Global Campaign Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity

Week of mobilization to stop corporate crimes and impunity

16 July 2014 by Stop corporate impunity


Final statement from the Global Campaign Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity regarding the WEEK OF MOBILIZATION TO STOP CORPORATE CRIMES AND IMPUNITY

Social movements demand access to justice for those affected by human rights violations and ecological crimes committed by corporations!

July 2014 - The ongoing and past violations of human rights by Transnational Corporations (TNCs) urgently demand radical action. Tragedies like the 2013 Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh that killed 1,132 factory (mostly women) workers, the 2012 Marikana massacre of 34 miners in South Africa, the destruction caused by Shell in Nigeria’s Ogoniland and the decades-long devastation caused by Chevron in the Ecuadorean Amazon – along with countless others – are evidence of the immediate necessity for access to justice and remedy for victims.

On June 26th, 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a resolution establishing an intergovernmental working group with the mandate of drafting a legally binding instrument to enforce human rights obligations on Transnational Corporations. After intense debate, a majority of twenty member states of the UNHRC, representing a population of 3.8 billion people, voted in favour of this historic resolution. Human rights defenders and communities affected by TNCs along with social movements and campaign networks played a key role in achieving this important historic victory.

Considering previous attempts to establish a legally binding human rights regime for TNCs, the intergovernmental process to develop a broad-ranging treaty on business and human rights will be intense and inevitably lead to confrontations with corporate power. Despite these considerable hurdles, social movements, human rights defenders and affected communities are engaged to win this battle. The Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power – a network of social movements, organizations, campaigns and affected communities – is determined to strengthen the mobilization of a broad and sustained counter-power that will ensure that the scope, content and applicability of such an intergovernmental Treaty responds to the needs of victims.

The social movements, networks and organizations from the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity are collectively building an International Peoples’ Treaty that affirms an alternative vision of law and justice coming from the PEOPLE. [1] The International Peoples’ Treaty places the people as the paramount subjects, political actors and source of the laws and norms of a political, economic and legal system that challenges the current framework of extraordinary privileges and impunity enjoyed by TNCs. The International Peoples’ Treaty is above all a political document and process that emerges from the need to fight against the existing architecture of impunity and the urgent demands for a binding legal norm in order to stop corporate abuses. Even though the term “Treaty,” legally refers to a document signed by states, our vision is that the people, beyond states, can make law: we defend the notion of international law “from below.”

It is from within this radical and subversive framework that the will and determination emerges to overcome the lack of imagination and political will of those saying that a binding Treaty on TNCs is impossible. While The Peoples Treaty represents a political vision from below, it is complimentary to the intergovernmental binding instrument set to be negotiated by the UNHRC inter-governmental process. The Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power welcomes the possibilities opened by the resolution to move away from the dominant model of voluntary and non-binding rules for TNCs towards a genuine legal regime that will provide access to justice for victims of corporate violations of human rights.

Building on this context of resistances and struggles against corporate power, The Week of Mobilization to Stop Corporate Crimes and Impunity (Geneva, June 23-27) was organized by a coalition of social movements, networks and civil society organizations known as the Treaty Alliance. Events took place during the last week of the 26th session of the UNHRC, when the Council was scheduled to discuss and vote on whether or not to launch a process to create a binding human rights instrument for TNCs. The Week of Mobilization represented an important moment for social movements and civil society organizations to converge and work collectively for a stronger and more effective system to defend human rights from corporate violations, and the rights of those affected by environmental crimes.

The goal of this Week of Mobilization was not only to pressure the UNHRC on the issue of binding regulations for TNCs but also to expose the global political and economic ‘Architecture of Impunity’ that for decades has been protecting the operations of TNCs at the expense of human rights. This political, economic and legal regime is made possible through the following mechanisms: Investment Agreements; Investor to State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions and arbitration tribunals such as World Bank World Bank
WB
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

’s ICSID ICSID The International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) is a World Bank arbitration mechanism for resolving disputes that may arise between States and foreign investors. It was established in 1965 when the Washington Convention of that year entered into force.

Contrary to some opinions defending the fact that ICSID mechanism has been widely accepted in the American hemisphere, many States in the region continue to keep their distance: Canada, Cuba, Mexico and Dominican Republic are not party to the Convention. In the case of Mexico, this attitude is rated by specialists as “wise and rebellious”. We must also recall that the following Caribbean States remain outside the ICSID jurisdiction: Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica (Commonwealth of) and Suriname. In South America, Brazil has not ratified (or even signed) the ICSID convention and the 6th most powerful world economy seems to show no special interest in doing so.

In the case of Costa Rica, access to ICSID system is extremely interesting: Costa Rica signed the ICSID Convention in September, 1981 but didn’t ratify it until 12 years later, in 1993. We read in a memorandum of GCAB (Global Committee of Argentina Bondholders) that Costa Rica`s decision resulted from direct United States pressure due to the Santa Elena expropriation case, which was decided in 2000 :
"In the 1990s, following the expropriation of property owned allegedly by an American investor, Costa Rica refused to submit the dispute to ICSID arbitration. The American investor invoked the Helms Amendment and delayed a $ 175 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank to Costa Rica. Costa Rica consented to the ICSID proceedings, and the American investor ultimately recovered U.S. $ 16 million”.

https://icsid.worldbank.org/apps/ICSIDWEB/Pages/default.aspx
; the World Trade Organization dispute settlement mechanism; the International Monetary Fund IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.

http://imf.org
’s imposed structural adjustment Structural Adjustment Economic policies imposed by the IMF in exchange of new loans or the rescheduling of old loans.

Structural Adjustments policies were enforced in the early 1980 to qualify countries for new loans or for debt rescheduling by the IMF and the World Bank. The requested kind of adjustment aims at ensuring that the country can again service its external debt. Structural adjustment usually combines the following elements : devaluation of the national currency (in order to bring down the prices of exported goods and attract strong currencies), rise in interest rates (in order to attract international capital), reduction of public expenditure (’streamlining’ of public services staff, reduction of budgets devoted to education and the health sector, etc.), massive privatisations, reduction of public subsidies to some companies or products, freezing of salaries (to avoid inflation as a consequence of deflation). These SAPs have not only substantially contributed to higher and higher levels of indebtedness in the affected countries ; they have simultaneously led to higher prices (because of a high VAT rate and of the free market prices) and to a dramatic fall in the income of local populations (as a consequence of rising unemployment and of the dismantling of public services, among other factors).

IMF : http://www.worldbank.org/
programs which are now being replicated in Europe by the Troika Troika Troika: IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank, which together impose austerity measures through the conditions tied to loans to countries in difficulty.

IMF : https://www.ecb.europa.eu/home/html/index.en.html
& Competitiveness Pact policies; multi-lateral and bi-lateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) such as the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), FTA EU-Colombia, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), among others.

The Week of Mobilization combined effective strategies in Geneva outside and inside the UN, with sustained advocacy work in national capitals. The activities included a hearing of the Permanent People’s Tribunal; the launch of the Campaign’s Peoples Treaty base document and a Global Consultation process; a number of Side Events within the UN; frequent advocacy meetings with member state delegations; a Press Conference; a Conference on Human rights compliant and sustainable food systems & Extraterritorial Obligations (ETOs); and a mobilization outside of the UN followed by a tour of corporate hotspots in Geneva, including the WTO WTO
World Trade Organisation
The WTO, founded on 1st January 1995, replaced the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs (GATT). The main innovation is that the WTO enjoys the status of an international organization. Its role is to ensure that no member States adopt any kind of protectionism whatsoever, in order to accelerate the liberalization global trading and to facilitate the strategies of the multinationals. It has an international court (the Dispute Settlement Body) which judges any alleged violations of its founding text drawn up in Marrakesh.

.

The Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power co-organized the Geneva Hearing of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on Monday June 23rd where representatives from affected communities testified on the disastrous impacts of corporate activities, such as the decades-long oil pollution by Chevron in the Ecuadorean Amazon [2] and by Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria. Other cases exposed how human rights have been systematically violated also by the Coca-Cola Company in Colombia; by Israel’s water services company Mekorot in Palestine; [3] and by the Spanish Hydro dam company Hidralia in Guatemala. The mining industry was also on trial through the cases involving the Canadian company Pacific Rim Mining/Oceana Gold Corporation, in El Salvador, and the United Kingdom based Lonmin Corporation in South Africa. The case of Anglo-Swiss Glencore was emblematic of the global reach of a single mining company, and testimony from communities affected by Glencore in Peru, Colombia, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Philippines provided a clear example of how TNCs can violate human rights worldwide with complete impunity. Cutting across all of the cases presented during the hearing was a systematic lack of access to justice for the victims of intimidation, persecution, murder and environmental destruction.

This PPT hearing was a continuation of the three previous sessions organized by the bi-regional network Enlazando Alternativas to judge 46 cases of human rights violations committed by European TNCs in Latin America. Like its predecessors, the Geneva hearing put a spotlight on the actions of TNCs, the complicity of governments in ongoing violations and how the dominant global legal, economic and political regime allows TNCs to act with impunity. The hearing in Geneva is also linked to other processes, such as the PPTs in Mexico and Canada, the preparation for a Session on TNCs violations in Southern Africa, another regarding the retail industry in Asia, as well as the one about the Rights of Nature organized to run parallel to COP20 in Peru in December 2014.

These political processes, led by social movements, affirm that the battle for an alternative juridical framework is a much broader and fundamental struggle to abolish the hegemonic corporate regime of domination, and to establish peoples’ sovereignty over the commons and reclaim public interest Interest An amount paid in remuneration of an investment or received by a lender. Interest is calculated on the amount of the capital invested or borrowed, the duration of the operation and the rate that has been set. from corporate capture.

Stop the architecture of corporate impunity!

Dismantle the regime of corporate power!



Footnotes

[1The International Peoples’ Treaty base document and a Global Consultation process was launched during the Week of Mobilization.

[2The case of Chevron in Ecuador is emblematic of the need for a binding treaty. After 20 years of litigation marked by disputes over jurisdiction, the 30,000 people affected by the company won a case against Chevron in Ecuador’s Supreme Court. However, the company refuses to pay the court ordered compensation in absolute disrespect of the Ecuadorean juridical system.

[3In the context of the bombing of Palestine territory, the “water apartheid” imposed upon the Palestinian people by the State of Israel and its water services transnational corporation Mekorot is yet another evidence of Israeli state’s crimes against humanity. The Global Campaign expresses its solidarity with the people of Palestine and their struggle against the military occupation, the escalation of violence against innocent civilians and the transnational corporations that profit from these.

CADTM

COMMITTEE FOR THE ABOLITION OF ILLEGITIMATE DEBT

35 rue Fabry
4000 - Liège- Belgique

00324 226 62 85
info@cadtm.org

cadtm.org