Business, ISDS
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How to use our ISDS database

Instruction manual for our ISDS database and map

Are you a journalist, activist, lawyer or just interested in investment arbitration (also known as ISDS)? Use our interactive map and our database to find more about how ISDS has affected your country.

Western Europe is at the centre of ISDS, we reported recently. Most ISDS claims, claims by companies for compensation by governments, originate from Western Europe and the US. We have detailed how this has affected Indonesia, Venezuela and Uganda, through case studies. But the database we compiled and the interactive map we created harbor much more information and potential stories. And we encourage everyone to use our information to find and tell their own stories. Here are a few tips to get started.

1. Look at our map and start clicking

Whether you’re from Argentina, Mozambique, Nigeria or Thailand, you’ll find ISDS cases that you’re country was the respondent country to in our map. Click on Nigeria from example, and see that the government has only been sued once. Click on the country the claim originated from (by following the line) and find out who filed the claim, in what year, what their claim was, etc (click on ‘more’ if you want a description of the case). In this case, it was Shell Nigeria Ultra Deep Limited, a daughter company of the Anglo-Dutch energy giant, that started the case in 2007 and terminated it in 2011, when a deal was reached on the matter. Now, if you’re either Nigerian, British, Italian or Dutch, you’ll immediately understand that this is connected to the OPL 245 saga, that Premium Times, Global Witness and OneWorld have reported on extensively. It becomes even more interesting when you find out that the deal that was reached that ended the ISDS case, might be reversed by the current Nigerian government. What will Shell do when the Nigerians decide to do so? Will they sue again? For how much?

2. Look at the map ‘the other way around’

We also created a map that shows ISDS cases ‘the other way around’. Now, if you click on your country, you find if and to where ISDS cases originated from your country. Now follow the line(s) to the respondent country, click on it, and find out more about the case(s). Note that there have only been three cases that originated from African countries ever (two from Egypt and one from South Africa). Another interesting fact to take notice of is that a lot of small island countries show up as origin countries, many of which have a reputation of being tax havens (like Bermuda and the Bahamas).

3. Download our database and start crunching numbers

If you want to know the mean claim amount, which country was sued the most in 2013, or which arbitrators were most often hired by the claimants, download our database and find out. The database can be downloaded as csv or xlsx. Both can be opened using Microsoft Excel or similar programs. In addition, you can use the newly available UNCTAD database of ISDS cases, which includes data from 2015 as well.

4. Let us know what you find

Find something interesting? Please let us know. Do not be shy with questions either. You can reach us at frank [at] frankmulder [dot] info, info [at] evaschram [dot] nl or adrianahomolova [at] oneworld [dot] nl.

Filed under: Business, ISDS


Eva Schram is an investigative reporter at OneWorld. In her work, she focuses on the practices of big multinationals in foreign countries. She thinks companies should behave the same abroad as they would at home. She wrote about Shell in Nigeria, Dutch dredging companies in Egypt and Eritrean migrant routes in Europe.

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