About Corporate Capture

By using corporate influence to soften regulation, weaken regulatory powers, bank-roll elections, utilize state security services against communities, exercise revolving-door employment strategies and many other practices, the ever deepening corporate-government relationship is weakening the State institutions and processes that are responsible for ensuring they can respect, protect and fulfill human rights.  Conceptually, 'corporate capture' refers to the means by which an economic elite undermine the realization of human rights and the environment by exerting undue influence over domestic and international decision-makers and public institutions. In this sense, corporate capture acts as a ‘root cause’ of many corporate human rights abuses.

The Corporate Capture Project of the ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group challenges corporate capture by researching, raising awareness and supporting collective action to address this phenomenon.  The project is led by a regionally and gender diverse Project Advisory Group (PAG) made up of ESCR-Net members.  The members of this PAG are Above Ground (Canada), CNS (India), Defend Job (Philippines), Habi Center for Environmental Rights (Egypt), PODER (Mexico), Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food.  The PAG was formed after the 2014 ESCR-Net Peoples’ Forum on Human Rights & Business where corporate capture was again highlighted by members as a priority issue to address as it is a major root cause of corporate-related human rights violations. An initial Scoping Report into a series of case studies of corporate capture was prepared for the Peoples’ Forum corporate capture session.

In January 2015, the PAG met in Mexico, co-hosted by ESCR-Net and PODER, to engage in an in-depth discussion of the vision of the Corporate Capture Project, the development of key objectives for 2015 and 2016 and a work plan for the first year in the project.  The main trajectory of the project designed by the PAG relates to the following five phases:

Conceptualisation

From a human rights perspective, clearly define the concept of corporate capture in a way that appeals easily to as broad a range of groups and individuals as possible, starting with national and sub-national civil society organisations, including movements.

Research & Analysis

In a coordinated way document and order information on as many cases of corporate capture as possible, and analyse the characteristics of corporate capture that are documented.

Packaging the Idea

Develop sophisticated online messaging and information sources for the Project, and develop a suite of appealing communications products that will increase the amount of interest in the project, and the ways groups can address corporate capture.

Promotion & Awareness Raising

Maximise the opportunities to elevate awareness of corporate capture and the ways groups are addressing it, including raising awareness at international human rights, labor union, media and other gatherings, attracting media attention through prizes for best coverage of corporate capture cases, etc.

Facilitating Support for Action

Build a community of CSOs working in different ways to stop corporate capture to facilitate cross-regional sharing of strategies and support for action and connect groups together that would mutually benefit from actively collaborating.

A full meeting report is available of the meeting in Mexico. 

Overall the strong leadership of the PAG has resulted so far in the development of a broad vision for the project, and the steering of collective action, ensuring action on an key collective priority of the membership of the ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group. The PAG welcomes the involvement in this project of any interested ESCR-Net member or partners.  To seek interest about engaging in this project please contact Alexandra Montgomery amontgomery@escr-net.org.