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.
Social organisations and movements, communities affected by the operations of transnational corporations, and others fighting for social and environmental justice around the world, will be in Geneva from October 23-26. This will be the third time the Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity mobilises for the establishment of a United Nations (UN) treaty to impose on states and corporations international obligations to guarantee access to justice for affected communities, groups and individuals whose human rights have been violated by transnational corporations.
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.
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.
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.
On 26 june 2014 the UN Human Rights Council adopted resolution 26-9 giving an intergovernmental working group a mandate to elaborate and an international legally binding framework of human rights law with respect to the activities of Transnational Corporations. Here's a clip of the second session of the working group as Susan George is given the floor.
John Ruggie's proposed guidelines to the UN on Human Rights and Transnational Corporations fail to bring TNCs under any binding law, thefore enabling human rights and environmental crimes to continue with impunity.
This article focusses on TNCs as global actors, the structures and mechanisms that grant them impunity for wrong doing, and the deepening and widespread popular resistance to TNC extractivism and destruction of the planet.
Delegates to the Our Oceans conference are gathering to discuss ocean sustainability, but there’s a big problem: their proposals will only sanitize continued resource extraction and environmental and ecological degradation.
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.
Northern African countries are key suppliers of natural resources to the global economy, from large- scale oil and gas extraction in Algeria and Tunisia, to phosphate mining in Tunisia and Morocco, to water-intensive agribusiness paired with tourism in Morocco and Tunisia. The commodification of nature and privatisation of resources entailed in these projects has led to serious environmental damages, and forced these countries into a subservient position in the global economy, sustaining and deepening global inequalities.
The international dimensions of Bill C-45 are of utmost importance not only for Canada itself but for many countries around the world that are moving in the direction of legally regulating the cannabis market
Political impasse continues in Myanmar. Peace talks and general elections have failed to achieve national breakthroughs. All parties — both domestic and international — need to reflect on this failure. Civil society networks and representative governance must be strengthened at the community level if peace and democracy are to be built.
Around the world, millions of people depend on the cultivation of coca, opium poppy and cannabis for basic subsistence. The 1961 Convention introduced strict controls on the cultivation of these plants and banned centuries-old traditional medicinal, cultural and ceremonial uses. The 1988 Convention reinforced those provisions, obliging states to eradicate illicit cultivation and to impose criminal sanctions.
Prof John Ruggie has shared his comments on the Zero Draft treaty on TNCs and human rights on this blog earlier this month. His core concerns are that the zero draft has not adequately deal with ‘scale’ and ‘liability’. This response argues that Ruggie’s arguments in opposition to the binding treaty are misdirected and they fail to recognise the historic opportunity offered by the Human Right Council to create a human rights remedy system for corporate abuse across national boundaries.
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'.