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International trade deals have become vastly complex documents, seeking to govern everything from labor rights to environmental protections. This evolution has drawn alarm from American voters, but their suspicions are often vague.
In this book, investigative journalist Haley Sweetland Edwards offers a detailed look at one little-known but powerful provision in most modern trade agreements that is designed to protect the financial interests of global corporations against the governments of sovereign states. She makes a devastating case that Investor-State Dispute Settlement -- a "shadow court" that allows corporations to sue a nation outside its own court system -- has tilted the balance of power on the global stage. A corporation can use ISDS to challenge a nation's policies and regulations, if it believes those laws are unfair or diminish its future profits. From the 1960s to 2000, corporations brought fewer than 40 disputes, but in the last fifteen years, they have brought nearly 650 -- 54 against Argentina alone.
Edwards conducted extensive research and interviewed dozens of policymakers, activists, and government officials in Argentina, Canada, Bolivia, Ecuador, the European Union, and in the Obama administration. The result is a major story about a significant shift in the global balance of power.
Haley Sweetland Edwards is a correspondent at Time. Previously, she was an editor at the Washington Monthly, where she wrote about policy and regulation. From 2009 to 2012, she lived in Yemen and reported on a half-dozen countries in the Middle East with articles appearing in The Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Foreign Policy online, and in The New York Times' Latitude Blog. Her travel was sponsored largely by a grant from the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting and the Overseas Press Club Fellowship. She started her career as a resident reporter at The Seattle Times. She studied philosophy and history at Yale and journalism and politics at Columbia. She lives in Washington, D.C.