash against ISDS. Australia has decided not to include an investor dispute mechanism in some of its future trade negotiations.

It is for these reasons the Irish Cancer Society commissioned Dr John Reynolds of the London School of Economics and Dr Joshua Curtis of Maynooth University to investigate the effect of such a mechanism on public health policy in Ireland.

The report is available in two formats:

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