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Discussion on Guidelines for Sustainable Digitalization — Get involved

susdigiThe new online platform "Sustainable Digitalization" by the German NGO Forum for Environment and Development is providing space for the discussion on sustainable digitalization. Shaping digitalization is one of the burning issues of our time, not just concerning technology but on a socio-economic level as well. Important first steps have been made to discuss the role of technology and the digital world for social change and human development. Technologies can be part of social progress. But the past has shown that without regulation, proper discussion on operability or risks and without democratic control, technologies often lead to more or new social problems. If digitalization truly is an element of great social change, it has to be sustainable, fair, relevant to all people and working for the common good. How to achieve this kind of sustainable digitalization needs to urgently be discussed in European and international debates. Do you have suggestions on positions? Disagree or agree with something? Anything missing? Any comments are welcome.

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The EU and the corporate impunity nexus

the_eu_and_corporate_impunity_nexusFor decades, affected communities around the globe have been resisting the modus operandi of transnational corporations (TNCs) in their territories and workplaces. 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 WTO, the structural adjustment policies of the 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. The role of TNCs in the workings of the UN system is becoming increasingly pervasive, especially since the creation of the Global Compact and the corporate-funded UN Foundation and as can clearly be seen in the current round of negotiations on bindings obligations for TNCs at the United Nations. The new report published by Amis de la Terre France, Observatoire des multinationales (OMAL) and CETIM, examines these issues by focusing on corporate capture versus binding regulations; the question whether EU and TNCs unite against the UN Treaty; and a case study of European transnational corporations and human rights.
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The EU’s double agenda on globalisation: Corporate rights vs people’s rights

EUs_double_agendaIn the new report, published by Friends of the Earth, examines EU's double agenda on globalisation regarding corporate rights and human rights. The European Union and its Member States are important actors when it comes to shaping globalisation. This briefing explores the double role the EU plays in these processes: spinning a web of treaties that give corporations extraordinary powers while hindering efforts to hold these very same companies accountable. This double agenda is exemplified by the EU’s actions in two areas: its reluctance to support binding and enforceable rights for citizens through an UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights, and at the same time expanding and entrenching a system of legally binding and enforceable investor rights and privileges that grants corporations power over governments and communities. The new report concludes that given the fundamental flaws of the investor rights system and the strong need for the UN Treaty, it is high time for the EU to review its positions on these issues and start addressing and reversing the inequities globalisation is producing.

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The limitations of the UNCITRAL process on ISDS reform

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Photo: Milo Rottinghuis

"Between October 29th and November 2nd, 2018, the members of the Working Group III of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) are coming together in Vienna to continue with discussions on a possible reform of the investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism. The UNCITRAL process could offer an unique opportunity to thoroughly examine the widely recognised problems with ISDS and to meaningfully address its systemic imbalances. However, the process is, to a large extent, driven by the same institutions and individuals that share a common interest in the long-term survival of the system. The UNCITRAL process thus runs a real risk of producing middle-ground solutions that will fail to address the fundamental flaws of the ISDS system and will only further institutionalise and re-legitimise the system. Such an outcome would be most unfortunate, at a time when ISDS is losing political support all over the world, and a growing number of countries is signalling a desire to move away from the current model of treaty-based investment protection.", analyzes Bart-Jaap Verbeek, researcher at the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) in a new blog post.

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Corporate capture in Europe - When big business dominates policy-making and threatens our right

cover-ALTER-EUA new report published by the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) examines the extreme and undue influence of big business on European Union (EU) and member state decision-making processes. It has been produced as a response to the distortions we witness in policy and law making at EU-level and across member states. It shows how corporate capture has been behind the lack of action in the aftermath of the financial crisis, with banking regulation that continues to allow mega-mergers of banks, failing to tackle the “too big to fail” problem. Similarly, the arms industry has influenced the agenda and objectives of the EU’s defence programs.

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Statement of the "Treaty Alliance Germany" on the draft for a legally binding UN Treaty on Business and Human Rights (»Zero Draft«)

TreatyAlliance_2ndStatement_image_jpgThe Treaty Alliance Germany, an association of more than 20 German non-governmental organisations, has published a new statement. The Treaty Alliance Germany welcomes the draft for a UN Human Rights Treaty to regulate transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights ("Zero Draft"). The chairmanship of the intergovernmental working group has thus created an important basis for the negotiations during the forthcoming fourth working session from 15 to 19 October 2018 in Geneva. Members of the Treaty Alliance Germany attend the 4th session and have delivered an oral statement, expressing their dissatisfaction of the fact that after three working sessions and three months after the publication of the Zero Draft, the EU and its member states are still not willing to enter discussions on the content of the treaty.This is not in line with the EU’s self-conception that human rights are core values that the EU promotes around the world. It is also not in line with Germany’s foreign policy, which regards human rights as the basic tenet.

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Philanthrocapitalism in global health and nutrition: analysis and implications

Philantrocapitalism_DiscussionPaper_10-2018Over the last two decades, the philanthropic sector has grown in terms of the number of foundations, the size of their annual giving, and the scope of their activities. Spending concentrates on certain selected areas, especially health, education, and nutrition. Civil society organizations, scientists, and the media have finally started to devote more attention and research to the growing influence of philanthropic foundations in global development, in particular with regard to the influential members of philanthrocapitalism. Through their grant-making, personal networking and active advocacy, large global foundations play an overwhelmingly active role in shaping the global development agenda and in setting the funding priorities for international institutions and national governments alike. A new discussion paper by Nicoletta Dentico and Karolin Seitz presents major areas of concern in particular with regard to the arena of global health and nutrition and formulates recommendations to political decision-makers.

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Pressemitteilung: „So geht Nachhaltigkeit!“

Cover_So_geht_Nachhaltigkeit_online_kleinDurch den Bericht „So geht Nachhaltigkeit! Deutschland und die globale Nachhaltigkeits-Agenda 2018“ werden die Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung greifbar und konkret heruntergebrochen. Der Band dokumentiert beispielsweise, wie junge Menschen in Deutschland aus der Armut geholt werden, wie sich ein „Volksentscheid Fahrrad“ erfolgreich durchgesetzt hat, wie durch das Modell der Gemeindekrankenpfleger_innen auch Leben im globalen Süden gerettet werden kann, wie nachhaltig praktische Nachbarschaftshilfe wirkt, wie Strom, Wasser und Wohnungen durch öffentliche und genossenschaftliche Erzeugung bezahlbar für alle bleibt, welche Wirkung „Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung“ auf die jüngere Generation haben kann, wie Recht und Gesetz das Klima schützen und welche kreativen Protest- und Widerstandsformen es gibt.

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Public Event: Changing Course for Sustainable Development

Flyer_-_FES-UNRISD_-_Launch_Spotlight_Report_2018“The world is off-track in terms of achieving sustainable development and fundamental policy changes are necessary to unleash the transformative potential of the SDGs.” This is the main message of the Spotlight Report 2018. At this event, co-organized by UNRISD and FES, some of the key findings and recommendations of this year’s global Spotlight Report will be presented and discussed from various perspectives.

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Briefing: Das HLPF 2018

GPF-Briefing_0818_HLPF_klVom 9. bis 18. Juli 2018 tagte in New York das Hochrangige Politische Forum (HLPF) der Vereinten Nationen. Es ist das zentrale UN-Gremium für nachhaltige Entwicklung und soll hauptsächlich die Umsetzung der Agenda 2030 und ihrer globalen Nachhaltigkeitsziele (SDGs) überwachen. Das HLPF ist ein zwischenstaatliches Forum, an dem alle 193 Mitgliedsstaaten der Vereinten Nationen teilnehmen können. Zusätzlich haben Vertreter/innen gesellschaftlicher Gruppen und Organisationen weitgehende Beteiligungsmöglichkeiten. Das Forum hat allerdings weder konkrete Entscheidungskompetenzen noch eine direkte Koordinationsfunktion gegenüber Regierungen und UN-Organisationen. Es dient in erster Linie dem Erfahrungsaustausch über Strategien zur Umsetzung der Agenda 2030, der Präsentation nationaler (Erfolgs-)Stories und der Analyse von Hindernissen und Rückschritten bei der Verwirklichung der SDGs. Jens Martens analysiert die Ergebnisse des HLPF 2018.

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Advancing international cooperation in the service of victims of human rights violations in the context of business activities

PB55_Advancing-international-cooperation-in-the-service-of-victims-of-human-rights-violations-in-the-context-of-business-activities_ENA zero draft of a legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises, is the subject of discussions in an inter-governmental open ended working group under the auspices of the Human Rights Council (15-19 October 2018). The draft aims at harnessing international cooperation among home and host states of business enterprises in order to address barriers to get remedies for victims of human rights violations in the context of business activities of transnational character. The new policy brief by the South Centre discusses the approach to States’ role and obligations as proposed under the zero draft.

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ENNHRI Statement: Supporting a binding treaty for businesses and human rights

ennhri_statement_on_zero_draftThe European Network on National human rights institutions (ENNHRI) published a Statement on the Occasion of the 4th session of the Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG). ENNHRI states that "a binding treaty could make a significant contribution to addressing current governance gaps and strengthening prevention of business-related human rights abuses while also improving access to remedy for victims of such abuses, wherever they are." The National Human Rights Institutions believe a business and human rights treaty building on the UNGP’s three pillars should and can be complementary to the UNGPs. ENNHRI regrets, however, that despite positive developments and despite the growing awareness by businesses of their contribution to sustainable development, there remains insufficient progress on the part of European businesses in implementing human rights due diligence. ENNHRI also expresses concern about the continuing adverse impacts of businesses on human rights, both within and outside of Europe. Therefore, ENNHRI is convinced that there is still a great need for further efforts, including through legally binding instruments, in this area.

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UN report shows inadequate implementation of economic, social and cultural rights by Germany

List-of-Issues-FMR-GERMANY_TERRITORIAL_FINAL1The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights published its concluding observations on the sixth Periodic Report of Germany on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on October 12, 2018. In this report, the Committee especially criticizes the "voluntary nature of of the corporate due diligence obligations set out in the NAP regarding respect for human rights and the lack of monitoring mechanisms in this regard". It recommends that the State party has to "ensure the effective implementation of the NAP by all stakeholders, through a comprehensive and transparent monitoring process [...] (and) adopt a regulatory framework that ensures that all companies domiciled in the State party or under its jurisdiction identify, prevent, and address human rights abuses in their operations in not only Germany but also abroad and that they can be liable for violations". Further, Forum Menschenrechte (FMR), a network of more than 50 German NGOs, has submitted a list of issues on territorial obligations in response to he 6th Periodic Report of the Federal German Government on the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). FMR's list of issues on territorial obligations include 24 different problem areas resulting from the implementation of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Germany. The observations by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the list contributed by FMR once again show that Germany's voluntary measures do not tackle the problem of human rights violation and are not yet extensive enough.

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When Food Becomes Immaterial - Confronting the Digital Age

nutritionOver the past few decades, public goods, such as water, education and health – the pillars of human rights – have increasingly been transformed into tradable commodities. Food, of course, has been traded for centuries, yet the recent failure in market regulation has led to its full commodification. As a result, it has contributed to the dispossession of productive resources. This affects peasant communities, damages the environment and changes our diets for the worse. The weak market regulatory framework has generated an ever-increasing gap between what is considered legal and what is actually sustainable and coherent with human rights. This year's 'Right to Food and Nutrition Watch' published by Global Network for the Right to Food and Nutrition explores the impacts of dematerialization, digitalization and financialization on our food systems. It discusses how these processes are altering the conception of the food market, and how food consumption habits within urban centers and beyond are being affected. It explores how targets of political action are shifting in the pursuit of food sovereignty, and interrogates how the fulfillment of the human right to adequate food and nutrition will be addressed.
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Workshops: Mehr Partizipation? Gestärkter Multilateralismus?

Workshops_HLPF_Zivilgesellschaft_Agenda_2030_-_Einladung_und_ProgrammkUm den globalen Umwelt- und Entwicklungsproblemen unter dem Dach der Vereinten Nationen besser begegnen zu können, haben die Regierungen das Hochrangige Politische Forum für nachhaltige Entwicklung (High-Level Political Forum, HLPF) gegründet. Es ist das zentrale UN-Gremium für nachhaltige Entwicklung und soll hauptsächlich die Umsetzung der Agenda 2030 und ihrer globalen Nachhaltigkeitsziele (Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs) überwachen. Im September 2019 tagt das Forum erstmals als globaler Nachhaltigkeitsgipfel auf Ebene der Staats- und Regierungschefs. Außerdem steht ein erster „Review“ seiner Arbeit an. 

Eine wachsende Zahl zivilgesellschaftlicher Organisationen nutzt die Agenda 2030 und die SDGs als Referenzrahmen und ist aktiv daran beteiligt, sie in der Öffentlichkeit bekannter zu machen und von der Politik ihre Verwirklichung einzufordern. Von der kommunalen bis zur globalen Ebene haben sich dabei neue Netzwerke und Allianzen gebildet. Kann der Umsetzungsprozess der Agenda 2030 zur Stärkung fortschrittlicher zivilgesellschaftlicher Organisationen und der dauerhaften Bildung neuer gesellschaftlicher Bündnisse führen? Hat sich durch die Agenda 2030 die Rolle zivilgesellschaftlicher Organisationen in den Konsultationen der Vereinten Nationen verändert? Wie sehen ihre praktischen Mitwirkungsmöglichkeiten aus?

Diese und weitere Fragen sollen bei zwei Workshops am 14. und 15. November in Bonn mit Ihnen diskutieren.

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EU civil society call on the EU to substantively contribute to the treaty negotiations

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Today civil society groups from the EU member states have gathered at the UN in Geneva to support the Intergovernmental Working Group tasked with developing a binding instrument to ensure that businesses respect human rights. Last year valuable time and energy was wasted by attempts to hold up the process.We look forward to being able to get to grips with the real challenges, in the light of the very real dangers that communities, workers, activists and human rights defenders face now if they challenge business interests. In a joint letter, EU civil society organisations call on the EU to contribute substantively to the negotiations on the Zero Draft Treaty on Business and Human Rights.





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Stellungnahme der Treaty Alliance Deutschland zum "Zero Draft"

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Vom 15. bis 19. Oktober 2018 tagt die zwischenstaatliche Arbeitsgruppe zur Erarbeitung eines verbindlichen Abkommens zur Einhaltung der Menschenrechte durch Unternehmen zum vierten Mal im UN-Menschenrechtsrat in Genf. Sie berät über den Entwurf für ein solches Abkommen, den der ecuadorianische Vorsitz im Juli vorgelegt hatte. In ihrer neuen Stellungnahme begrüßt die Treaty Alliance Deutschland, ein Zusammenschluss von zwanzig zivilgesellschaftlichen Organisationen, den "Zero Draft" und empfiehlt gleichzeitig Präzisierungen und Ergänzungen des vorliegenden Entwurfs.

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Pressekonferenz: So geht Nachhaltigkeit!

Cover_So_geht_Nachhaltigkeit_online_kleinMit den Zielen für nachhaltige Entwicklung (SDGs) haben die Regierungen den neuen Rahmen für die globale Nachhaltigkeitspolitik der kommenden zwölf Jahre abgesteckt. Im SDG-Report 2018 finden Sie eine Bandbreite an Vorzeige-Aktivitäten, wie wir uns in Deutschland sozial gerechter und ökologisch sauber organisieren können. Für Journalisten bietet der diesjährige Bericht eine Fülle an Hintergründen für die bundespolitische Berichterstattung genauso wie an Geschichten, was alles auf lokaler und regionaler Ebene läuft. In 17 Beispielen wird gezeigt, was zivilgesellschaftliche Organisationen und Initiativen alles für Nachhaltigkeit und Menschenrechtsschutz leisten, obwohl sie politisch häufig nicht unterstützt werden. Auf diese Weise wird die Agenda 2030 greifbar und konkret heruntergebrochen.

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Lunch Briefing: WHO sets the Global Health agenda?

WHO_sets_lunch_briefing_coverTo coincide with the World Health Summit and the Grand Challenges Conference of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Berlin, Global Policy Forum, Brot fuer die Welt, medico international, and MISEREOR invite you to discuss the benefits, risks and side-effects of the WHO’s engagement with philanthropic foundations, and reflect on how the WHO can be strengthened in order to fulfill its responsibilities. Speakers will include representatives from the German Ministry of Health, the WHO (tbc) and international civil society.

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Konferenz: Mehr Mut zu Multilateralismus

Logos_Mehr_Mut_zu_Multilateralismus_2018_kleinVor dem Hintergrund eines schwierigen multilateralen Umfelds ist die Bundesregierung bereit, mehr globale Verantwortung zu übernehmen. Laut Koalitionsvertrag sei es die „überragende“ Aufgabe deutscher Politik „auf Regeln basierende internationale Kooperationen, Institutionen und Organisationen [...] zu stärken und weiterzuentwickeln. Unser Ziel ist eine gerechte Gestaltung der Globalisierung im Sinne der Agenda 2030“ für nachhaltige Entwicklung. Die Eröffnung der 73. Generalversammlung der Vereinten Nationen nehmen wir zum Anlass, mit Vertreterinnen und Vertretern von Regierung, Bundestag, Wissenschaft und Zivilgesellschaft darüber zu diskutieren, wie die Bundesregierung ihrem selbstformulierten Anspruch gerecht werden kann, solidarisch, multilateral und partnerschaftlich zu handeln. Schlaglichtartig werden wir zentrale Politikfelder analysieren und erörtern, inwiefern deutsche Politik zur Erarbeitung und Umsetzung multilateraler Abkommen und Lösungsansätze beiträgt bzw. diese erschwert oder gar verhindert. Zu diesem spannenden Austausch laden wir Sie herzlich ein.

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