Corporations have become immensely powerful in recent decades, capturing the state and international bodies, privatising democracy, determining economic and social policy, putting in place a trade and investment agenda that gives them extensive rights and effective impunity for violations of human rights or destruction of the environment. TNI has helped build an international campaign to hold transnational corporations legally accountable and to support frontline communities seeking justice for corporate crimes and for an end to impunity and committed to building collective alternatives.
Goal (2011-2015): Move towards the establishment of a treaty for binding regulations for transnational corporations, end impunity, and secure justice for communities affected by corporate abuses.View
The Open-Ended Inter-Governmental Working Group (OEIGWG), mandated to establish a binding treaty in 2014, held its first working Session in July in Geneva – thus placing a Treaty on Transnational Corporations firmly on the agenda of the UN.
In advance of the meeting, TNI facilitated an extensive international consultation process which consolidated eight key proposals to submit to the OEIGWG in July 2015, which focused on the nature, the scope, the form and the content of the future legally binding international instrument. These proposals brought together the experience of affected communities and social movements with the analysis of experts drawn the fields of human rights, political economy and international law.
TNI followed up this submission with extensive engagement with the Ambassador of the Permanent Mission of Ecuador and Chair of the IGWG, as well as with other Permanent Missions based in Geneva. Prior to the meeting , TNI helped bring together a wide range of social movements and human rights networks to hold formal dialogues with the Brazilian government on the issue, shifting the Brazilian government from a position of abstention at the UNHRC in 2014 to actively supporting the OEIGWG in 2015.
TNI also engaged a growing number of officials from UNCTAD and other international bodies. This included meetings with European parliamentarians – providing high profile for the Treaty process within the European Parliament. Growing support for the Treaty was expressed with a formal resolution adopted at the Global Parliamentary Forum held in Tunis during the World Social Forum in March 2015.
During the OEIGWG meetings in Geneva in July, TNI and partners co-organised a series of events and seminars within the UN, as well as setting up a public space for Peoples’ Mobilisation in front of the UN Buildings – to ensure outreach to the public and to bring outside pressure to the debates on the floor of the UN.
Inside the UN, TNI and partners made direct interventions and oral statements from the floor and actively dialogued with UN governmental delegates, particularly the nations of Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, India, China, South Africa, Namibia, Algeria, Morocco, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil. Although the EU states tried to derail the process, the participating 50 states endorsed Ecuador’s proposed programme of work and the first Session of the OEIGWG was successfully concluded. Government members and policy makers within the UNHRC acknowledged the high visibility and constructive contributions of civil society during the process.
The legally binding instrument must:
TNI is actively involved in two major networks addressing corporate accountability: the Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity that mobilises a global network of affected communities, movements, networks and organisations and the Treaty Alliance which engages the the newly formed Inter-Governmental Working Group (OEIGWG) at the UNHRC. The Global Campaign is currently made up of 208 organisations and has regional hubs coordinated by TNI partners in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
As well as coordinating the work of the network through regular meetings and calls, TNI also continually seeks to bring in new members as well as provide capacity-building for movements on the issues. In 2015, TNI held important meetings with movements in Brazil and in South Africa – and carried out training on corporate impunity with Via Campesina members in Mozambique and activists in Spain.
The international movement coalesced in 2015 around five major moments of mobilisation which put the issue of corporate accountability in the spotlight and made it a priority issue for many social movements. The first at the Alternative Mining Indaba in Capetown in February. The second in Tunis during the World Social Forum in March, where around 500 people gathered to learn about the campaign. The third was at the EU-CELAC Summit in June that also included an Impunity Tour to headquarters of corporate lobby organisations. The fourth was during the meetings of of the UN Human Rights Council OEIGWG in July.
And the final gathering was at the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris in December where the corporate campaign forged strong links with climate activists, including support from over 120 representatives of trade unions, womens’ movements and peasant movements. In the run-up to the UN climate talks, TNI also co-published Lobby Planet drawing attention to the responsibility of corporations for the climate crisis.
TNI President, Susan George, published her 17th book, Shadow Sovereigns, an incisive and accessible introduction to how corporations have seized power and distorted democracy globally. The book drew on years of TNI research and meetings and was praised by MIT intellectual Noam Chomsky for its insights into “the carefully hidden core of global decision-making”.
In January, TNI also launched its fourth edition of the annual flagship State of Power report that dug deep to analyse the ideological, legal, financial, and sectoral policies that frame corporate power. The report received widespread praise and was one of TNI’s most popular reports of the year, receiving 4761 visits and downloads.
In October, TNI helped unpack how financialisation of the global economy has increased inequality and undermined democracy in a popular primer on ‘Financialisation’ that was viewed more than 3000 times.
TNI continued to document cases of corporate impunity, collecting – in collaboration with affected communities -, 29 cases of TNC violations of human rights. 15 cases, heard at a Peoples’ Tribunal in 2014, were mapped digitally by the global research project EJOLT (Environmental Justice Organizations, Liabilities and Trade – http://www.ejolt.org/) . Eight cases were examined in more detail in a book, Peoples Sovereignty vs Impunity Inc. produced jointly with the Observatorio de la Deuda en la Globalización in Barcelona.
TNI has also actively supported communities facing impunity, mobilising solidarity and facilitating meetings with experts and politicians. In November, for example, TNI facilitated a meeting of communities affected by Chevron (Ecuador) and Plus Petrol (Peru) with international law experts.
Diana Aguiar/Monica Vargas
Coordinator of Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples’ Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity
Sol Trumbo Vila
Jorge San Vicente Feduci
Natsumi Koike (Japan)
Asia (and Middle East)
See full list on Stop Corporate Impunity website