In an unprecedented decision, the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes allows limited public participation in the Methanex vs. the United States case

February 10, 2004
On January 30, 2004, the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) adopted procedures ( for non-disputing party participation set out in part B of the Statement of the NAFTA Free Trade Commission on such participation regarding the Methanex vs. the United States case.

In October of 2000, Earthjustice assisted CIEL, along with Communities for a Better Environment and the Bluewater Network of Earth Island Institute, in requesting permission to participate jointly in the arbitration as a friend of the court. The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), a non-governmental organization based out of Winnipeg, Canada, also petitioned ICSID to participate in the arbitration. Although international arbitration tribunals had never before permitted citizens to participate in their secretive processes, and Methanex opposed the request, a few months later the tribunal decided that they had the authority to allow us to make written submissions, although they deferred a definitive decision for later in the case.

In August 2002, the NAFTA tribunal dismissed a number of Methanex’s claims but allowed Methanex to prepare a second amended statement of claim on one remaining claim. Methanex filed a second amended statement of claim a few months later. In January of 2003 CIEL and others restated our requests to make written submissions as friends of the court, and in June the Tribunal indicated that it would issue an order to amici to submit written briefs, the order it issued last week.

Although we will now be permitted to make written submissions and watch the hearings, and it is a sign of progress, there is still much work to be done in the quest to make ICSID and other international dispute settlement bodies more transparent and inclusive.

For more information, please contact Marcos Orellana.