Challenging Corporate Power in Brussels
From September 5th to 8th, several activities were held in Brussels to discuss an international call for a People’s Treaty and the establishment of a new regulatory regime to put an end to the impunity of transnational corporations.
On September 5th, a round table entitled “Challenging Corporate Power – Investments and impunity in an era of crisis – What alternatives?”, was held in the European Parliament. It was convened by the GUE/NGL group in conjunction with several social movement and civil society organisations, including: the Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and End the Impunity of Transnational Corporations, Enlazando Alternativas, Transnational Institute (TNI), Observatorio de la Deuda en la Globalización (ODG), Ecologistas en Acción, War on Want, OMAL - Paz con Dignidad, CADTM, CETIM, OIDHACO and the S2B network. Over 170 people participated in the round table event, including a group of European parliamentarians from different political groups, key actors from social movements in Latin America, Africa and Asia, trade unions, affected communities, internationally renowned legal specialists and representatives of the governments of Bolivia, Ecuador and Venezuela.
The various interventions made during the event brought to light the architecture guaranteeing the impunity of transnational corporations and that facilitates the corporate capture of the European Union. Concrete cases of violations of the peoples’ rights, including the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, which killed over 1132 workers and left thousands injured - the majority of which were women - and the massacre of 34 mine workers in the Lonmin Plcs platinum mine in Marikana (South Africa), were given greater visibility. Representatives from countries from southern Europe also denounced the profound effects austerity measures are having, how they are related to corporate interests and their grave impacts on the population.
During the round table, social movements gathered in Moscow, Russia, for the G20 Counter Summit were able to participate via a live online connection. The groups in Russia reaffirmed the G20’s incapacity to address the problems of financial deregulation and denounced its corporate capture by the interests of TNCs from the financial sector. Groups on both sides of the connection rejected the threat of a possible attack on Syria, demanding that the European Parliament take a common position against such a possibility.
Proposals like extraterritorial obligations for TNCs were also presented and the decision of ALBA countries, now supported by UNASUR, to create a just, regional system for resolving disputes in the area of investment was welcomed.
It was also resolved that the creation of an international institution to judge transnational corporations for their crimes should be promoted. The European Parliament was called on to create a group that would be responsible for following up on this issue.
During the other meetings organised by the Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and End the Impunity of Transnational Corporations and the Enlazando Alternativas Network in Brussels, organisations that participated reiterated that in their work on the architecture of impunity for TNCs, the fight against Free Trade Agreements is a priority, especially considering the “For an End to the WTO and the wave of FTAs exploding all over the world” Call to Action from the Gerak Lawan Network from Indonesia and Social Movements for an Alternative Asia (SMAA) in preparation for the 9th WTO Ministerial meeting to be held in Bali in December. Furthermore, in the framework of the EU-LAC Summit scheduled to take place in Brussels in 2015, the organisations from Enlazando Alternativas will explore with other networks and organisations from Belgium, Europe and Latin America the possibility of holding a People’s Summit. Finally, it should be noted that during the four days of activities in Brussels, the proposal to elaborate a People’s Treaty played a central role.