Tobacco Free Initiative (TFI)

International tribunal upholds states’ rights to protect health through tobacco control

Geneva
12 July 2016

An international tribunal has upheld the sovereign authority of states to protect health through tobacco control. The World Bank's International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) has confirmed that tobacco control measures applied by the Government of Uruguay did not violate the terms of an investment agreement between Uruguay and Switzerland, under which the dispute was initiated.

The decision was informed by a joint submission or amicus brief, from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) Secretariat. The brief provided an overview of global tobacco control, including the role of the WHO FCTC. It set out the public health evidence underlying Uruguay’s tobacco packaging and labelling laws and detailed state practice in implementing similar measures.

The Tribunal accepted submission of the amicus brief on the basis that it provided an independent perspective on the matters in the dispute and contributed expertise from “qualified agencies”.1 The Tribunal subsequently relied on the brief at several points of the factual and legal analysis in their decision. 2

In accepting submission of the amicus brief the Tribunal noted that given the “public interest involved in this case” the amicus brief would “support the transparency of the proceeding”.3 Now that the decision of the Tribunal has been released, the WHO and WHO FCTC Secretariat make available below their submissions to the Tribunal.

The tribunal’s award affirms that Parties to the WHO FCTC can confidently implement the Convention and its Guidelines to protect present and future generations from the devastating consequences of tobacco consumption.


Footnotes

1 Philip Morris Brand Sàrl (Switzerland), Philip Morris Products S.A. (Switzerland) and Abal Hermanos S.A. (Uruguay) v. Oriental Republic of Uruguay (ICSID Case No. ARB/10/7), Procedural Order No. 3 (February 17, 2015) at paras. 25 and 28.

2 Philip Morris Brand Sàrl (Switzerland), Philip Morris Products S.A. (Switzerland) and Abal Hermanos S.A. (Uruguay) v. Oriental Republic of Uruguay (ICSID Case No. ARB/10/7), Decision on the Merits (July 8, 2016)