Dismantling Transnational Corporations

Day 3 at the World Social Forum
02 April 2013
In the media

One of the most impacting meetings took place Thursday, when more than 100 people filled a lecture hall, organized by the coalition Stop Corporate Impunity, to hear an array of speakers on a panel called “Confronting the Power of Transnational Corporations and Unpacking the Global Investment, Trade and Financial Regimes.”

Stop Corporate Impunity formally declared itself as an organizing body last June at a gathering in Rio. Since then, some 150 organizations have joined the coalition, which seeks to radically realign the relationship of power between corporations and people by establishing mechanisms to prosecute transnational companies that break laws and damage communities and ecosystems with impunity. The goal is to work towards a global framework where mega-corporations are eliminated altogether.

“What we are witnessing with corporate power is actually a crime against humanity on a major scale, but we don’t yet have the instruments to deal with those crimes,” said Brid Brennan, who works with the Transnational Institute, which helped organize the coalition. One of the instruments being developed is an international People’s Tribunal that will be able to bring legal cases against destructive, as-yet-unaccountable corporations.

Brennan stressed the urgency of thinking and acting in new, different ways in relation to transnational corporations, by creating “a new convergence to confront this new [form] of corporate power, which has not only taken over sectors of the economy—it has taken over the planet.”

Put simply: “We need a global campaign to reign in the power of corporations and to dismantle them,” she said. Winning the communications war, both for public and expert opinion, and building a People’s Treaty to provide a framework for sanctioning and bringing corporations to trial for their crimes, are two primary goals.

“Of course we’re not rosy-eyed idealists. We have a great sense of corporate power. We have seen so many of our comrades shot, imprisoned and continually criminalized for their resistance. But we believe in our contra-power: the fact that we have so much resistance alive in so many parts of the world is the source of our hope.”