Global Policy Forum

Further Reading: Corporate Influence

Further Reading: Corporate Influence on Global Governance

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This section provides recent reports and articles, by civil society organizations and news sources, on the activites of private sector actors in the UN and other global governance settings.

2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010

2018

Briefing

February 8, 2018

In 2014, following a resolution initiated by Ecuador and South Africa, the Human Rights Council of the United Nations decided by a majority vote for the establishment of a process to create a human rights treaty to regulate business activity. In 2015 and 2016 the first two sessions of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG) took place, and between October 23 and 27, 2017 the working group convened for the third time. More than 100 states and 200 representatives of civil society organizations participated in the third session, during which draft elements for a treaty presented by the Chair-Rapporteur of the OEIGWG were discussed. The draft elements include suggestions on state obligations, prevention, effective remedy, jurisdiction, international co-operation, and enforcement mechanisms. Despite persistent efforts by certain states to block the process, the march towards a binding treaty will continue. The Chair-Rapporteur will now hold informal consultations on the way forward and prospectively prepare a zero draft of the treaty up to the fourth session (expected in October 2018). Governments and other actors can hand in comments on the draft elements up to the end of February 2018 (Global Policy Forum/RLS-NYC).

Justice for People and Planet

Report

January 15, 2018

The new report by Greenpeace “Justice for People and Planet” demonstrates the need for urgent action to establish justice for people and planet and to end corporate capture, collusion and impunity. Through 20 case studies this report presents how corporate power has been used to repeatedly abuse and violate human and environmental rights. The cases show that corporate impunity for environmental destruction and human rights violations is a result of the current economic and legal system. State failure to protect human rights and the environment is caused by corporate capture of decision makers and state institutions, leading to the consequent refusal of politicians to implement binding frameworks and hold corporations to account. The clear failure of voluntary codes and corporate self-regulation to safeguard human rights or the environment has led to renewed public demand for binding rules. Greenpeace calls on governments to adopt 10 Principles for Corporate Accountability (Greenpeace).

Market discourse has captured the development agenda to a point that may be incompatible with UN mandates

Interview

January 15, 2018

CIVICUS speaks with Barbara Adams, senior policy analyst at the Global Policy Forum about the United Nations' turn to the the corporate sector. Adams explains that a trend for multi-stakeholder partnerships can be observed. This has been reinforced by the 2030 Agenda, and the push for its implementation and achievement of the SDGs. The accompanying policy influence, programme distortions, undermining of the 2030 Agenda and ability to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals have, however, not been adequately addressed (CIVICUS/Global Policy Forum).

Neues Bündnis gegen Marktmacht der Megakonzerne

Statement

January 9, 2018

Wichtige Märkte sind in den Händen von immer weniger Mega-Konzernen. Dagegen stellt sich anlässlich des 60. Geburtstags des Bundeskartellamtes ein breites Bündnis von 24 Umwelt-, Landwirtschafts-, und Entwicklungsorganisationen, darunter auch das Global Policy Forum. Unsere Forderung an die nächste Bundesregierung: Das Kartellrecht verschärfen, um die Marktmacht von Konzernen zu begrenzen. Die Marktkonzentration ist mittlerweile so weit fortgeschritten, dass sie kleinere Unternehmen stark benachteiligt. Zulieferer, Bauern und Bäuerinnen und Arbeiter/innen in Produktionsländern können sich gegen übermächtige Unternehmen kaum durchsetzen. Letztlich wird so die soziale Ungleichheit verschärft (Global Policy Forum et al.).

2017

Article

November 11, 2017

It is no secret that a dual relationship exists between climate change and sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which governments agreed in September 2015, recognizes that climate change is “one of the greatest challenges of our time” and voices concern about “its adverse impacts undermine the ability of all countries to achieve sustainable development.” In order to ensure that the implementation of the Paris Agreement truly helps foster more just and sustainable development, governments have to respect Human Rights, question the partnership and multi-stakeholder approach, reclaim policies for the public and strengthen participatory and democratic governance structures, and tackle vertical and horizontal inequalities in and between countries (Global Policy Forum).

New Position Paper: Toward global Regulation on Human Rights and Business

Position Paper

October 25, 2017

Trade and investment protection agreements facilitate business enterprises’ access to markets and raw materials, and protect investor interests with enforceable rights. Although human rights are a cornerstone of international law, so far there are only voluntary guidelines to safeguard them within the activities of global enterprises. This needs to change; human rights need a mandatory commitment. This is where the “UN treaty process” comes in. It offers the chance for binding international regulation of global business: Since 2015, an intergovernmental working group has been negotiating an international human rights treaty that is binding for the contractual parties, outlines clear rules for business enterprises and strengthens access to justice for affected parties. The Treaty Alliance Germany - a coalition of organizations supporting such an approach - have formulated demands in a new position paper (Global Policy Forum et al.).

Bündniszeitung zum UN-Treaty zu Wirtschaft und Menschenrechte

Bündniszeitung

October 16, 2017

Wenn Handels- und Investitionsabkommen mit Menschenrechten in Konflikt geraten, ziehen Letztere meist den Kürzeren. Ein UN-Menschenrechtsabkommen zu transnationalen Konzernen und anderen Unternehmen (UN-Treaty) böte die Chance, den Vorrang von Menschenrechten im Völkerrecht festzuschreiben. Ein Bündnis zivilgesellschaftlicher Organisationen hat nun eine Bündniszeitung als taz-Beilage veröffentlicht. Die Autorinnen und Autoren beschäftigen sich in ihren Artikeln mit den folgenden Fragen: Welche Lehren können aus den Debatten um TTIP mit Blick auf den UN-Treaty-Prozess gezogen werden? Warum ist staatliche Regulierung notwendig, um Sklavenarbeit zu unterbinden? Welche Rechtslücken bestehen in Deutschland? Warum werden Agrarkonzerne und Investoren bislang nicht für Landraub zur Rechenschaft gezogen? Warum reicht es nicht, die „Macht der KonsumentInnen“ zu beschwören? Wie müssen Arbeitsinspektionen ausgestaltet sein, um ArbeitnehmerInnenrechte global wirksam durchzusetzen? Ein Artikel von GPF zeigt auf, wie Wirtschaftsverbände gegen verbindliche Regelungen auf internationaler Ebene vorgehen (Global Policy Forum et al.).

European NGOs call on the EU and its Member States to constructively support the negotiations around a binding treaty on business and human rights

Statement

October 10, 2017

45 European NGOs welcome the publication of the elements for a binding treaty on business and human rights which were prepared by the Chair-Rapporteur of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights on October 2nd, 2017. They urge the European Union, and its Member States individually, to use this historic opportunity to support the UN treaty and show that Europe can be a champion on multilateralism and human rights and business. The organisations call on their governments and the EU to prepare in a constructive and open spirit the European participation in the IGWG session and to discuss the draft elements with European civil society at national level and in Brussels (Global Policy Forum et al.).

More than 300 civil society organization from around the world have signed on to a letter regarding the ongoing negotiations of the WTO towards its 11th Ministerial meeting (MC11) in Buenos Aires from December 10 to 13, 2017. The organizations express increasing concern about press reports indicating that some WTO member are pushing a dangerous and inappropriate new agenda under the disgues of "e-commerce", even though there had been no consensus to introduce the issue during or since the Nairobi Ministerial of 2016. The letter also raises concerns and questions on proposals to limit the scope and effects of public interest regulation, around fishery subsidy disciplines that discourage overfishing by rich countries, agricultural rules and more (Our world is not for sale).

Geplantes UN-Abkommen zu Wirtschaft und Menschenrechten: Vertragsentwurf ist gute Verhandlungsgrundlage

Artikel

October 10, 2017

Vom 23. bis 27. Oktober findet im UN-Menschenrechtsrat in Genf die dritte Verhandlungsrunde zur Erarbeitung eines internationalen Abkommens („UN-Treaty“) zur Haftung von Unternehmen bei Menschenrechtsverletzungen statt. Die Sitzungsleitung hat nun erstmals konkrete Vorschläge zur Ausgestaltung des Vertrags vorgelegt. 15 deutsche Entwicklungs-, Umwelt- und Menschenrechtsorganisationen der „Treaty Alliance Deutschland“ begrüßen den Text als gute Verhandlungsgrundlage und fordern die Bundesregierung auf, sich konstruktiv an den anstehenden Verhandlungen zu beteiligen. In einem gemeinsamen Positionspapier legen die Organisationen ihre konkreten Vorschläge zur Ausgestaltung des Abkommens vor (Global Policy Forum et al.).

Public-Private Partnerships: Defusing the ticking time bomb

Briefing

October 10, 2017

A new briefing from Eurodad reveals how the increased promotion of public-private partnerships (PPPs) by the World Bank and others is having a disastrous impact on both developed and developing countries. From the hospital in Lesotho which has swallowed up a quarter of the country's health budget, to the motorways which nearly bankrupted the Portuguese government - we expose how PPPs are enriching the already wealthy whilst ripping off citizens (Eurodad).

A 10-point roadmap for Europe on the role of the private sector in development

Report

October 10, 2017

European governments and the European Commission have been increasingly supporting a greater role for the private sector in their development cooperation. With new EU policies and instruments such as the European External Investment Plan, it was deemed important for CONCORD members to agree on a common position, common messages and priorities regarding the role of the private sector in contributing to sustainable development. To write this paper, CONCORD Europe's specific work stream on the private sector collaborated with all of CONCORD's membership, but also with other civil society organisations and CSO confederations (CONCORD).

Neues Positionspapier der Treaty Alliance Deutschland

Positionspapier

September 15, 2017

Seit Juni 2014 arbeitet eine Arbeitsgruppe des UN-Menschenrechtsrats an einem verbindlichen UN-Abkommen, mit dem die Staatengemeinschaft die Aktivitäten von Unternehmen mit Blick auf die Achtung der Menschenrechte regulieren soll. Das Abkommen (UN-Treaty) soll den Schutz betroffener Individuen und Gemeinschaften vor Menschenrechtsverstößen durch Unternehmen verbessern und ihnen Zugang zu Rechtsmitteln ermöglichen. Vom 23. bis 27. Oktober 2017 wird die Arbeitsgruppe zum Abkommen zum dritten Mal in Genf tagen. Die Verhandlungsleitung durch Ecuador wird bis dahin einen Vorschlag für Elemente des zukünftigen Abkommens vorlegen. In einem breiten Bündnis deutscher Nichtregierungsorganisationen, der Treaty Alliance Deutschland, hat das Global Policy Forum ein Positionspapier zum UN-Treaty-Prozess erstellt. Darin fordert es die Bundesregierung an einer konstruktiven Mitarbeit in dem Prozess auf und stellt Elemente vor, die ein zukünftiges Abkommen enthalten sollte (Global Policy Forum et al.).

The contributions to this special issue of the Global Policy Journal highlight critical issues in the study of Resourcing International Organizations (IOs), including resource diversification, the complexity of related actor constellations, and organizational differentiation that goes hand in hand with resource diversification. The findings documented in the contributions reveal how IOs seek to obtain and allocate funds, and how resourcing-related concerns pervade their organizations. It also illustrates the value-added of an approach to the study of IOs that hones in on their administrations, their capacity for strategic action and their inter-connectedness, in short, an ‘administrative governance perspective’. The central message is that IO resourcing matters both practically and analytically. Global Policy Forum contributed to this special issue an article on Private Funding and Corporate Influence in the United Nations (Global Policy).

Living and Working Conditions in Marikana Five Years After the Massacre

Study

August 31, 2017

Like in Marikana, miners and communities living near mines are often confronted with severe human rights problems ranging from labour rights violations, land evictions, water and air pollution, lack of consultation and the violent shut down of protest through police and public or private security forces. Mining companies take advantage of low or inadequately enforced labour, social and environmental standards. Bench Marks Foundation has been documenting these sorts of abuses in the mining industry in South Africa and other African Countries for many years. The new publication “Platinum for the World Market, Iron Shacks for the Workers” by Brot für die Welt and Bench Marks Foundation looks at the situation in Marikana five years after the massacre of 34 workers in 2012. It illustrates that Lonmin and BASF are still far off from living up to national and international standards on responsible business conduct. The case is emblematic for the global mining industry and shows that corporate social responsibility is failing (Brot für die Welt, Bench Marks Foundation).

Neues Briefing: Die G20 und die Agenda 2030

Briefing

July 20, 2017

Am 7. und 8. Juli 2017 fand in Hamburg das Gipfeltreffen der G20, der Gruppe der 20 führenden Industrie- und Schwellenländer, statt. In der medialen Wahrnehmung war der Gipfel geprägt vom Auftritt des US-Präsidenten und den Konflikten in der Klima- und Handelspolitik. Andere Themen, darunter auch die Aktivitäten der G20 zur Umsetzung der Agenda 2030, traten demgegenüber in den Hintergrund. Beobachter/innen aus Wissenschaft und Zivilgesellschaft kritisieren insbesondere die unbeirrte Wachstumsgläubigkeit, von der die Gipfeldokumente geprägt sind, und den einseitigen Fokus auf private Investitionen zur Entwicklungsfinanzierung, beispielsweise im Rahmen der sogenannten „G20-Afrika-Partnerschaft“. Tatsächlich steht diese Schwerpunktsetzung im Kontrast zu den umfassenderen Ansätzen nachhaltiger Entwicklung, auf denen die Agenda 2030 der Vereinten Nationen beruht (Global Policy Forum).

Civil society groups reclaim policies for the public

Report

July 10, 2017

A global coalition of civil society organizations and trade unions presents today the report Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2017. It is published on the opening day of the High Level Political Forum at the United Nations in New York. The report provides the most comprehensive independent assessment of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (Global Policy Forum et al.).

Support a Treaty on Business & Human Rights: Sign the new Statement of the Treaty Alliance!

Letter

June 30, 2017

All too often we hear about big transnational companies (TNCs) that violate human rights and about their victims lacking access to justice in their own countries. Most of the time, these crimes remain unpunished. But what if a UN Treaty on business and human rights would address this system of impunity and enable us to hold companies to account? Global Policy Forum and some European NGOs are supporting the call by the Treaty Alliance, a coalition of over hundreds of NGOs pushing for the UN treaty, to all states to constructively and proactively engage in the negotiations of the treaty. Please support this call and sign the new statement of the Treaty Alliance (Treaty Alliance).

Vor welchen Herausforderungen steht die WHO? Wie kann Deutschland sie stärken?

Study

May 23, 2017

Als demokratisch legitimierte Sonderorganisation der UN hat sie das Mandat, weltweit Normen und Standards für Gesundheit zu setzen. Doch die WHO steckt in der Krise, weil sie durch ihre Mitgliedsstaaten nicht ausreichend finanziert wird. Der finanzielle Beitrag Deutschlands zur WHO ist bisher vergleichsweise gering und spiegelt nicht die hohe Priorität wider, die dem Thema jetzt im Rahmen der deutschen G20-Präsidentschaft eingeräumt wird. Die Studie „Quo vadis, WHO?“ von Brot für die Welt untersucht, welche Rolle die WHO in der globalen Gesundheitspolitik spielt. Sie geht der Frage nach, was die Bundesregierung tun sollte, um die WHO zu stärken, damit diese ihr Mandat wahrnehmen und unabhängig und durchsetzungsstark agieren kann (Brot für die Welt).

U.S. Philanthrocapitalism and the Global Health Agenda: The Rockefeller and Gates Foundations, Past and Present

Article

May 16, 2017

The Rockefeller Foundation and more recently the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have become influential agenda-setters in the global health and nutrition arena. How and why have U.S. mega-philanthropies played such an important role in producing and shaping knowledge, organizations, and strategies to address health issues worldwide? What are the implications for global health and its governance? Anne-Emmanuelle Birn and Judith Richter published a comprehensive article comparing and contrasting the goals, modus operandi, and agenda setting roles of both foundations. The authors conclude that the Gates Foundation’s venture-philanthropy approach underpins and is emblematic of the business models that now penetrate the global public health field. These conditions have resulted in extensive private, for-profit influence over global health activities and have blurred boundaries between public and private spheres, representing a grave threat to democratic global health governance and scientific independence (Birn & Richter).

Partnerschaften mit Risiken: Über die Chancen, Gefahren und Nebenwirkungen von Multi-Akteur-Partnerschaften für nachhaltige Entwicklung

Briefing

May 8, 2017

Multi-Akteur-Partnerschaften nehmen eine Schlüsselrolle bei der Umsetzung der 2030-Agenda und der Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung (SDGs) ein. Neben den Chancen, die solche globalen Partnerschaften für nachhaltige Entwicklungsprozesse bieten können, existieren auch eine Reihe von Risiken. Ein gemeinsames Dossier von Brot für die Welt, Global Policy Forum, Misereor und welt-sichten nimmt daher verschiedene Formen des derzeit herrschenden Partnerschaftstrends kritisch unter die Lupe. Die Beiträge befassen sich mit einigen der großen globalen Partnerschaften im Bereich Ernährungssicherheit, Erneuerbare Energien und Datenverfügbarkeit. Auch eine einzelne Partnerschaft zur Verbesserung des Zugangs zu Medikamenten, die Zusammenarbeit zwischen der Bundesregierung und der privaten Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation sowie eine öffentlich-private Partnerschaft zwischen der mexikanischen Regierung und Nestlé werden auf ihre Chancen und Risiken untersucht (Global Policy Forum).

Inside Job: Big Polluters' lobbyists on the inside at the UNFCCC

Report

May 8, 2017

Corporate Accountability International released a new report “Inside Job: Big Polluters’ lobbyists on the inside at the UNFCCC,” exposing the dirty fossil fuel trade associations that are stalking the halls of the U.N. climate talks to undermine, weaken, and block progress. The report peels back the curtain on just six of the more than 270 Business/Industry NGOs non-governmental organizations (BINGOs) currently admitted to the climate talks: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Mining Association, Business Roundtable, FuelsEurope, Business Council of Australia, and International Chamber of Commerce (Corporate Accountability International).

ExxonMobil and SaudiAramco to write intergovernmental report on impacts of global warming

Letter

April 27, 2017

108 national and international environmental organizations sent a letter to the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), to raise their concerns about the selection of authors for the special report on the impacts of global warming, which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will present next year. One of the selected authors (proposed by the US government) works for ExxonMobil, another for the Saudi oil company SaudiAramco. The signatories criticize that this selection does not correspond to the internal policy of the IPCC. It would actually constitute a violation of IPCC’s own conflict of interest policy (Civil Society Organizations).

Ensuring the Primacy of Human Rights in Trade and Investment Policies

Study

April 25, 2017

CIDSE and its members launch a new study by Dr. Markus Krajewski, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg, entitled “Ensuring the Primacy of Human Rights in Trade and Investment Policies: Model clauses for a UN Treaty on transnational corporations, other businesses and human rights.” The study seeks to contribute to the debate of how a treaty on businesses and human rights might address the potential conflict between trade and investment policies and human rights in the context of the UN treaty process. It recalls the main areas of potential conflict between trade and investment policies and human rights, in particular trade and investment agreements. The study explains how some of these conflicts could be addressed in reformed trade and investment agreements. As such reforms would not be sufficient, the final part of the study develops and explains model clauses addressing investment and trade policies which could be included in a treaty on businesses and human rights (CIDSE et al.).

Neues Briefing: Die Wirtschaftslobby und die G20

Briefing

March 28, 2017

Die G20, die Gruppe der 20 führenden Industrie- und Schwellenländer, hat sich seit ihrem ersten Gipfel 2008 zu einem der wichtigsten Foren globaler Wirtschafts- und Finanzpolitik entwickelt. Mit ihrem Gipfeltreffen in Hamburg am 7. und 8. Juli ist ihr in diesem Jahr in Deutschland besondere Aufmerksamkeit sicher. Dabei steht die Gruppe unter erheblichem Legitimationsdruck. Interessenvertreter der Wirtschaft haben in den vergangenen Jahren ein Geflecht von Einflusskanälen rund um die G20 geschaffen. Sie wenden sich gegen eine „Überregulierung“ der Finanzindustrie, fordern die Stärkung von Investorenrechten und plädieren für den flächendeckenden Ausbau öffentlich-privater Partnerschaften (PPPs) – allesamt Maßnahmen, die eine Neuausrichtung der Politik nach ökologischen, sozialen und menschenrechtlichen Kriterien eher behindern als fördern (Global Policy Forum).

Corporate influence on the G20

Study

March 23, 2017

Over the past eight years, the G20 has emerged as one of the most prominent political fora for international cooperation. For transnational corporations and their national and international associations and lobby groups, the G20 process provides important opportunities to engage with the world’s most powerful governments, shape their discourse, and influence their decisions. For this purpose, business actors have created a broad network of alliances and fora around the G20, with the Business20 (B20) as the most visible symbol of corporate engagement. A new working paper published by GPF and Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung maps out the key business players and associations from the different sectors and branches involved in the work of the G20, and analyzes their core messages and policy recommendations. (Global Policy Forum)

Neues Arbeitspapier: Globale Partnerschaften

Study

March 21, 2017

Die 2030-Agenda der Vereinten Nationen und ihre Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung (SDGs) messen Partnerschaften zwischen öffentlichen und privaten Akteuren eine wichtige Rolle bei. Das Spektrum dieser Partnerschaften ist groß. Es reicht von öffentlich-privaten Projektkooperationen zwischen einzelnen Regierungen und Unternehmen bis hin zu globalen Partnerschaften, an denen zum Teil hunderte von Regierungen, internationalen Organisationen, Unternehmen, philanthropischen Stiftungen und zivilgesellschaftlichen Gruppen beteiligt sind. Ein neues Arbeitspapier von GPF gibt einen Überblick über den derzeitigen Partnerschaftsboom und diskutiert die damit einhergehenden Risiken und Nebenwirkungen. Aus den Ergebnissen werden im letzten Teil einige Schlussfolgerungen für Politik und Zivilgesellschaft abgeleitet. (Global Policy Forum)

Neues Briefing: Multi-Akteur-Partnerschaften in der 2030-Agenda

Briefing

March 21, 2017

Partnerschaftsinitiativen zwischen internationalen Organisationen, Regierungen und privaten Akteuren sind in den letzten Jahren wie Pilze aus dem Boden geschossen. Im Umsetzungsprozess der 2030-Agenda werden sie von Vielen als alternativlos angesehen. Dem derzeitigen Boom liegt die Annahme zugrunde, Regierungen seien weder strukturell noch finanziell in der Lage, die globalen Probleme alleine zu bewältigen. Kooperationen, die Wirtschaft und Zivilgesellschaft einschließen, gelten dagegen als pragmatisch, lösungsorientiert, flexibel, effizient und unbürokratisch. (Global Policy Forum)

New Briefing: NAP und Deutsche Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie

Briefing

March 16, 2017

Fast zeitgleich wurden um den Jahreswechsel 2016/2017 zwei wichtige Dokumente im Bundeskabinett verabschiedet, die die Umsetzung von internationalen Vereinbarungen in Deutschland gewährleisten sollen: Mit dem Nationalen Aktionsplan „Wirtschaft und Menschenrechte“ (verabschiedet am 21. Dezember 2016) sollen die Leitprinzipien für Wirtschaft und Menschenrechte der Vereinten Nationen (UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, UNGPs) in nationale Maßnahmen übersetzt werden. Die neue Deutsche Nachhaltigkeitsstrategie wurde am 11. Januar 2017 vorgestellt. Sie soll den Beitrag Deutschlands zur Umsetzung der 2030-Agenda und ihrer 17 Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung (Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs) beschreiben. Beide Dokumente leisten potentiell wichtige Beiträge zu der Frage, wie deutsche Politik im Sinne der Nachhaltigkeitsagenda kohärent gestaltet werden kann. Bislang vollziehen sich die Diskussionen dazu in Politik und Zivilgesellschaft oft getrennt voneinander. Eine bessere Verzahnung der Auseinandersetzungen über „Wirtschaft und Menschenrechte“ und nachhaltige Entwicklung wäre dringend erforderlich. (Global Policy Forum)

The UN development system: Can it catch up to the 2030 Agenda?

Briefing

February 23, 2017

The current model of UN development assistance—operating country by country, and issue by issue, with priorities heavily driven by individual donors and their interests—is no longer fit for its intended purpose. The ambitious vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development challenges the UN development system to fully respond to the inextricable links across countries and among social, economic and environmental concerns. This is not just an issue of greater efficiency and effectiveness within existing arrangements. It is a question of how the UN development system can meet the high demands of new commitments aimed at transforming the course of development so that it is equitable, sustainable and aligned with human rights, and remains within planetary boundaries. (Global Policy Watch)

Neue Publikation: Gestiftete Entwicklung? Kooperation zwischen deutscher Entwicklungspolitik und privaten Stiftungen

Study

January 16, 2017

Weltweit boomt die Gründung von privaten Stiftungen. Angesichts stagnierender öffentlicher Mittel setzen Entwicklungspolitiker ihre Hoffnung auf die Philanthropie. Auch das Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) arbeitet seit einigen Jahren verstärkt mit privaten Stiftungen zusammen. Durch die Kooperation mit der Gates-Stiftung hat diese Form der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit eine neue Dimension erreicht – sowohl in quantitativer, als auch in qualitativer Hinsicht. Um die Zusammenarbeit weiter zu stärken, wollen BMZ und Gates-Stiftung Anfang 2017 ein neues Memorandum of Understanding unterzeichnen. Ein neues GPF-Arbeitspapier nimmt die bestehenden Kooperationen der Bundesregierung mit privaten Stiftungen im Bereich der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit genauer unter die Lupe und diskutiert die Risiken und Nebenwirkungen. (Brot für die Welt/Global Policy Forum/Misereor)

2016

Article

December 21, 2016

Die Bundesregierung hat am 21. Dezember den Nationalen Aktionsplan für Wirtschaft und Menschenrechte (NAP) verabschiedet. VENRO, das Forum Menschenrechte und das CorA-Netzwerk für Unternehmensverantwortung kritisieren die fehlende Verbindlichkeit: Unternehmensverantwortung bleibt für deutsche Unternehmen weiterhin eine freiwillige Angelegenheit. Das Deutsche Institut für Menschenrechte  spricht von einer „zögerlichen Umsetzung". Der politische Wille hätte nicht weiter gereicht. Deutschland setze die UN-Leitprinzipien um, allerdings nur mit kleinen Schritten. Zwei Stellungnahmen zum NAP. (CorA-Netzwerk/Forum Menschenrechte/VENRO)

World’s largest business association gets direct voice in UN decision making

Article

December 20, 2016

In an unprecedented and historic move, the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly recently granted observer status to the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The resolution was submitted by France, Albania, Colombia, the Netherlands and Tunisia and was adopted during the seventy-first session of the General Assembly. The resolution sets out the ICC’s position as observer in the General Assembly from 1 January 2017 on. (Global Policy Forum)

“Morality cannot be legislated, but behaviour can be regulated”

Briefing

December 19, 2016

Am 26. Juni 2014 setzte der Menschenrechtsrat der Vereinten Nationen (UN) auf Initiative Ecuadors und Südafrikas eine Arbeitsgruppe ein, um ein rechtsverbindliches Instrument zu formulieren, mit dem transnationale Konzerne (TNCs) und andere Wirtschaftsunternehmen für Menschenrechtsverstöße zur Verantwortung gezogen werden können. Vom 6.-10. Juli 2015 tagte die Arbeitsgruppe zum ersten Mal. Ein neues GPF-Briefing berichtet über die zweite Tagung, die vom 24.-28. Oktober 2016 statt fand. (Global Policy Forum)

The Corporate Crime Principles: Advancing investigations and prosecutions in human rights cases

Article

December 05, 2016

The Corporate Crimes Principles were developed by a group of eminent legal experts, with the support of ICAR and Amnesty International, to encourage State actors to combat corporate crimes more effectively. They were developed following extensive global consultations with investigators, prosecutors, lawyers and civil society actors. The Principles provide practical guidance on issues such as: case selection, evidence collection, identifying tools, resources and strategies for effectively pursuing such cases, cross-border collaboration, and victims’ access to justice and witness protection.(Amnesty International/International Corporate Accountability Roundtable)

New analysis: Big polluters' have back-door access to UN climate talks

Article

November 28, 2016

About one week after the countries descended on Marrakech for the negotiations of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), a new infographic by Corporate Accountability International reveals the true extent of the fossil fuel industry’s access to, and influence over, the talks. The analysis exposes the financial and membership ties between some of the world’s largest fossil fuel corporations and accredited business groups and trade associations at the UNFCCC. These ties present an irreconcilable conflict of interest and bolster a movement among governments and civil society groups to develop a policy within the UNFCCC to protect from such conflicts. (Corporate Accountability International)

EU Action Plan on SDGs overlooks human rights risks of corporate activity

Article

November 28, 2016

A new plan of the EU Commission to implement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) overlooks the urgent need to address the negative impacts the private sector has on people and the planet. ECCJ, the European civil society coalition working on corporate accountability, believes the Commission’s plan does not reflect the responsibility of companies to respect human rights, throughout their operations and supply chains, and their primary obligation to do no harm by preventing and mitigating abuses. (European Coalition for Corporate Justice)

Article
November 25, 2016
The European Commission should start listening to its citizens and come out with concrete plans to enhance corporate accountability, at home and abroad, urge Jerome Chaplier, Urs Rybi and Sandra Cossart. The European Commission is slow in responding to a letter by eight EU parliaments urging the institution to develop an ambitious legal proposal requiring corporate respect of human rights. But acting with a lack of urgency means delaying justice and remedy for victims and affected communities across the globe. The Commission should stop deferring responsibility and own up to its commitment to protect and promote human rights and the environment. (EurActive)

The Monsanto Tribunal: A Report-Back

Article

November 24, 2016

The Monsanto Tribunal was held from October 14th to October 16th in The Hague, Netherlands at the headquarters of the International Court of Justice. For two days, victims, experts, and witnesses from around the world shared their experiences with five internationally renowned judges in order to assess Monsanto’s activities, particularly in terms of the right to food, the right to health, the right to a healthy environment, and the right to information. (FoodFirst)

Fragile! Handle with Care: Multinationals and Conflict

Report

November 24, 2016

A new report by SOMO reveals that multinational companies operating in conflict-affected areas often lack proper policies for how to deal with conflict situations – thereby running the risk of contributing to human rights violations and sparking renewed conflict. To meaningfully contribute to peace, multinationals must act with much greater care in situations of fragility and conflict. (SOMO)

Monsanto Lobbying: an attack on us, our planet and democracy

Briefing Paper

November 15, 2016

Corporations like Monsanto have vast resources to buy political power through lobbying. Not only are they represented by numerous lobbying associations at every level from local to global, they also have an army of hired-gun lobbyists, fund scientists to act as their mouthpiece, and participate in ‘greenwashing’ projects. A short guide published by Corporate Europe Observatory at the occasion of the International Monsanto Tribunal in The Hague, exposes some of Monsanto’s key lobbying strategies and tools, illustrated with examples from different parts of the world. (Corporate Europe Observatory)

Tell World Leaders to Kick Big Polluters out of Climate Policy!

Petition

November 15, 2016

The signing of COP21 was heralded by political and business leaders as a historic turning point. Yet at EU and UN levels it appears to remain business as usual: non-binding targets, fossil fuels and failed market mechanisms. That's because both processes have actively brought the fossil fuel industry into climate policy making – the very same companies responsible for climate change. With Big Polluters so close to policy makers, it’s no wonder climate policy is being shaped in the interest of corporate climate criminals rather than people and the environment. As world leaders meet for COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, the oil and gas industry retains a firm grip on the UN climate talks and climate policy in general. It’s time to break free and reclaim power over climate policy. (Corporate Europe Obersvatory et al.)

Article

November 13, 2016

At the conclusion of the seventh session of the World Health Organization’s global tobacco treaty negotiations, governments representing nearly 90 percent of the world’s population adopted policies that will protect public health over the narrow interests of the tobacco industry. These include tools to hold Big Tobacco legally liable for the harms of its products, recover healthcare costs, facilitate access to justice for victims of tobacco-related disease, and safeguard public health policymaking from the industry at the national and international level. Advance policies to hold industry legally liable and protect policymaking despite Big Tobacco’s attempts to undermine talks. (Corporate Accountability International)

United Nations and business community, out-sourcing or crowding in?

Briefing Paper

October 7, 2016

In order to intensify the effort to advance the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN is exploring financial solutions for the Sustainable Development Goals. This includes examining the transformations needed in the financial sector that will encourage implementation and addressing a number of questions such as: What are the most effective means to better align the trillions of dollars of annual private investment with the sustainable development goals and their targets? Can this approach be prioritized with regard to long-term investments made with funds from multiple domestic and international sources? Can it be made to cover the full range of the 2030 Agenda – and might it reach into all countries, including the least developed and small island developing states? (Global Policy Watch)

Approaching States' Obligations under a Treaty on TNCs and other business enterprises in Regard to Human Rights

Briefing Paper

October 5, 2016

A new brief by Kinda Mohamadieh from the Souc Centre discusses possible approaches to addressing States’ obligations under a prospective international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of TNCs and other business enterprises. The duty of the State to protect against human rights violations by private entities and to ensure remedies for victims of such violations is well established under international human rights law. Yet, given the globalized and rapidly evolving economic realities driven by multinational corporations, individual States often face limitations in their ability to respond to human rights violations by private entities and to exercise their sovereign right to regulate. A prospective Instrument could serve as an opportunity to address these limitations and enhance international cooperation in this area. (South Centre)

New briefing: FENSA - a fence against undue corporate influence on WHO?

Briefing Paper

September 28, 2016

After several years of intense discussions and negotiations, the World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted the World Health Organization’s Framework of Engagement with non-State Actors (FENSA) on 28 May 2016. The establishment of the framework was a response to the growing concerns of many governments and civil society organizations about the corporate influence on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) normative and operational activities. The objective of the new framework was therefore to provide guidelines for clear and informed decision making on WHO’s engagement with non-State actors, and to improve transparency and accountability. FENSA constitutes a precedent. It is the first comprehensive regulatory framework within the United Nations system that covers all types of interaction with non-State actors. The new briefing paper provides an overview on the recently adopted framework. It outlines the process leading up to this document, presents the agreed provisions, describes lobbying attempts by the private sector, and discusses the final outcome. (Brot für die Welt/Global Policy Forum/MISEROR)

In Need of Rethinking

Paper
September 26, 2016
"Free trade has both been negatively affected by and an active contributor to an anti-globalisation backlash in the public opinion of many advanced economies. Further trade liberalisation is increasingly resisted. Much of the backlash can be viewed as a reaction to the underlying policies that, in the past, have produced many »losers« – not just »winners« – and especially have increased income inequality. Most of the »low-hanging fruit« in trade liberalisation has already been harvested. In the search for further cost savings, the frontier of trade negotiations has moved away from the borders deep into the arena of national policies. Attempts to use trade negotiations to modify regulations that express societal preferences and had been established for reasons that are unrelated to international trade have largely eroded the confidence in trade negotiations and trade negotiators – and added to the backlash." writes Hubert Schillinger of FES' Geneva Office in a recently published Briefing Paper. (FES Geneva Office)

Report

September 19, 2016

African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) published a new report entitled “N2Africa, the Gates Foundation and legume commercialisation in Africa”. This report considers the N2Africa programme, which aims to develop and distribute improved, certified legume varieties, promote and distribute inoculants and synthetic fertiliser and develop commercial legume markets for smallholder integration in 13 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. N2Africa was started in 2009 with funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. While ACB can recognise the potentially valuable technical and organisational contributions of such efforts, it criticizes that they currently are oriented exclusively to supporting a modernisation agenda that can only benefit few. A legume development programme that integrates farmers into seed enhancement and production, and develops appropriate quality control systems based on farmer priorities and under the control of farmers, could offer a more sustainable and inclusive approach than a private sector, profit-driven approach. (African Centre for Biodiversity)

Put corporate lobbyists in the spotlight - vote now!

Survey

September 19, 2016

It’s an open secret: corporate lobbies enjoy a particularly cosy relationship with the trade officials at the European Commission. Behind closed doors, the infamous TTIP trade deal is being written hand in hand by regulators and the corporations they are meant to regulate. Corporate Europe Observatory, Friends of the Earth, LobbyControl and WeMove.EU launched the Democracy for Sale Awards, an initiative giving citizens the opportunity to call out the corporate lobbyists most successful in undermining democracy and the public interest by capturing the EU positions for TTIP. (Corporate Europe Observatory et al.)

Sign Petition: Tell EU to support UN treaty for businesses and human rights!

Petition

September 13, 2016

The UN Human Rights Council is currently negotiating a treaty with binding rules for businesses and human rights. This treaty could protect people from human rights abuses by corporations and bring corporate human rights violators to justice. Unfortunately, the European Union and its member states have so far taken a pro-business approach and have been boycotting negotiations. Help bring justice to the victims of corporate abuse and uphold the rights of people. Tell the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, that we need a binding treaty on business and human rights! Please sign and distribute the petition. (Friends of the Earth Europe et al.)

Article

June 15, 2016

The right of indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent in relation to development, infrastructure, and resource extraction projects is critical to the realization of all indigenous rights connected to the preservation and control of their territories. In a legal argument regarding this right, Mónica Yriart, an attorney in constitutional law, human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples, asserts that national political powers have no intention of conceding the right of consent to indigenous peoples, and that it is now essential to trace a carefully planned, and well timed strategy, from the first step to the last, and to “accept no failure.” Especially in the light of the current conflicts around the Tía María mining project and the plans of 20 hydroelectric dams on the Marañón River in Peru, the right of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent is of vital importance. (Servindi)

New publication: The Struggle for a UN Treaty

Report

June 13, 2016

In June 2014, the United Nations Human Rights Council took the historic decision to establish a working group “to elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in international human rights law, the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises.” This binding agreement should complement the existing UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which show serious shortcomings. Between 24 and 28 October 2016, the second session of the working group will take place in Geneva. Agains this background, Global Policy Forum and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung-New York Office published a new working paper. It presents the basic facts concerning the current discussions at the UN Human Rights Council, outlines the events leading up to today’s discussions, describes the controversies and lines of conflict, sets out the potential content of a legally binding instrument and concludes with some remarks on the further process. (Global Policy Forum/Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung-New York Office)

Five Western Donors Shape a Corporate Agenda for African Agriculture

Report

June 3, 2016

The Unholy Alliance, Five Western Donors Shape a Pro-Corporate Agenda for African Agriculture, a new report released today by the Oakland Institute, exposes how a coalition of four donor countries and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is shaping a pro-business environment in the agricultural sector of developing countries, especially in Africa. (Oakland Institute)

Partnerships and the 2030 Agenda: Time to reconsider their role in implementation

Paper

May 23, 2016

“Partnership” is a misleading term to cover every type of engagement between UN entities and non-State actors. It promotes a false sense of equality. Lumping CSOs and corporate actors together according to their non-State status ignores the profound differences in their orientation, interests and accountability. Before considering ways to enhance the effectiveness of partnerships between UN entities and non-State actors and establishing a system-wide delivery support, more fundamental questions should be addressed. This Background Note poses necessary questions and offers perspectives both from the work of Global Policy Forum as well as from previous proposals on partnerships offered by some Member States. (Global Policy Watch)

UN Treaty Must Address Corporate Capture

Statement

May 18, 2016

The Treaty Alliance has called on civil society organisations (CSOs) everywhere to take action to combat corporate capture. At the recent treaty Alliance gathering in Brazil they particularly called on CSOs to demand that the forthcoming United Nations (UN) binding treaty contains strong provisions that prohibit the interference of corporations in the process of forming and implementing laws and policies, as well as administering justice, at all national and international levels. (Treaty Alliance)

Auf dem Weg zu globalen Unternehmensregeln - Der "Treaty-Prozess" in den Vereinten Nationen

Paper

May 4, 2016

Es war eine historische Entscheidung, als der UN-Menschenrechtsrat im Juni 2014 eine Arbeitsgruppe einsetzte, um ein rechtsverbindliches Instrument zu formulieren, mit dem transnationale Konzerne und andere Wirtschaftsunternehmen für Menschenrechtsvergehen zur Verantwortung gezogen werden können. Ein neues Arbeitspapier von Global Policy Forum und Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung liefert Basisinformationen zu den aktuellen Diskussionen im UN-Menschenrechtsrat, dem sogenannten „Treaty-Prozess“. Es skizziert die Vorgeschichte der gegenwärtigen Diskussionen, beschreibt politische Kontroversen und Konfliktlinien, erläutert die möglichen Inhalte eines Abkommens und formuliert abschließend einige Schlussfolgerungen für den weiteren Prozess. (Global Policy Forum)

Regional Commissions should not set International PPP standards

Letter

March 29, 2016

On the occasion of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's Forum on Public Private Partnerships, the Addis CSO Coordination Group, a broad coalition of NGOs working on the issues of the Financing for Development Agenda since the first International Conference on FfD in Monterrey in 2001, has published an open letter. The authors challenge the attempt by UNECE to define international standards on PPPs as illegitimate and call for the issue to be raised during the upcoming FfD Forum in New York in April. There, contrary to the UNECE meeting, all country governments, including those from the global South will have a say. (Addis CSO Coordination Group)

Multi-stakeholder partnerships in the 2030 Agenda

Paper

March 15, 2016

In support of the upcoming ECOSOC Partnership Forum (March 31, 2016), researchers Marianne Beisheim and Nils Simon have prepared an independent paper to inform and stimulate a debate around "ways to improve, inter alia, transparency, accountability and the sharing of experiences of multi-stakeholder partnerships and on the review and monitoring of those partnerships." The paper defines and differentiates types of multi-stakeholder partnerships, identifies reasons for their successes and/or failures, briefly recaps the history of the UN’s involvement in those partnerships and points out recent developments in the context of the 2030 Agenda. Finally, the paper outlines options for improving the overall governance and specifically the accountability, transparency, and measurement of results of multi-stakeholder partnerships at the UN. (German Institute for International and Security Affairs)

PPPs and the 2030 Agenda

Working Paper

March 10, 2016

In light of the emphasis given to public-private partnerships as a mechanism to finance infrastructure projects and highlighting the need for capacity building and knowledge sharing at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa, a recently published working paper by the Department of Economic & Social Affairs at the UN Secretariat reviews the extant literature on the subject and identifies areas requiring better understanding and institutional innovation for ensuring value for money, minimizing contingent fiscal risk and improving accountability. "An institutional capacity to create, manage and evaluate PPPs is essential to ensure that they become an effective instrument of delivery of important services, such as infrastructure. There is also a need for a common definition of PPPs and internationally accepted guidelines, including uniform accounting and reporting standards." (UN-DESA)

The zombie ISDS

Report

March 8, 2016

The European Commission’s “new” investor protection proposal brings controversial corporate super rights back from the dead according to a recent Corporate Europe Observatory report: “The zombie ISDS – rebranded as ICS, rights for corporations to sue states refuse to die”. It shows how the push for foreign investor privileges in EU trade talks such as the proposed EU-US ‎TTIP‬ deal continues as the Commission attempts to rebrand the politically untenable investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) as an “Investment Court System”. (Corporate Europe Observatory)


Report

February 18, 2016

The EU’s “Better Regulation” agenda, despite being less known than TTIP, seeks to improve Europe’s competitiveness by reducing the regulatory costs for business through instruments that closely resemble those discussed under TTIP. In a new report, the European Environmental Bureau, Bread for the World and Forum Umwelt & Entwicklung raise concerns over the “Better Regulation” project proposed by the Juncker Commission. According to the organizations, such a measure to curb regulation is unlikely to achieve its primary aim of improving Europe’s competitiveness. Efforts to reduce the burden of environmental regulations on business will simply subsidize Europe’s least competitive businesses by allowing them to dump part of their production costs on the environment, leaving taxpayers and citizens to pay for this through increased health care costs and efforts to clean up the environment. The “Better Regulation” agenda fails to take into consideration the benefits to society as a whole deriving from regulation. Addressing global challenges will require the EU to adopt new, effective and often legally binding policies. A blanket requirement to offset any regulatory burden arising from new policies by slashing regulatory burdens elsewhere irrespective of the benefits arising would seriously hamper these efforts. Both under TTIP and through its unilateral “Better Regulation” agenda, the EU’s governance system is changing significantly with a stronger role for well resourced regulated industries to write their own rules. (European Environmental Bureau/ Bread for the World/Forum Umwelt & Entwicklung)

Gated Development - is the Gates Foundation always a force for good?

Report

January 20, 2016

A new report by Global Justice Now demonstrates that the trend to involve business in addressing poverty and inequality is central to the priorities and funding of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The authors argue that this is far from a neutral charitable strategy but instead an ideological commitment to promote neoliberal economic policies and corporate globalization. Big business is directly benefitting, in particular in the fields of agriculture and health, as a result of the foundation’s activities, despite evidence to show that business solutions are not the most effective. (Global Justice Now)

Report

January 18, 2016

A new report by Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl examines the origins and impacts of TTIP's proposals for regulatory cooperation and shows that the process has been dominated by big business right from the start. This part of the talks involves dismantling existing “regulatory barriers” and preventing new ones from emerging with public interest regulations having to go through lengthy procedures, including vetting by business for possible impacts on trade. The TTIP talks cover a wide range of policy areas from chemicals regulations to employment policy, data protection to agriculture and are thus the biggest focal point for lobbying efforts right now in Brussels. (Corporate Europe Observatory/LobbyControl)


2015

Rights for Business, not for People: the EU's Agenda

Paper

December 17, 2015

A new paper by Friends of the Earth Europe explains how the European Union is aggressively pursuing special rights for businesses whilst hampering efforts to hold corporations responsible for the human rights violations they commit. The European Commission and the EU member states have been pushing for special rights for European investors whose operations are internationally enforced by secretive, business-friendly tribunals in trade agreements such as the EU-US TTIP deal. Yet, the European countries and the European Commission are derailing attempts to develop a legally binding treaty at the UN level which would give citizens the opportunity to get access to justice and defend their human rights when these are being violated by corporations. (Friends of the Earth Europe)



Puvan Selvanathan resigns from UN Working Group on Business & Human Rights, calling for a binding treaty

Letter

December 16, 2015

Puvan Selvanathan has resigned from the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights, where he has been working since 2011. In an open letter to J. Rücker, current President of the Human Rights Council, Selvanathan calls for a legally-binding treaty on business and human rights. He states “I believe that if a business can operate ‘legally’ yet impact negatively on human rights then that is a simple failure of a state’s duties. […] I suggest that if states wish for businesses to respect human rights then what that constitutes must be made mandatory. […] The loudest calls within a company for higher goals are distant echoes if even a whisper for profit exists. […] Companies are our own social creations and reflect our own values. They are defined by the rules that we choose to lay down.” (Puvan Selvanathan)

Unease over seconded philanthropic foundation staff to WHO's top management

Article

December 10, 2015

Philanthropic foundations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United Nations Foundation have seconded their staffers to top management positions at the World Health Organization. This information revealed to Member States during the ongoing negotiations of the Framework for Engagement with non-State Actors (FENSA) shows that between 2012 and 2015, WHO had 37 secondments from non-State actors (NSA). Three current top-level secondments have Gates Foundation connections. This information published for the first time brings out the lack of a comprehensive conflict of interest policy in the WHO covering both individual and institutional conflict of interest. During the negotiations, developing countries proposed a complete ban on secondments from NSAs whereas Germany and Switzerland are opposing the prohibition. A new article by TWN presents the information and reports on the debate on secondments to WHO at the ongoing negotiations of FENSA. (Third World Network)


WHO: Do financial contributions from ‘pharma’ violate WHO Guidelines?

Article

December 8, 2015

Millions of dollars given by major pharmaceutical companies to the World Health Organization (WHO) raise questions of compliance with the organization’s guidelines on interactions with commercial enterprises. It is notable that the draft Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA) currently being finalised by WHO Member States does not contain a provision that requires a commercial enterprise to conform to WHO’s polices, norms and standard. In a new article, K M Gopakumar from Third World Network (TWN) presents the amount of financial contributions by pharmaceutical companies to the WHO and sets out why these contributions are in conflict with WHO’s criteria for ethical promotion of medicines and accordingly the Guidelines. (Third World Network)

A new GPF working paper, jointly published with Brot für die Welt and MISEREOR, examines the role and impact of philanthropic foundations in development. It addresses the impacts and side effects of philanthropic engagement by taking a closer look at the priorities and operations of two of the most prominent foundations, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, in two crucial sectors, health and agriculture. So far, there has been a fairly willing belief among governments and international organizations in the positive role of philanthropy in global development. But in light of experiences in the areas of health, food, nutrition and agriculture, which are discussed in this working paper, a thorough assessment of the impacts and side effects of philanthropic engagement is necessary. The important role being allocated to the philanthropic sector in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda makes the discussion of its role a matter of urgency. (Global Policy Forum)


Treaty debate heats up at 2015 UN business and human rights forum

Article

November 26, 2015

In a post on the blog „Business & Human Rights in Ireland” Shane Darcy summarizes his impressions of the United Nations Business and Human Rights Forum, held in Geneva from 16 – 18 November, giving a good overview of the current state of the process. The annual event saw 2,300 attendees, representing States, business, civil society, academia and various international organisations. It also offered the chance to participate in numerous discussion panels and side events over three days touching on almost every aspect of the field of business and human rights. In regard to the initiative for a business and human right treaty the post explains several issues, including the relationship between the treaty process and the United Nations Guiding Principles, whether the treaty should be applied to transnational companies only or include national companies and the position of non-state actors in international law. It closes remarking on the fact that tax evasion was only touched on in passing for most of the event. (Business & Human Rights Ireland)

Fueling the Fire: The big polluters bankrolling COP21

Report

November 26, 2015

Corporate Accountability International has released a report about corporations sponsoring the COP21 summit next week. The report, titled “Fueling the Fire: The big polluters bankrolling COP21” analyses the track record of four major sponsors: Engie (formerly GDF Suez) and Suez Environnement, BNP Paribas and Électricité de France (EDF). It sheds light on the pollution caused by the companies as well as their greenwashing and lobbying activities and their interference with the climate summit. It concludes that there is an inherent conflict of interest in letting major polluters sponsor the COP21, and suggests regulation similar to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to safeguard the process against conflicting interests. (Corporate Accountability International)

Article

November 26, 2015

In an article for The Guardian, Alfred de Zayas, UN independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, argues that investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) should be abolished as it puts investors rights before human rights. He outlines a number of cases in which investors sued governments over environment regulations or health standards and won, showing how commercial interests trump human rights considerations. He argues that respect for human rights must prevail over commercial laws and that it is time for the UN General Assembly to convene a world conference to put human rights at the centre of the international investment regime. In this context, a binding treaty on business and human rights is long overdue. (The Guardian)

The Corporate Cookbook: How climate criminals have captured COP21

Report

November 25, 2015

Coming up to the UN climate talks in Paris bound to start next week, the Corporate Europe Observatory has taken a look at what is being cooked up by big business for the negotiations. This report highlights five “key ingredients” ranging from short-terminism, to the advocacy of fossil fuels, especially natural gas, market mechanisms, technologies that are yet to be discovered and continually promoting already existing methods such as industrial agriculture. The report concludes that the results of the Paris negotiations will offer little to the climate; however it could be an important turning point in terms of de-legitimising the dangerous and destructive role that corporate climate criminals are currently playing in climate policy-making. (Corporate Europe Observatory)

Binding Treaty: Detailed report on first session of UN Working Group

Report

November 25, 2015

The 87-88 double issue of the South Bulletin titled "Business and Human Rights: Commencing discussions on legally binding instrument", which was released by the South Centre, publishes a number of detailed reports on the first meeting of the Human Rights Council's Working Group on a legally binding instrument on TNCs and other business enteprises with respect to human rights in July 2015. The reports in this Bulletin include general overviews; the scope of application of the instrument; the obligations of states and businesses; standards for legal liability and building mechanisms for access to remedy. The opening speeches of the Chairperson and a Special Rapporteur are also included.(South Centre)

In response to a 'non paper' prepared by the WHO secretariat, a number of NGOs, among them the Baby Food Action Network and the Third World Network, have sent a letter to the Director General of WHO, calling on her to protect the UN and overall policy-making from corporate takeover. The WHO 'non paper' states that the Framework of Engagement With Non State Actors (FENSA), currently under negotiation at the WHO, might have “detrimental consequences on the work of the WHO”. The NGOs undersigned on the letter are concerned, that the WHO might remain open to corporate capture and outside influences without a robust framework, which FENSA could provide. A robust framework, they argue, is essential to protect the integrity, independence and credibility of WHO as it carries out its essential norm-setting tasks.

Paper

October 9, 2015

“As the authors of this enlightening volume of the Watch make clear, nutritional adequacy and well-being are integral dimensions of the right to adequate food—and must be dealt with as such. Peoples’ nutrition and food sovereignty risk being undermined by predatory agri-business practices that relentlessly pursue maximum profit at all costs.”

Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food

The Right to Food and Nutrition Watch report "Peoples Nutrition Is Not a Business" places the spotlight on nutrition and the impact of business operations on people’s livelihoods. In doing so, their assessment goes beyond the measurement of nutrients in food and human bodies to considering the socio-economic and cultural context in which human beings feed themselves. The paper also provides recommendations for states to prevent and punish initiatives that hamper the enjoyment of the right to adequate food and nutrition.

Paper

October 6, 2015

In the recently released paper 'Foreign Direct Investment, Investment Agreements and Economic Development: Myths and Realities' by South Centre, Yilmaz Akyüz examines the effects of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) on emerging and developing economies and how it can be used to benefit them. The paper critically assesses the benefits commonly ascribed to FDI and clarifies that only a small percentage of FDI is a long term, stable, cross-border flow of capital that adds to productive capacity, helps meet balance-of-payments shortfalls, transfers technology and management skills, and links domestic firms with wider global markets. Additionally the paper reviews the effects of the WTO and Bilateral Investment Treaties on the ability of emerging and developing economies to regulate FDI, before closing with policy recommendations derived from the analysis.

A binding international instrument on business & human rights should safeguard civic space

Commentary

September 11, 2015

In a commentary for the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, Maina Kiai, UN Sepcial Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association elaborates why it is so difficult to ensure that assembly and association rights are respected in the context of natural resource exploitation, and concludes that the best solution to the problem would be a binding international treaty that imposes human rights obligations on businesses."The world has changed since the adoption of our core international human rights norms in the 20th century," the Special Rapporteur writes. "States are no longer the sole dominant actors. International law must change to reflect this reality." (Maina Kiai, UN Sepcial Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association)


The firepower of the EU pharmaceutical lobby and implications for public health

Report

September 1, 2015

A new report released today, 'Policy prescriptions: the firepower of the EU pharmaceutical lobby and implications for public health' by Corporate Europe Observatory, probes the privileged access to decision-making in Brussels enjoyed by the pharmaceutical sector and facilitated by a lobby spending around €40 million, extensive meetings with policy-makers, and presence in advisory groups. The report reveals the dramatic extent of the pharmaceutical industry's lobbying efforts towards EU decision-makers, with the industry spending an estimated 15 times more than civil society actors working on public health or access to medicines. Under-reporting and the continued avoidance by some of the EU's voluntary lobby transparency system mean that overall industry spending may be much higher than the transparency register reveals. (Corporate Europe Observatory)


Revolving doors between business & politics: greasing the wheels of the TTIP lobby

Documentation

July 24, 2015

The prospective EU-US trade deal TTIP could be the world's biggest such treaty. While there are disagreements and divergences, in many areas of the negotiations the European Commission is singing from the corporate hymn-sheet. The revolving door between the public and private sectors is helping to grease the wheels of the TTIP corporate lobby. Some of the EU's most senior decision-makers and officials, alongside those from the member state levels, spin through the revolving door into corporate advisor roles; others go in the other direction, from corporate jobs into the public sector. These revolving door cases cover some of the biggest EU corporate lobby sectors, including telecoms and IT issues; food and agriculture; finance; investor-state dispute settlement; pharmaceuticals; regulatory cooperation; and others. This phenomenon creates great potential for conflicts of interest, and demonstrates the synergies between business interests and the European Commission, the UK government, and others when it comes to TTIP and trade negotiations. CEO documents a variety of revolving door cases including a commissioner, MEPs and officials with links or interests in TTIP. (Corporate Europe Observatory)

A Low Bar for Business

Statement

July 16, 2015

Just out from the Business Sector Steering Committee is the “Financing for Development Business Compendium.” It highlights 33 efforts aimed at mobilizing the private sector capital, claiming these provide “a strong indication of the broad scope of ongoing initiatives and the potential for scaling up to achieve the demands of the Sustainable Development Goals.” The initiatives will be listed on the UN Financing for Development website as examples of the commitments different stakeholders are making under the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD3). Their stated aim is to mobilise private sector capital, expertise and facilitation around the SDGs but they lack explicit commitment to UN standards. (Global Policy Watch)


UN Working Group on a treaty on business and human rights opened

Statement

July 07, 2015

The first session of the Intergovernmental Working Group on an international legally binding instrument on business and human rights (IGWG) is taking place this week, 6-10 July, in Geneva. Global Policy Forum, Brot für die Welt, CIDSE, SOMO, Friends of the Earth Europe, IBFAN and IBFAN-GIFA have jointly submitted a contribution to the IGWG, which makes propositions for the legal building blocks of the Treaty on business and human rights regarding the scope, the state duty to protect and direct obligations for corporations. (GPF et al.)

From the iron ore to the car

Documentary

July 07, 2015

In a recently released short documentary, Brazilian initiative Justiça nos Trilhos (JnT) explains about social and environmental conflicts in iron ore extraction in the Amazon region of Carajás, northern Brazil—and the connections with the German car industry. Again and again, mining and processing of natural resources has involved violations of human rights and an escalating of violence and conflicts. Largely, this problem has lately received public attention as far as diamonds, coltan and other “conflict commodities” are concerned. However, the extraction of other commodities, such as iron, copper and bauxite, frequently also goes hand in hand with violations of human rights, severe environmental degradation, conflicts and the criminalisation of human rights defenders. (Justiça nos Trilhos)


Whose representatives? MEPs on the industry payroll

Report

June 18, 2015

Potential conflicts of interest continue to plague the European Parliament one year after elections, finds new research released by Friends of the Earth Europe, Corporate Europe Observatory and LobbyControl. The new report details nine cases of MEPs who have other jobs while holding public office and are at risk of potential conflicts of interest. (Friends of the Earth Europe/ Corporate Europe Observatory/ LobbyControl)


G7 food initiative driving hunger in African countries, say global civil society groups

Statement

June 03, 2015

Politicians and executives from some of the world’s biggest agribusiness companies are meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, on June 3, 2015, for the leadership council of the controversial New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. On the same day, a coalition of a hundred farmers’ organisations, social movements, unions and civil society groups around the world have released a statement calling on the G7 and African governments to stop supporting the New Alliance. The policies of the New Alliance have been criticised as they “facilitate the grabbing of land and other natural resources, further marginalize small-scale producers, and undermine the right to adequate food and nutrition.” (Africa Euorope Faith and Justice Network)

New Call for an International Legal Framework on Business and Human Rights

Statement

June 02, 2015

In June 2014, the UN Human Rights Council adopted Resolution 26/9 to establish an Intergovernmental Working Group (IGWG) whose mandate shall be to elaborate an international legally-binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights. Ahead of the upcoming first session of the IGWG on 6-10 July 2015, the Treaty Alliance, a coalition of more than 610 NGOs and 400 individuals across the globe, calls on all civil society organizations and States to actively and constructively participate in this process. The new Treaty Alliance joint statement calls for signatures to demand strong regulation of corporate human rights abuses, new strong systems of remedy for affected people and no undue corporate interference in the treaty-making process. (Treaty Alliance)


Indigenous Peoples Right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent: The Peruvian case

Article

May 28, 2015

The right of indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent in relation to development, infrastructure, and resource extraction projects is critical to the realization of all indigenous rights connected to the preservation and control of their territories. In a legal argument regarding this right, Mónica Yriart, an attorney who specializes in constitutional law, human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples, asserts that national political powers have no intention of conceding the right of consent to indigenous peoples, and that it is now essential to trace a carefully planned, and well timed strategy, from the first step to the last, and to “accept no failure.”

Especially in the light of the current conflicts around the Tía María mining project and the plans of 20 hydroelectric dams on the Marañón River in Peru, the right of indigenous peoples to free, prior and informed consent is of vital importance. (SERVINDI)

WHO: Work on non-State actors engagement framework to continue

Article

May 28, 2015

The recently concluded 68th World Health Assembly (WHA) adopted a resolution to continue the negotiations on WHO’s Framework for Engagement with Non-State Actors. The seven days of hectic negotiation, which started on 20 May could not reach consensus on critical issues due to the divergence of views among Member States. These issues include the definition of resources, secondments, the relation of WHO with industries other than the tobacco and arms industry, transparency requirements, oversight mechanism of engagements with non-State actors (NSAs), ceiling on financial resources, and others. The advocates for enhanced engagement with NSAs are developed countries and this was viewed by developing countries as an attempt to facilitate corporate capture of the WHO. (Third World Network)

Keep a Strong FENSA: Safeguard WHO's Independence From Private Interests

Article

May 22, 2015

At the sixty-eighth World Health Assembly, the currently discussed Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA) is one major topic of concern. Member States have not yet reached a consensus about the main subjects of debate. These are the determination of rules of engagement between WHO and non-State actors (NSAs), secondments from the private sector, and restrictions and/or ceilings on financial contributions from NSAs. While there are conflicts of interest within entities across the public and private sectors, vigilance is needed to ensure that the private sector cannot drive technical recommendations and policy-making. FENSA must not become an instrument to legitimize industry influence and undermine the independence of WHO. (The Huffington Post)

CSOs voice concerns over corporate takeover of WHO

Article

May 21, 2015

During the sixty-eighth World Health Assembly, which is held in Geneva 18-26 May 2015, the WHO member states restarted negotiations on a framework for engagement with non-state actors. The current draft framework aims to open up official relations to non-state actors, including NGOs, the private sector, philanthropic foundations and academic institutions. Furthermore, certain rich member states are seeking to force WHO to open up its policy-making and decision-making spaces to transnational corporations. Many states have raised concerns about conflicts of interest, as well as on the credibility, integrity and independence of the WHO. In a joint statement, civil society organisations (CSOs) and social movements denote the current draft as problematic and contested. (Third World Network)

Business Accountability FOR Development: Mapping business liability mechanisms and donor engagement with private sector in development

Study

April 29, 2015

How can we ensure that business – in particular multinational enterprises (MNEs) – really contribute to development in the countries where they operate? The new study “Business Accountability FOR Development” by the Trade Union Development Cooperation Network (ITUC-TUDCN), supported by the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) and EURODAD, highlights existing business accountability mechanisms in general, and puts forward specific criteria to grant effectiveness of private sector initiatives in development. (Trade Union Development Cooperation Network)

Lobbying in Europe: hidden influence, privileged access

Report

April 23, 2015

A new report by Transparency International finds that of 19 European countries assessed, only 7 have some form of dedicated lobbying law or regulation, allowing for nearly unfettered influence of business interests on the daily lives of Europeans. The 19 countries together score just 31 per cent (out of 100 per cent) when measured against international lobbying standards and best practice in the report “Lobbying in Europe: Hidden Influence, Privileged Access”. (Transparency International)


Food Security Governance Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations

Review

February 10, 2015

The new book “Food Security Governance; Empowering Communities, Regulating Corporations” by Nora McKeon explores the global food governance at a crossroads. The global food crisis from 2008 affirmed that the struggle over the global food system is not between farmers in the ‘Global North’ and the ‘Global South’, but an intensified struggle between two opposing pathways for food and agriculture:  those upholding the dominant status quo model of industrial agriculture and those struggling for alternative models emphasizing local diversified and resilient food systems. Read a review by Ingeborg Gaarde.

Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More

Report

January 20, 2015

Global wealth is increasingly concentrated in the hands of a small wealthy elite. These wealthy individuals have generated and sustained their vast riches through their interests and activities in a few important economic sectors, including finance and insurance and pharmaceuticals and healthcare. Companies from these sectors spend millions of dollars every year on lobbying to create a policy environment that protects and enhances their interests further. The most prolific lobbying activities in the US are on budget and tax issues; public resources that should be directed to benefit the whole population, rather than reflect the interests of powerful lobbyists. This briefing explains Oxfam’s methodology and data sources and updates key inequality statistics, such as Oxfam’s frequently cited fact in 2014: ‘85 billionaires have the same wealth as the bottom half of the world’s population.' (Oxfam International)

2014

Dirty Profits

Report

December 9, 2014

Facing Finance in collaboration with several other organizations has launched the third edition of the "Dirty Profits" report. The report documents sample cases of serious violations of internationally established norms and standards. It investigates 25 controversial companies that in 2013 had a joint revenue of approx. €4.196 trillion and achieved net profits of €450 billion. Companies that have been selected include some that are blacklisted on investors exclusion lists, others that do not comply with international or national law, or those that face serious allegations by the media or civil society. Dirty Profits 3 also investigates the extent to which these companies are supported by European financial institutions.

Corporate Conquistadors at COP20

Report

December 9, 2014

A new report released at COP20 by Corporate Europe Observatory, Democracy Center and Transnational Institute shows how corporations causing social and environmental destruction in the Andes and Amazon are driving climate change, whilst enjoying influential seats at the climate-negotiating table. The case studies included demonstrate how corporations from the global North operating in the extractives industry use well-honed practices of political manipulation while hiding their true nature through extravagant public relations campaigns which trumpet their disingenuous environmental credentials. The consequences of these corporations’ manipulation of decision-making processes include: the opening of new gas fields that destroy indigenous territories, the decimation of local water supplies and the forced displacement of whole communities. Yet in the midst of such exploitation the writers of the report have also witnessed brave acts of resistance by local communities.

Banking with Principles?

Study

December 5, 2014

A new study released by BankTrack, “Banking with Principles? Benchmarking banks against the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”, assesses how banks are doing at implementing the Principles into their own operations, policies and reporting. The report checks 32 large global banks against the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which set out the responsibilities of businesses to respect fundamental human freedoms. The report shows that, while some progress has been made since the Principles were launched in mid-2011, major gaps remain.

Where is the public in Public Private Partnerships?

Article

September 29, 2014

A July Report from the World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) has revealed a worrying lack of proven poverty impact from the World Bank’s public-private partnerships (PPPs). This comes despite a significant increase in the Bank’s support to PPPs in the decade 2002 through 2012 and the Bank’s recent strategy, which suggests intensifying support for PPPs in the future. One key reason for the ineffectiveness of PPPs, writes Eurodad's María José Romero, has been the scant attention paid to hidden debts run up by these partnerships. Indeed, public sector liabilities triggered by PPPs can be substantial and this has been the case for many PPPs. If this particular issue is not addressed properly, it has the potential to have long-term negative development impacts. Overall, the IEG evaluation raises critical points that should prompt deep reflection and a management response from the World Bank Group, including a reassessment of the rationale for supporting PPPs to reduce poverty and fight inequality.

G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition Not Supportive of Small-Scale Food Producers

Statement

September 22, 2014

On the occasion of the meeting of the Leadership Council of the New Alliance for Food Security in New York, ninety-one civil society organizations from G7/8 member countries have signed a joint statement expressing their strong criticism of the New Alliance initiative. The organizations are demanding that governments of the G7/8 take immediate action to radically reform the New Alliance, citing how changes in agricultural policy and legislation under the New Alliance continue to benefit commercial concerns to the detriment of small-scale farmers. German organizations, in turn, are calling on the German Federal Government to use its Presidency of the G7/8 in 2015 to propose an alternative initiative that focuses on the interests of small-scale farmers in the Global South and supports their contribution to food security through public investment. An amended version of the statement can be found below.

New Commission must end corporate dominance of EU expert groups

Press Release

September 1, 2014

In a recent press release, Corporate Europe Observatory highlights the consensus of trade unions and transparency organizations around ‘the need to tackle the persistent over-representation of corporate interests in the European Commission “expert groups”’. Research shows that the dominance of business interests in the most economically and politically powerful expert groups can often have a detrimental effect on the EU decision making process – indeed corporate interests are seldom in line with public interests. A thorough review of the horizontal rules that govern the composition of expert groups and reliance on other sources of expertise is duly recommended.

Moral Hazard? 'Mega' public-private partnerships in African agriculture

Briefing Paper

September 1, 2014

The effectiveness and potential of ‘mega’ public-private partnerships (PPPs) as instruments for alleviating poverty and improving the livelihoods of farmers in Africa is in question. In response to the dramatic increase in the number of mega-PPPs being established under the ambit of the New Alliance for Food Security of the G8, Oxfam International has released a briefing paper that takes a critical look at some of the reasons behind these surging figures. The results of the report are telling: those benefiting from these partnerships are by and large private investors, while the poorest and most vulnerable people are all too often left on the sidelines in decision making processes and end up shouldering the burden of risk. (Oxfam International)

Are economic growth and social justice incompatible?

Blog Post
July 15, 2014

This excerpt from a conversation between Dr. Jason Hickel of the London School of Economics (LSE) and Alnoor Ladha of /The Rules links inequality, the consolidation of corporate power, tax evasion, and free trade agreements in illustrating what has become "a total inversion of our existing regulatory logic." (/The Rules)


TISA: on the way to unlimited deregulation

Article

July 14, 2014

While everybody on both sides of the Atlantic seems to be talking about TTIP when it comes to discussing free trade theses days, another currently negotiated agreement looms in the shadows: Like a steamroller, the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) could flatten almost every sphere of services. Under the pretext of circumventing the stalemated Doha Round of the WTO, Switzerland and 50 other mostly industrialized countries are negotiating a broad-based agreement for financial services, telecommunications, internet trade, transport by water, land and air, professional services (lawyers, architects, doctors, etc.), and energy and postal services. TISA aims to embed deregulation in national legal systems such that – once introduced – there is no going back. In short, public services are in danger, as are in general all regulations in the public interest. (Alliance Sud)

Article

July 14, 2014

In an article on a Swiss Federal Council Report, Peter Niggli, Director of Alliance Sud, emphasizes the need for binding rules for business and human rights: "Attempts have [...] been made in the United Nations to create a globally binding set of rules for all transnational enterprises; it was successfully torpedoed by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). The United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights in place since 2011 [...] call on individual States to take action and force their transnational corporations to respect human rights. [...] the Swiss «Corporate Justice» alliance followed up with a petition to the Federal Council and Parliament, demanding, amongst other things, that a duty of care for corporate management bodies and corresponding management systems be prescribed by law." (Alliance Sud)

Shadowy institutions take over development agenda through private company support

Report

July 11, 2014

Eurodad publishes a new report dealing with the relationship between development finance institutions (DFIs) and the private sector. Government-controlled DFIs are important players in the development arena through investing in the private sector in development countries. As the report points out, these institutions are organized as private, profit-oriented corporations facilitating an imbalance in power structures. This means that rich country governments are able to influence DFIs through shareholding, while not including recipient countries in their investment decisions. This, according to Eurodad, could be circumvented by, inter alia compliance with finance standards and a greater development focus of DFIs. (Eurodad)

New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa raises concerns

Report
July 02, 2014

In a recent policy paper, the FIAN critically analyses the G8 “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition in Africa” from a human rights perspective. Although the G8 initiative intends to get 50 million people out of poverty by 2022, according to FIAN, serious concerns about the initiative have to be raised. It ignores general human rights principles and does not carry out human risk analysis. Besides, the G8 New Alliance links the opining of agriculture and food markets to foreign investors with fighting hunger and malnutrition. While the G8 initiative enforces its public-private partnership initiative, FIAN calls on G8 governments to stop it, because of its bias towards the corporate sector and the missing states’ obligations to ensure no violations of human rights through private corporations. (FIAN International)

Resolution on binding human rights standards passes in Human Rights Council

Press Release
June 27, 2014

The Treaty Alliance published a Press Release on the adoption of a resolution initiating a process to develop legally binding human rights standards for transnational corporations. The resolution sponsored by Ecuador and South Africa was adopted on June 26 by the United Nations Human Rights Council after fierce negotiations. While the EU and others already expressed that they will not cooperate in the implementation of the resolution, the decision could nevertheless mean a big step towards bringing justice to the victims of ongoing human rights abuses by transnational corporations. (Treaty Alliance)

EU Aims to Scuttle Treaty on Human Rights Abuses

Article
June 24, 2014

When the United Nations began negotiating a Code of Conduct for Transnational Corporations (TNCs) back in the 1970s, the proposal never got off the ground because of vigourous opposition both from the powerful business community and its Western allies. A move to resurrect this proposal – through the creation of a new international legally-binding treaty to hold TNCs accountable for human rights abuses – has triggered the same political replay of the 1970s: strong opposition from business interests and Western nations, this time specifically the European Union. IPS TerraViva interviews GPF's Jens Martens, who cites the recent paper Corporate Influence on the Business and Human Rights Agenda of the United Nations in his analysis.

Chanel, Tupperware to accelerate women's empowerment

Press Release
June 2, 2014

UN Women launches a new Private Sector Leadership Advisory Council. The council, which is expected to offer advice to accelerate women's economic empowerment, end violence against women and help to close the funding gap for UN Women, is comprised of ten corporate executives from companies ranging from Tupperware to Chanel to Anglo American. The council is supposed to provide the foundation for further "Golden Triangle" partnerships, as they are being called, between corporations, governments and civil society. The council will meet twice a year to review progress and provide strategic input to guide advocacy and resource mobilization efforts. (UN Women)

G20/OECD plans for global tax reform dominated by corporate interests

Report
May 2, 2014

On May 2 Oxfam released the report ‘Business among Friends’ critically assessing the OECD-led ‘Action Plan on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting’ (BEPS). The negative implications of tax evasion and profit shifting for development are increasingly acknowledged among political leaders and international organizations. The amount that governments in the Global South lose annually due to illicit financial transfers but also legal means of tax evasion easily outnumbers the amount they receive in form of Official Development Aid (ODA). Nevertheless, developing countries are not involved in the process of reforming the global tax system, according to the authors. Instead, business interests dominate the negotiations. As a result, OECD members and multinational corporations will likely benefit from BEPS at the expense of developing countries. (Oxfam)

State of Corporations – The rise of illegitimate power and the threat to democracy

Report
January 2014

In this first chapter of the Transnational Institute's third annual State of Power report, Susan George analyses increasing corporate power and a corresponding lack of accountability, which she links to destabilizing effects on global systems, including global governance. (Transnational Institute)

Public-Private Partnerships in Global Health: Putting Business before Health?

Research Paper
January 2014

This paper analyzes the relationship of the World Health Organisation (WHO) with the private sector. It provides a historical perspective on corporate influence on the WHO, particularly the increase in public-private partnerships and product development partnerships presided over by Gro Harlem Brundland, during her tenure as WHO Director-General from 1998 to 2003. By 2012-2013, the paper illustrates, more than 80 per cent of the WHO Programme Budget — US$ 3.9 billion — comes from voluntary contributions from the private sector, rather than regular quotas from Member States. "The WHO itself has become a big public-private partnership," the paper asserts, and questions the role of these new funders in the WHO's governance. (South Centre)

2013

Peoples’ Forum requests binding instrument to regulate Transnational Corporations

Article
November 28, 2013

A joint statement was drafted by participants of the first annual People's Forum on Human Rights and Businesses calling for an international legally binding instrument on human rights, transnational corporations and other business enterprises. The Forum demands the establishment of monitoring mechanisms that include the supervision of extraterritorial obligations of transnational corporations.(FIAN)

Tax Havens and the Taxation of Transnational Corporations

Report
June 21, 2013

Tax avoidance and tax evasion by transnational companies and the role played by tax havens have recently received much media attention, when it transpired that prominent companies such as Starbucks and Apple pay virtually no income taxes on their massive international profits. The case of the world’s largest commodity trader, Glencore, demonstrates that tax evasion by multinationals also affects developing countries. Tax issues and the detrimental role played by tax havens are now firmly on the international policy agenda, for example at the G20. (Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung)

Head of WHO Criticizes "Big Business" and Its Role in Public Health

Article
June 12, 2013

The World Health Organization's head, Dr Margaret Chan, has heavily criticized how big business influences public health by way of a combination of lobbying, litigation and misleading representations of research. Dr Chan's remarks were part of her address to the 8th Global Conference on Health Promotion, held in Helsinki, Finland. Comments such as those made by Dr Chan are rather unusual for UN officials, raising the level of concern with regard to the relationship between public health and big business. (UN News Centre)

UN’s Water Agenda at Risk of Being Hijacked by Big Business

Article
February 11, 2013

The UN declared 2013 as the International Year of Water Cooperation in light of growing pressures on water resources and an increased need for cooperation. With World Water Day on March 22nd drawing close, former water advisor to the General Assembly Maude Barlow cautions against the growing influence of the private sector in water related matters within the UN. Through participation in the World Water Development Report and the CEO Water Mandate of the UN Global Compact, water conglomerates are able to exert greater influence on global water policies. This contradicts the 2010 UN recognition of the human right to water and sanitation. Tom Slaymaker of WaterAid draws attention to the 780 million people without access and calls for reassessment of the partnerships needed for achieving universal access after the MDGs expire in 2015. (IPS)

Without Rules: A Failed Approach to Corporate Accountability

Essay
January 31, 2013

Reports on human rights violations by corporations operating globally raise concerns about the effectiveness of existing oversight measures. Human Rights Watch argues that voluntary approaches are inadequate as they encourage ad-hoc actions against human rights violations by both corporation and government, advocating for enforceable standards and greater government oversight. States where companies are based are responsible for safeguarding extra-territorial human rights, particularly when the host country government lacks the necessary capacity to scrutinize operations. While the 2012 UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights raise good options, the principles themselves are less ambitious than other human rights standards and do not require mandatory commitments. Anti-bribery approaches employed by the UN and OECD and increasing corporate disclosure are good starting points for improving corporate accountability. (Human Rights Watch)

2012

Industry Pays for Seat at the Food-Policy Table

Report
October 19, 2012

This Reuters’ report sheds light on the increasing influence of the private sector in policy-making at the World Health Organization. WHO now promotes "industry-led self-regulation" as an alternative to legal standard-setting. Leading food and beverage corporations participate in the decision-making of WHO’s approach to nutrition and Coca-Cola, Nestle, and Unilever largely fund projects and conferences. Not to mention that some WHO advisers have strong ties to the industry. Such association is particularly visible in Mexico, the country with both the world’s highest rate of obese adults and the highest consumption of Coca-Cola. While the UN promotes corporate responsibility by championing its Global Compact, this “partnership” with the industry raises serious concerns about the ability of the organization to remain impartial and impervious. (Reuters)

Overseas Cash and the Tax Games Multinationals Play

Article
October 3, 2012

This article shows how US corporations use foreign subsidiaries in low-tax jurisdictions to minimize tax on their global income. The subsidiaries hold their profits overseas indefinitely without being taxed in the US as repatriated income. US parent companies abuse this legal “grey area” when they organize buy-backs, acquisitions and deployment of their working capital. To avoid taxes, corporations are deliberately organizing their finances in a complex, wasteful and abusive way, which seriously decreases oversight and transparency as well as emptying the national treasury. (New York Times)

Should the Development Community Beware Corporates Bearing Gifts?

Article
August 7, 2012

UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon has appointed Unilever’s CEO Paul Polman to a UN panel on the post-2015 development agenda. As more businesses realize they can benefit from “development,” the UN has been reaching out to the private sector’s resource and technical capacity. However, “just because there’s a business case for development doesn’t necessarily mean there is a development case for business”— development by consumer-driven capitalism is not sustainable, does not reach the poorest of the poor, and could be tokenism for profit-driven businesses. (Guardian)

NAFTA on Steroids

Article
June 27, 2012

As the United States and eight Pacific Rim nations are negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement in San Diego, critics are saying that TPP is mainly about new corporate rights, not trade. The negotiations and their texts are open only to government negotiators and a selected group of about 600 corporate lobbyists. Through such secretive process, the officials in charge of the TPP can ensure the completion of controversial clauses such as financial deregulation in the Pacific Rim and establishment of corporate tribunals which permit transnational corporations to overrule local courts and other government agencies in disputes. The implementation of the TPP will only serve to strengthen corporate power at the expense of the public. (The Nation)

Reclaim the UN from Corporate Capture

Report
June 19, 2012

This report by Friends of the Earth International reveals the increasing influence of major corporations and business lobby groups within the UN. The UN’s willingness to partner with businesses undermines the UN’s ability to address the role of major corporations in causing environmental, social and economic problems. The report focuses on the “greenwashing” of the global economy through the concept of “Green Economy,” questionable accountability of the Sustainable Energy for All (SE4ALL) initiative, promotion of business interests at the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), “financialization” of nature in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), “commodification” of water, and the Global Compact “bluewashing” unaccountable corporations. (Friends of the Earth International)

Occupying Corporations: How to Cut Corporate Power

Article
February 26, 2012

Corporations have hijacked most of the rights of people while evading citizen’s responsibilities. The most recent corporate judicial takeover of constitutional rights is the US Supreme Court’s rule that corporations are protected by the first Amendment, being granted the right of free speech to advertise and influence elections. In this op-ed article, professor Bill Quigley argues that in order to strip corporations from personhood and cut them down in size, US national laws must be radically changed. (Common Dreams)

2011

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world

Article
October 24, 2011

The idea that a few transnational corporations (TNCs) control the global economy might not seem like news to the Occupy Wall Street movement. But now, an analysis by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich empirically identified such a network of power. By combining the mathematics long used to model natural systems with comprehensive corporate data to map ownership among 43,000 of the world's TNCs, the study reveals that a relatively small group of TNCs, mainly banks, control almost 80% of the global economy. As the world learned in 2008, the tight interconnections between the most powerful global players results in a highly unstable system. If one company suffers distress, this propagates. Science confirmed the protesters' worst fears. (New Scientist)



2010

Towards an International Tribunal on Economic Crimes

Article
July 20, 2010

Voluntary codes of conduct are not enough to stop large transnational corporations from abusing the environment and human rights. Crimes committed by TNCs often go unpunished since the concept of economic crimes has no international legal definition. To get past this problem, the Enlazando Alternativas network calls for the creation of an international tribunal on economic crimes. The network wants this sort of abuse labeled as "crimes against humanity." Though small steps are being made towards an international tribunal of this kind, the pace is painfully slow and so far, TNCs optional good-will rarely gets priority over profit. (Share the Worlds Resources)

Controlling Transnational Corporations

Article
March 31, 2010

According to the UN, most global trade is controlled by a few hundred corporations. Many of these mega-corporations are economically larger than some nations and thus it is difficult for developing countries to regulate them. Since the United State is home to many of the world's largest TNCs, stronger regulation in the US is key in enforcing international standards that promote the social and economic rights of those in developing countries. One of the steps towards controlling TNCs is for the United States to ratify UN and ILO conventions that promulgate labor rights and consumer protection. (FPIF)



 

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