The aim of international trade rules and institutions is to discipline governments to ensure that national laws do not unduly inhibit international commerce. In their enthusiasm to promote commerce, however, trade negotiators have established a trading system that unduly inhibits the ability of governments to protect health, safety, and the environment at both the national and international levels. Of particular concern is the recent explosion of trade agreements, bilateral investment treaties, and host government agreements which allow investors to use investment rules in secret investment arbitrations to gain compensation at the expense of local environmental, safety, and human rights laws. CIEL works to reform the international economic laws, policies, and institutions to promote equitable and sustainable trade and investment. Our objectives include:

  • Enhancing the capacity of civil society and developing countries to help develop international trade and investment policies that promote sustainable development;
  • Strengthening regimes and institutions in policymaking involving environment, trade, investment and intellectual property; and
  • Reforming national trade policy-making to ensure that environmental organizations, policymakers and experts have a stronger voice in the development of trade policy.

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