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 PAG was formed after the 2014 ESCR-Net Peoples’ Forum on Human Rights & Business where corporate capture was highlighted by members as a priority issue to address as a 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.

In 2015 and 2017, the PAG met in Mexico, co-hosted by ESCR-Net and PODER, to develop key objectives and a work plans.  An overview of initial outcomes  was prepared for the 2017 strategy meeting.


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 on 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.