Week of mobilization in Geneva to stop corporate abuse

The first session of the open ended intergovernmental working group for the elaboration of an International Binding Instrument on Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises with respect to human rights  is taking place at the UN in Geneva from 6 to 9 July 2015. 

As established by the Resolution A/HRC/26/9 adopted in June 2014,  this is the first of three sessions which will take place on a year basis from now onwards. The first two sessions are devoted to conducting discussion about content, scope, nature and form of the future international instrument. In particular the first meeting is envisaged  to collect inputs (oral and written) from states and relevant stakeholders and to submit a report on progress made to the Human Rights Council.

SID has joined the broader group of CSOs (within and outside the Treaty Alliance movement) to attend this first session of the working group in Geneva.

A week of mobilization #weekofaction has been organized by the Treaty Alliance and the Dismantle Corporate Power campaign  to raise awareness on the importantce of this process towards the treaty and to put pressure on governments on the key issues at stake:

- The treaty must address the needs of communities and the process should ensure that the voices and instances of affected communities are heard;

- Private sector undue influence and Conflict of Interests can not be accepted.  

- Human rights and environmental abuses must be prevented and regulated in any country and all states have the responsibility for that.

- States must ensure that: judicial remedies for abuses occurring everywhere are put in place; human rights defenders and whistleblowers are protected; strong accountability mechanisms are envisaged and implemented.  

The fact that the issues of corporate abuses and TNCs impunity are back to be discussed at the UN  is already a victory of people and civil society,  CSOs representatives have stressed in these days.

However, we must be aware – Flavio Valente of Fian pointed out during the CSO preparatory meeting held on July 4-5 – that while we are discussing how to stop corporate influence, the business sector is already playing a strong influence within the UN system. The ongoing Post 2015 and FFD3  processes amply show that. In this regard, great concern has been expressed by CSOs and major groups representatives in response to the FFD Zero Draft weeks ago, as it:

'exposes  an unjustified belief in the private sector, without unpacking the difference between domestic private entities and transnational multinational corporations and reasserting the need to re-orient the current unsustainable business model through binding and mandatory frameworks. The promotion of public-private partnerships (PPPs) and the use of public finance to support private investments equals to a redistribution of public resources for private interest and the socialization of costs and risks to promote the private gains for the few. In this context, we are particularly alarmed by the emphasis on large infrastructural projects that may ossify existing extractive growth strategies with profound macro-economic consequences, and the equal push to turn infrastructure into an asset class, which shifts pressure to generate maximum returns on investments to public sectors, users, and taxpayers and promoting the promotion of public private partnerships (PPPs) General views on FFD3 zero draft by Stefano Prato

It is clear that the issues on the agenda this week in Geneva may have great echos in the various ongoing processes such as the Post 2015, FFD3, Climate Change. It is therefore important that synergies are created among the various ongoing processes to avoid creating silos and to become more systemic. Civil society and social movements must play a key role in this direction in order to reinforce each other in the achievement of pro-poor and people driven policies and remedies which are sustainable and respectful of human rights, and to support each other in holding governments accountable with respect to the implementation of their promises, as well as for the monitoring, review and follow up processes to come.

By Angela Zarro, Society for International Development

Treaty Alliance statement

Dismantle Corporate Power Press release