On Monday, representatives from states across the world will gather in Geneva for the week-long first session of the intergovernmental working group (IGWG) towards a Treaty on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and other business enterprises with regards to human rights. This will be the start of a series of negotiations that could lead to a legally binding treaty framing the work of transnational companies and finally making them unable to violate human rights with impunity. We are going to be there to make sure this happens.
What WILPF is doing
WILPF is part of the Treaty Alliance, an alliance of a large number of organisations and networks working to end abuses committed by transnational companies, and next week we will mobilise our efforts to call on governments to support the Treaty. Getting a treaty in place is a long process, but the sooner we can get states on board, the sooner we can hold transnational corporations accountable for the crimes they commit. Land grabbing, suppression of protests, environmental degradation, collapsing factories, inhumane working conditions, and poisonous chemicals entering the food chain need to be a thing of the past, and a clear and effective justice mechanism needs to be established for the people whose rights have been violated.
We will be co-organising two side events at the United Nations on 6 and 7 July. The first one will focus on the impact of transnational corporations and other businesses on grassroots communities, and the second one will discuss the need for international regulation from the perspective of social movements. These events will give us the opportunity to highlight these issues and open a discussion between state representatives and civil society on what steps different stakeholders need to take.
A key issue in WILPF’s work
The need to address the abuses committed by transnational corporations has been a growing concern within WILPF. At our Congress in April, we adopted a resolution expressing our deep concerns with corporations like Monsanto violating the human right to health and safe food through their use of dangerous chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
We are also worried about the role that practices such as land-grabbing have in creating and maintaining conflicts. We must ask ourselves who benefits from the displacement of the original land owners, and who benefits from the militarisation of the region in question.
In the WILPF 2015 Manifesto, which was also adopted at Congress in April, we further state:
“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.”
How you can be part of the action
Sign our petition! Many countries, in particular within the EU, have diametrically opposed being part of this process and have threatened not to attend the meetings. In light of the upcoming week, we have therefore created petitions calling on the governments of the UK, the US, Italy, France, Germany and Spain to take positive action. Read our last blog on this topic to learn more.
You can also follow next week’s events on the Treaty Alliance’s website, where blog posts will be published daily in English, French and Spanish. Use the hashtag #StopCorporateAbuse to participate in the debate!