Corporate influence and accountability

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Corporate actors – be they companies, their associations, foundations, or employees - play an ever increasing role in global, international and national policy making. They are regarded a source for finance for international organizations, for public service provision or infrastructure investments. They influence policy making on all levels as well as international discourses around issues like health, human rights, or tax.

This section looks at the role corporations play on various levels of governance. It highlights and analyzes the influence of corporate actors in various policy arenas and highlights the specific role of private philanthropic foundations. Are there potentially negative repercussions for relying too heavily on the private sector? And what could be the limits of and alternatives to the trend in establishing more and more so-called “partnerships” between the public and private sectors?

One specific focus in our work on corporations is following various processes that are aimed at creating binding norms for transnational corporations, especially in the area of business and human rights.

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UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré CC BY-SA 2.0

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. [...]

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 [...]
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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, [...]
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Young FoEE/Simona Getova CC BY-SA 2.0

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 [...]

Model clauses for a UN Treaty on transnational corporations, other businesses and human rights

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 [...]
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Young FoEE/Simona Getova (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Civil Society Letter to the IPCC Chair, Dr. Hoesung Lee and the IPCC Bureau

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 [...]

The case of the B20 and transnational business networks

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 [...]

Model clauses for a UN Treaty on transnational corporations, other businesses and human rights. Study commissioned by CIDSE to Prof. Dr. Markus Krajewski, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. March 2017

The present 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. Part II recalls the main areas of potential conflict between trade and investment [...]

UN expert body takes new steps to prevent corporate tax abuses, but more is needed to ensure companies pay their fair share and stop depleting the resources needed to realize human rights.

Blog by Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR)
 
Last week in Geneva the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights – a UN human rights body – held a discussion of its draft General Comment on State obligations in the context of business activities. This General [...]
The General Assembly hall
The General Assembly hall
Photo: Patrick Gruban/flickr

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

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. The resolution sets out the ICC’s position as observer in the General Assembly from 1 January 2017 on. Granting observer status to the ICC risks to further strengthen the power of big business and widens the imbalance between corporate interests and civil society [...]

Advancing investigations and prosecutions in human rights cases

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.

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 [...]