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.
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 fallout from the current phase of capitalism has become more manifest globally in 2016, provoking unexpected political responses. However, the people most severely impacted by the current economic crisis have largely chosen to support political figures and positions[i] contrary to those that have been elaborated for years by the alter-globalisation left, also known as the global justice movement.
Real World Radio has interviewed Brid Brennan to discuss recent works of the UN Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) in Geneva, including side events of acknowledgement for Berta Caceres, and the proposals provided by the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power (GCDCP) and future plans.
Despite the track record of systemic and systematic violations of the range of human rights, the efforts to establish legally binding obligations and an instrument of enforcement within the UN system have been defeated by determined corporate opposition. The current Guiding Principles developed by the former Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, John Ruggie, do not create "any new international legal obligations" and are therefore non-binding.
The controversial legal case that Canadian mining firm Pacific Rim has launched against El Salvador has added fuel to the growing international debate on the balance of corporate rights and responsibilities and the need for new legal international frameworks to address corporate impunity.
Maxime Combes of Attac France interviews Gonzalo Berron and Brid Brennan on the eve of the debate at the 26th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the need for a new legal framework to end corporate impunity.
Transnational corporations, particularly gas & oil industry, and banking have continued to benefit extraordinarily from the ongoing economic and financial crisis, says Brid Brennan, who presents TNI's State of Power Report 2014 at the Public Eye Awards in Davos.
Over 100 social movement and civil society organisations representing hundreds of thousands of workers, peasants, community groups and indigenous peoples have welcomed the historic call for binding obligations on Transnational corporations made by nine countries together with the African and Arab Groups of States.
The International Call is out for a new regulatory regime that will end the impunity of Transnational Corporations (TNCs). This includes the demand for a World Court that will judge and sanction economic, political and ecological corporate crimes and ensure justice for affected communities and sectors.
Observatory on Debt in Globalisation (ODG), Transnational Institute (TNI), Mónica Vargas, Brid Brennan
24 June 2013
Forty years after Salvador Allende denounced corporate power at the United Nations General Assembly (December 1972), millions of people all over the world are involved in struggles against the human rights violations and the social and environmental injustice generated by transnational corporations.
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.
In response to the aggressive corporate-led trade agenda of the EU, social movements from Latin America and Europe are mounting an Alternative Peoples’ Summit, the Enlazando Alternativas 4, which takes place from May 14-17 in Madrid.
The current paradigmatic crisis needs to be dealt with at the regional level. In this respect, Latin American movements have already mobilised and placed different models of development and integration at the centre of their struggle. However, the European Union model, whereby integration is geared towards the interests of transnational corporations, should be avoided.
Brid Brennan, Jesús Carrión, Erika Gonzalez, Pedro Ramiro, Juan Hernández Zubizarreta, Tom Kucharz, Francesco Martone
16 November 2009
Extensive documentation of the operations of the European transnational corporations in Latin America and the Caribbean and their systematic abuses of human rights is brought to the attention of European policy makers in the European Parliament Hearing held in Brussels on November 18, 2009.