Citizens' groups demand an end to the impunity of transnational corporations through an International People’s Treaty

Brussels, 5 September 2013

Civil society groups, trade unions, affected communities and MEP’s, will gather at a conference in Brussels later this week to urge the EU to promote an International People’s Treaty & International Tribunal that regulates transnational corporations and investments for the public interest.

The collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh that killed 1,132 workers and left thousands injured for life – the majority of them women, as well as the massacre of 34 striking miners in the Lonmin PLc Platinum mine in Marakana (South Africa) are two recent examples of how the operations of transnational corporations result in the flagrant violation of human rights. Rehad Desai Chairperson of the Marikana Support Campaign (South Africa) urges: “We need to end transnational corporations negligence and impunity. The Marikana massacre is a devastating but clear demonstration of the deadly links between corporate power and repression, all in the name of increasing corporate profits. We demand that the State guarantee the right of workers and victims’ families to justice, which means providing them with adequate resources and access to the justice system”.

These are far from isolated cases, as shown by other recent examples of local communities in Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Brazil, Philippines and Indonesia having their fundamental rights violated by transnational corporations.on a systematic and ongoing basis. This is facilitated and protected by an architecture of impunity built on Free Trade & Investment Agreements. It is clear that the voluntary codes of conduct advocated in the UN's Corporate Social Responsibility Guiding Principles put forward by transnational corporations are not tackling accountability for human rights violations. The EU's current approach of promoting social and environmental reporting by transnational corporations is also inadequate and needs to be replaced with binding, legally enforcable corporate accountability rules.

Gabi Zimmer, the President of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left - European Parliamentary Group (GUE/NGL), says: “At present, EU governments are not taking any responsibility when it comes to regulating the operations of transnational corporations overseas. We urgently need a trans-national framework of binding regulations to make companies active in third countries accountable”.

Brid Brennan from Transnational Institute (TNI) and member of the Global campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power says “It is time to put an end to corporate impunity and promote alternatives of accountability, such as the International People’s Treaty. This includes laying the basis to establish an International Court that will judge the social, economic, and ecological crimes of transnational corporations”.

These are among the key issues that will be addressed at the September 5th Round

Table organised at the European Parliament on “Challenging corporate power, investment and impunity in an era of crisis - Towards an International Peoples’ Treaty”.

The event is convened by the GUE/NGL Group in coordination with social movements and civil society networks such as the: Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power & End Impunity of Transnational Corporations, Bi-Regional Network ‘Enlazando Alternativas’, Transnational Institute (TNI), Observatory for Debt & Globalisation (ODG), Ecologistas en Acción, War on Want, OMAL - Paz con Dignidad, OIDHACO, CADTM and Seattle-to-Brussels Network.

The Round Table will have the participation of Mrs Gabi Zimmer, President of the European United Left - Nordic Green Left - European Parliamentary Group (GUE/NGL), Juan Ramon Quintana, the Bolivian Ministry of the Presidency, MEP's from several Parliamentary Groups and key actors of social movements from Latin America, Africa and Asia, Europe as well as trade unions, affected communities, human rights and juridical experts.

Some of the speakers and participants will be taking part in the press conference convened on Thursday, September 5, 2013 at 14.00 in Room ASP 5G2, European Parliament BXL.