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International peoples treaty on the control of transnational corporations

Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity | December 2014

International peoples treaty on the control of transnational corporations

Social movements, indigenous people, trade unionists, experts, activists and communities affected by the practices of transnational corporations have participated in the elaboration of this INTERNATIONAL PEOPLES TREATY ON THE CONTROL OF TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATIONS.

The main objective of this initiative is to subordinate the juridical-political architecture that sustains the power of transnational corporations to human rights norms and rules.

This Treaty was not designed according to the classical juridical logic of international law. Numerous institutional, social and trade union sources, as well as opinion tribunals and the experience of affected communities have confirmed the persistence of systematic human rights violations committed by transnational corporations in a regime of permissiveness, illegality and generalized impunity.

The Treaty aims to bring together the accumulated experience of various struggles against transnational corporations, and against States and financial institutions acting in complicity with TNCs. It is a collective effort.

The proposals of social movements and communities must take precedence over legal debates. They must also be able to interpret and propose international human rights norms “from below”.

The debate between technical and political aspects is directly pertinent to work to characterise control over transnational corporations. The technical language and specialised knowledge of experts masks the political nature of their interventions and their efforts to represent hegemonic interests, and tends to displace or distort the participation of social organisations, movements and communities.

A simplification of reality based on technical capacities, skills and processes, together with control over knowledge must not mark the Treaty’s future. Alternative proposals on controlling transnational corporations are not to be discussed only by law firms or international affairs experts. Fundamentally, they must be proposals from below.

To advance towards a Treaty to control transnational corporations, we must engage in confrontation and base our work in a very different kind of regulatory logic. This logic is reflected in the context, the background and the justification of the Peoples Treaty.

There are obvious difficulties in establishing precise obligations and harmonizing the numerous existing relevant norms in one single treaty: labour law; human rights law; humanitarian law; environmental law; consumer rights; corporate rights; the recognition of transnational corporations’ obligation to respect international human rights norms, and their civil and criminal liability in violations of these rights; the civil and criminal liability of their directors; the primacy of human rights and public interest over economic interests; the obligation of transnational corporations to pay their suppliers and subcontractors reasonable prices for their products and services; the creation of a World Court and regulations on extraterritorial obligations...touch upon a wide range of issues and the juridical logic underlying them varies significantly.

While these are not insurmountable difficulties from a legal-technical point of view, political will and a shift in the balance of power in favour of the peoples are needed to overcome them. The current international context demands that we decide between one of two possible road maps or paths: either we advance with a radically different framework in which the peoples and communities pressure for a binding framework to control transnational corporations, or we continue to deal with the condescending voluntarism of transnational corporations and bet on instruments like Corporate Social Responsibility, the Global Compact and the Ruggie framework, among others.

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 source: Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity