Collective Work

Debt is a manifestation of neoliberal capitalism and its crises. The current waves of debt accumulation have been an increasingly central phenomenon of the global economy since the 19th Century with the development of sovereign debt as a powerful tool for colonial empire-building. This led to the expansion of capital markets by creditors from industrialized countries who saw an opportunity to invest heavily abroad for profits. This background document on debt and corporate capture attempts to help members understand the current global debt crisis, the structural drivers and the role private financial actors/corporations have played in deepening the crisis while putting profits ahead of peoples rights and well-being.

ESCR-Net is thrilled to launch the comic entitled “The Power of the 99% to Stop Corporate Capture and Debt”(available in English, French, Arabic, and Spanish,) a political education tool to spur discussion and deepen understanding of the root causes of debt and its colonial legacies, the role of corporate capture as a driver of the debt crisis, and the intersection with other issues such as the care and climate crises. Ultimately, this comic strives to inspire action to confront corporate capture and the economic models imposed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and private creditors, which prioritize creditors' profits and corporate interests at the expense of human rights, including the right to a clean and healthy environment.

ESCR-Net - International Network of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) condemns the recent Israeli government attacks on Syrian Arab residents in the occupied Syrian Golan who are resisting the ongoing expansion of a wind-farm development criticized as an example of green-washing the occupation spearheaded by corporate actors. This is all too familiar for many ESCR-Net members who have faced similar struggles in the name of so-called green energy development, including in conflict-affected areas and occupied territory. We express our solidarity with ESCR-Net member Al-Marsad Arab Human Rights Center in Golan-Heights and the wider Syrian community in occupied Syrian Golan who continue to resist in the face of violent dispossession. 

ESCR-Net - International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, coordinated by ESCR-Net’s Corporate Accountability Working Group, submitted remarks to the UN open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises, reaffirming its support for a legally binding instrument based on the third revised draft, with stronger provisions for corporate accountability. ESCR-Net emphasizes the need for urgent action by States to stop corporate capture, end corporate impunity, and establish effective mechanisms for remedying and compensating affected communities, including historically marginalized groups, with comprehensive attention to gender and diversity considerations.

From 24 - 28 October, a delegation of ESCR-Net members attended the 8th session of the negotiations for a Legally Binding Instrument on business and human rights (OIGWG). Alongside allies, members advocated for an instrument to regulate corporate power, and also against corporate capture of the treaty process and of the UN more generally.

ESCR-Net members, the Treaty Alliance; the Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples' Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and End lmpunity; the Feminists for the Binding Treaty and the Young Friends of the Treaty (YouFT) thank States present and remember them the urgency to advance in the process towards the adoption of the Legally Binding lnstrument.

Several social movements and civil society organizations have invested and/or continue to invest time engaging in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) by participating in consultations and promotional platforms. Most recently, through ESCR-Net's submission on corporate capture to the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UNWG on BHR). After several years of engagement with the UNWG on BHR and in the UNGPs implementation process with its voluntary national action plans (NAPs), many have come to the same conclusion that the NAPs are not enough as a standalone tool for corporate accountability - particularly due to their voluntary nature.

As a critical complement to the UNGP process, we see it key that States mobilize their resources and efforts to champion the process to elaborate a legally binding instrument and, as a concrete first step, meaningfully and effectively engage in the Geneva intergovernmental negotiations from 24 - 28 October 2022. This year a delegation of members will be participating in Geneva's intergovernmental negotiations for a #BindingTreaty and will bring forward key demands the #BindingTreaty must address to #StopCorporateImpunity. Some of the key demands have been shaped by members' regional work, done in the lead up to the negotiations. 

As the pandemic and escalating climate crisis has exacerbated inequalities and reminded us of the centrality of care in our societies, ESCR-Net held a CSW66* parallel event entitled “Centering Care In a Feminist Intersectional Approach to Loss and Damage” (24 March 2022). During the event, women's rights advocates and feminist activists from across regions reflected on advancing action to ensure the rapid, equitable, ecologically sustainable, and just transition away from fossil fuels to a zero-carbon, regenerative care-based society focused on the well-being of people and the planet.

Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) are international agreements for the protection of intellectual property monopolies (including patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets etc.) monitored by the World Trade Organization (WTO). TRIPS obligates member states to...

Nearly 200 ESCR-Net members and allies joined together to amplify the voices of our communities who have been most affected by the inequalities exacerbated by the WTO’s refusal to pass a comprehensive waiver on the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement on COVID-19 vaccines and therapies.  

ESCR-Net, Movement Law Lab, and The People’s Vaccine Alliance and Médecins sans frontières /Doctors Without Borders co-sponsor the Online Global Rally to put pressure on the World Trade Organization (WTO) and States who refuse to pass a meaningful vaccine waiver on life-saving COVID-19 vaccines and therapies.