“In this global, neoliberal phase of capitalism, the power of corporations and financiers has far outstripped the ability of elected governments to moderate or control them. Slavery and forced labor are widespread and many of the victims are women and children. Identifying the capitalist system as one of the root causes of war, WILPF has always had the goal of revolutionary change by non-violent means for purposes of social and economic justice. This remains our objective.”
These words in WILPF’s 2015 Manifesto reflect the difficulties that today’s world is facing in framing the activities of transnational companies. In today’s world, economies are interlinked and the activities of companies go beyond the borders of one country. However, international regulations have not developed as fast as these activities. This has created legal gaps, in particular in respect of accountability for human rights violations.
These gaps have been used by transnational companies to avoid their obligations and operate with impunity, even when their actions violate human rights. The examples of the disasters in Rana Plaza or Bhopal are appalling examples of the lack of access to justice and redress for human rights abuses.
A treaty will be negotiated at the United Nations Human Rights Council to frame the activities of transnational corporations and to establish a clear justice mechanism for citizens whose rights have been violated. These negotiations are the starting point of a promising process, but also the fruit of years of advocacy from civil society and affected communities around the world.
Our Manifesto continues:
“The challenge for the future therefore is to contribute to a process in which people come to refuse the human costs of the capitalist mode of production, believe ‘another world is possible’ and devise non-violent means to bring it into being. It will involve mobilising our potential as employees, consumers and users to find ways to reject and resist existing economic relations and practices, to invent new forms of control on extraction of value, to disaggregate ownership, reverse the tendency to commodification, extend collective and public enterprise, and equalise distribution and consumption – with special regard to peoples’ land rights and food sovereignty.”
The elaboration of this treaty will not be a magic answer, but will definitely be part of this process to refuse the human cost of the capitalist mode of production.
WILPF will thus actively engage in the negotiations to ensure the establishment of a strict framework through which transnational companies will no longer be able to put profit before people. We want to make sure prevention of conflict and the voices of women are included in the future treaty. We need a treaty that addresses the linkages between practices such as land grabbing and conflict.
Be part of the action!
We have created different online petitions for the governments of Germany, Italy, France, Spain, UK and the U.S.A to engage in this process and limit the activities of transnational companies. Sign the petitions now. If you would like to add a petition for another country please contact us.
The challenge for the future treaty is therefore to “imagine a creative work of solidarity across hemispheres, national borders, cultural groups, localities, classes and genders that is unprecedented. But without it peace will never be within our reach.”