In 2019, after just seven years of organizing and advocacy work, the treaty started to become a reality. TNI’s Corporate Power programme develops analysis and proposals on how to end corporate impunity and dismantle corporate power. A major vehicle for our work is the international Stop Corporate Impunity Campaign (Campaign), launched at Rio+20 in 2012. It is a loose network comprised of 238 organisations representing 260 million people, located primarily in the Global South. TNI has served as the main anchor of the Campaign, and has supported regional coordination hubs for Southern Africa, Asia and South America. The Campaign ensures the voices of affected communities are heard and amplified, and mobilizes international solidarity. In 2019, this included organization of a ‘toxic tour’ of Mexico involving members of the European Parliament and US Senate. The Campaign has sought to involve a broad range of social agents – including trade unions, farmers’ organizations, people’s health advocates, environmental activists, feminists and women’s organizations. It has also catalysed an expanding international network of parliamentary supporters; a supportive network of legal experts, and is working on consolidating an international network of observatories. Following extensive consultations, the Campaign has facilitated the collation of proposals for what members would like to see in a prospective Treaty, and distilled key demands. These have been fed into the official process through advocacy efforts undertaken by members at national level as well as in Geneva, and the organization of side events and the submission of written and oral statements during the UN talks in Geneva. For the first time, in 2019 the Campaign convened an informal policy dialogue with sympathetic governments ahead of negotiations in Geneva.
TNI also played an important role in convening the broader Treaty Alliance of civil society organizations in 2014, with which the Campaign has coordinated strategies since. Together, we have campaigned for a mechanism by which transnational corporations would be held accountable for human rights abuses and violations of international human rights law. In 2019, after just seven years of organizing and advocacy work, the treaty started to become a reality.
In 2019, we also invested in “Futures Labs” to study the increasing displacement of multilateralism by multistakeholderism at global governance level, and state capture by corporations at national levels.
The key results to which TNI contributed significantly in 2019 include:
- 9 governments participate in an informal policy dialogue ahead of the Geneva negotiations, with two emerging as strong champions for the treaty
- 89 UN member states and 2 non-member states, along with a record number of civil society organizations, participated in the negotiations on the first revision of the draft treaty. China sent its most senior delegation to the talks to date.
- African states – led by South Africa and Namibia – presented a strong unified front in favour of the treaty.
- 847000 people of Europe signed a petition supporting a treaty and against the investment dispute regime, which was presented to the EU representative during the Treaty talks.
- The EU participated constructively for the first time in the treaty negotiations, mounting a strong defence of ongoing civil society participation against moves by authoritarian governments to exclude civil society.
- 18 more sitting parliamentarians joined the 333-strong Global Inter-parliamentary Network (GIN) now spanning 23 countries, which broadened its base to more green and social democratic parties. GIN had a visible presence in Geneva, organizing a side event attracting representatives from 15 states.
- GIN efforts saw a resolution passed in favour of the treaty in the Mercosur Parliament.
- 6 new members joined the Campaign, including from Benin, El Salvador and a Latin American network concerned with access to medicine.
- The Mexican toxic tour was strongly covered in national media, directly engaged the Minister of Environment, and resulted in one destructive project being cancelled.
- 400 organisations signed up to a letter protesting the strategic partnerships between the UN and the World Economic Forum in respect of the Sustainable Development Goals, a move many saw as outsourcing UN responsibilities to transnational corporations.