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Interview with Anne van Schaik of the Dismantle Corporate Power Campaign of Friends of the Earth Europe on the mobilization week in Geneva against impunity and corporate crimes.
While Palestinian, Nigerian and Guatemalan people share their testimonies about the effects of transnational corporations on their communities at the Permanent Peoples´ Tribunal, which will analyze the behavior of half a dozen corporations and will mobilize different organizations aiming at a binding protocol for human rights violations, European Union countries have clearly stated that they reject a binding proposal and that will put international cooperation at risk if any regulation against their companies is approved.
There have been discussions about the behavior of transnational corporations in the framework of the United Nations for quite some time. These discussions resulted in 2011 in the “Guiding Principles” that gathered several years of discussions in response to the clear need for some principles to guide the actions of companies. However, the “voluntary” nature of these principles made it clear from the beginning that they were not enough to control the actions of companies (which in most cases their income is higher than the GDPs of the countries where they operate).
Anne van Schaik of Friends of the Earth Europe, who recently participated in a series of dialogues with governmental representatives in Geneva in the days before the Mobilization Week and in the framework of the 26th Session of the Human Rights Council, said that for instance, Germany has made it clear that it will spend two more years in developing an action plan for these “Guiding Principles”, which clearly represents a lack of commitment.
The decision to organize a PPT precisely in Geneva by the Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity Campaign aims to raise awareness on the governments present at the Council about the consequences of some companies, such as oil company Shell in Nigeria, Spanish Hidralia in Guatemala or Israeli Mekorot that privatized water in Palestinian territories, said Anne.
And also to underpin the proposal by Ecuador in 2013 supported by South Africa and over 80 countries because there is a long history of the change of will and decisions in the path to Geneva, more often than not to favor big capital more than the rights of communities. And even more when powerful countries act in favor of companies, without caring about the consequences of their actions, such as the case of the delegates of the European Union (EU) and the United States (US).
In the interview with Real World Radio, Anne said that the Friends of the Earth International federation believes that environmental right defenders are in fact human rights defenders, and that is why it is strategic to strengthen the work at the HRC.
She added that the Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity campaign strongly criticizes the role of investment protection treaties and free trade agreements against those countries that have made decisions against companies. This is the case of Ecuador with Chevron, Uruguay with Philip Morris and other emblematic cases. These states and their populations have been severely punished or are about to be punished through cases to be solved in the World Bank sphere.
The activist also said that the European public opinion has remained relatively marginal from the effects of companies and investment agreements. However this indifference can end when a free trade agreement the EU and the US, known as the TTIP is signed.
We don´t see any democratic control on this process and this has made the campaign against the TTIP grow rapidly, added Anne. Also, the member of Friends of the Earth considers that the campaign has been successful and the presence of people affected by transnational corporations in Geneva represent an important advance, in addition to receiving attention by key countries and being met with strong resistance by others.
Real World Radio, together with other alternative communication media will cover this week of mobilizations. You can support our coverage in the social media and help spread the word with #StopCorporateImpunity
It’s been a long road in fight against corp HR abuse. Let’s add "2014: Res to create binding treaty passed at #HRC26" http://t.co/ZsxZ9kLqqY
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