Aguas Argentinas S.A., Suez Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona S.A., Vivendi Universal S.A. c. República Argentina. Caso Nº ARB/03/19. [ENG]
Petition to access information and participate at investment arbitration tribunal. Right to act as amicus curiae when public interest and human rights are at stake.
Several organizations of users and consumers, and human rights organizations submitted to International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) a “Petition for Transparency and Public Participation as Amicus Curiae,” within the framework of proceedings started by Aguas Argentinas, Suez and Vivendi. These companies demanded from the State of Argentina an indemnification for damages caused upon their investments as a result of the public utility rates freeze following Argentina's abandonment in 2001 of the system that pegged its currency to the dollar. ICSID allowed the organizations to participate as amicus curiae so that they could provide their perspectives, arguments or specific information on the matter at stake. The international tribunal emphasized that this particular case was “of special public interest” due to the fact that the investments issue related to sewage and water distribution systems of a large metropolitan area, including the city of Buenos Aires and its neighboring municipalities. According to the Tribunal, such systems provide basic public services to millions of people and, therefore, could pose a wide range of complex issues related to public and international law, including human rights issues. The ICSID Tribunal also noted that the acceptance of the amicus briefs could also have the benefit of an increased transparency in arbitration proceedings between investors and States. (Aguas Argentinas S.A., Suez Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona S.A., Vivendi Universal S.A. c. República Argentina. Caso Nº ARB/03/19.)
Keywords: Aguas Argentinas S.A., Suez Sociedad General de Aguas de Barcelona S.A., Vivendi Universal S.A. c. República Argentina. Caso Nº ARB/03/19., Justiciability, Enforcement, ESCR
According to the Tribunal's decision, the petitioning organizations should ask for permission to be accepted as amicus curiae and provide information, including but not limited to information about their identity and background, the nature of their interest in the case, the reasons why the Tribunal should accept the amicus curiae brief.
Petitioners: Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ) (http://www.acij.org.ar), Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) (http://www.cels.org.ar), Centro para el Derecho Internacional Ambiental (CIEL) (http://www.ciel.org), Unión de Usuarios y Consumidores (http://www.usuarios.org.ar) and, Consumidores Libres Cooperativa Limitada de Provisión de Servicios de Acción Comunitaria.
This decision is a fundamental precedent, because it is the first time that an arbitration tribunal working under the ICSID rules decides to accept the participation of civil society organizations as amicus curiae even though the parties (in this case, the companies) had opposed to it. On March 17 2006, in the case Aguas Provinciales de Santa Fe S.A. et al. v. República Argentina (ICSID Case ARB/03/17), the same tribunal confirmed this criterion and accepted the participation of third parties acting as amicus curiae (see case attached).