Giant corporations have taken control of our food. In the last two years, these companies have begun the process of merging and re-arranging themselves into just four colossal corporations. The larger these companies grow, the less we can control them. And the less control we have, the harder it is for us to build the kind of food system that more and more of us want: one that recognizes the value of people, respects the planet, and provides decent, dignified work. How did this happen, and what can we do about it?
Agroecology has gained ground in recent years as the need to transform our agrifood system becomes increasingly clear. The food and financial crises of 2008, and the deepening climate and environmental crises, have revealed deep challenges for the way we produce and consume food. Global agrarian justice and food sovereignty movements, organised in global convergences like the Nyéléni Forum, have emphasised the importance of agroecology in this transformation. They highlight the political nature of agroecology: ‘it requires us to challenge and transform structures of power in society'.
For decades, affected communities around the globe have been resisting the modus operandi of transnational corporations (TNCs) in their territories and workplaces and documenting systemic human rights violations and the track record of corporate impunity with their lives and their deaths. Corporate impunity is embedded in and protected by an ‘architecture of impunity’ that legitimises and legalises the operations of TNCs. This architecture has been established through free trade and investment agreements, the World Trade Organisation (WTO), the structural adjustment policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and other financial instruments and the aggressive push for public-private partnerships (PPPs). At the core of this architecture is the infamous investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, a private arbitration system that allows TNCs to sue states whenever they consider that their future profits are threatened by new measures or policies aiming at improving social and environmental protection. Thus, it neutralises the function of the state, whose primary responsibility is to defend public interest and protect the well-being of its citizens and the planet from corporate interests.
The Transnational Institute (TNI) in the Netherlands is issuing an open call for essays, accessible papers, infographics and artistic collaborations for its forthcoming State of Power report launched in late January 2020 to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos. The focus for our ninth annual edition is on 'The Corporation'.
Law is fundamentally limited in its potential to challenge corporations' power and their harm, because the law has been created to facilitate capitalist accumulation and therefore the rights of the property-owning class to force others to submit to its will. It cannot, therefore, be expected to have any emancipatory potential.
No stakeholder-based global governance system comes close to matching the democratic legitimacy of a citizen-based and nation-state-based governance system, but there are ways global governance can and should be reformed.
Susan George joined an expert panel on the first day of a meeting of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council, tasked with developing a treaty on transnational corporations and human rights. She spoke with the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power about the history of UN action on transnational corporations, the potential pitfalls of the current treaty negotiations, and the range of tax abuses, wage evasion, and investor protection weapons that transnational corporations can use.
The Corporation is capitalism's preeminent institution, dominating our economy, distorting our politics and reshaping society. TNI's ninth flagship State of Power report delves deep into the changing nature of the corporation in a time of digitalisation and financialisation and asks how we might best confront its power and construct alternatives.
Corporations have stepped beyond lobbying governments. They are integrating in policy-making at the national and international levels. From agriculture to technology, decisions historically made by governments are increasingly made by secretive unaccountable bodies run by corporations.
The Covid-19 pandemic has provoked widespread discussion of what kind of future the world should look forward to after the crisis. One of the areas of economic life around which there is spirited debate is the global food system. This paper focuses on how the pandemic has exposed the fragility of the corporate-dominated global food supply system and shown that it is not, as the Food and Agriculture Organization and its allied agencies see it, part of the solution.
The energy transition is in the news. Interest in energy transition ranges from actors such as peoples in resistance, workers, academics, and public administrations, to large corporations, international institutions and governments. The paradigm of energy transition, if it exists, runs a serious risk of being coopted by large companies, of being trivialized and placed at the service of the current system of social reproduction that seeks to perpetuate existing power relations.
The European Commission proposal for a global investor court for investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) – known as the Multilateral Investment Court – threatens to enshrine, expand, and entrench the current system of corporate privilege in future trade deals. A world court for corporations would be the capstone in the architecture of corporate impunity, undermining democratic institutions and lawmaking, and worsening the power imbalance that grants rights, protections, and compensation to corporations at the expense of the public interest.
Geneva: March 16, 2018 – The Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity (Global Campaign) (1) welcomes the presentation and acceptance of the report on the 3rd session of the Open-ended intergovernmental working group (OEIGWG) on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (2) in the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council 37th session.
Our inability to grapple with and adapt to our current ecological crisis has its roots in the world’s social and economic systems that concentrate power and authority in the hands of a few. We currently live in the “Corpocene Epoch,” due to the disproportionate role certain arthropods — directors of large corporations and Wall Street banks — play in the ecological transformations under way. Financial institutions, corporate powers and complicit governments have formed a “fateful triangle” accelerating the effects of climate change and preventing mitigation and adaptation strategies that could plug the gap between our volatile present and future planetary stability.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, transnational corporations are seeking to cement their control of global governance, ensuring it serves the interests of business and profits rather than the wellbeing of humanity. We have collected here key resources for everyone interested in learning more about the crisis of global governance, the transnational corporations' false solutions, and the possibilities for new forms of global democratic governance.
The convergence of corporate, financial, intellectual, political and ideological elites interconnected through board memberships of companies, banks, policy groups, think tanks, foundations, advisory groups and forums has led to what billionaire Warren Buffet referred to as a ‘class war” in which “my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.” In the European Union, it is their choices that are largely reflected in the merciless austerity measures spreading poverty and unemployment as healthcare, education, social services, welfare and social housing are dismantled; as resources and assets are privatized, workers fired, pensions and social security are cut, workers have their rights and benefits dismantled, and the population is pushed into desperation. It is why the struggle for a different Europe must start first with tackling and undermining the power of those waging this war.