Characteristics of Corporate Capture

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. The elements of corporate capture identified by the research for this project so far include:

Community Manipulation

Community manipulation refers to the corporate undermining of community decision-making processes related to an investment project.  The strategies employed involve the use of financial or other incentives to entice community leaders to support corporate projects that undermine the interests and decisions of the wider community. At times these strategies involve the use of alcohol, offers of employment, financial rewards and/or intimidation to secure leaders' approvals.     

Case study: Addax Bioenergy in Sierra Leone 

Economic Diplomacy

The economic diplomacy dimension of corporate capture refers to support from diplomatic missions which advance the interests of corporations from their countries operating in foreign countries in cases where these actions are at the expense of the human rights of local people. In its worst form diplomatic missions have defended the questionable activities and provided further support for 'their' corporations when they become implicated in serious human rights violations in foreign countries.     

Case study: Blackfire in Mexico 

Judicial Interference

Judicial interference is the influence corporations exert over the proceedings and rulings of courts which provide favourable outcomes for corporations and undermine due process and efforts at seeking access to remedy and accountability. Judicial interference has been facilitated at corporate-sponsored gatherings for judicial officials, and at other times when corporations have exerted influence over their 'home' states to intervene on legal cases involving corporate-human rights violations to argue in favour of the interests of the corporate defendants.   

Case studies: Rio Tinto & Shell in the UK; Febraban, Petrobas, the National Union of Distributors of Fuel & Lubricants, Souza Cruz, Electrobas and Etco in Brazil. 

Legislative & Policy Interference 

Legislative & Policy interference refers to pressure exerted on legislatures and policy makers by corporations and their representatives to provide greater opportunities for business, or remove/undermine regulation of corporate activities, which ultimately undermine the protection of human rights. Among other forms of interfence, these activities often include provision of campaign or other donations to elected officials in return for draft legislation or votes during parliamentary proceedings favourably to the interests of corporations. 

Case studies: Financial Sector in the US; Breastmilk substitute industry in the Philippines; BHP in Papua New Guinea. 

Privatising Public Security Services 

Privatising the use of public security services involves the provision of a salary or other inducements by corporations for police, army or other public security services to act in their interest against local communities. The activities these state security services often provide for corporations are confronting demonstrators, gathering intelligence on local communities and intimidating opponents of corporate projects.    

Case study: Newmont Mining in Peru  

Revolving Door

'Revolving Door' as a component of corporate capture refers to the movement of employees from the corporate sector to public regulators and other agencies, and vice versa, in the process undermining the impartiality of state agencies, facilitating corporate-friendly regulation and policy, lessening the application of existing regulations and securing favourable corporate contracts with state agencies.   

Case study: Agribusiness in Colombia; Financial Sector in the US