Members deepen corporate accountability alliance in Buenos Aires

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

On 20 March 2019, ESCR-Net members,Fundación Promoción Humana, Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos (FOCO) and Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales (CELS) met with partner organizations and labor union leaders to explore opportunities to strengthen accountability for human rights violations involving corporate actors.

The meeting analyzed how the current context favors transnational corporation, giving them unprecedented powers, which results in serious human rights violations, often with State complicity.

Additionally, the meeting also touched upon the serious damages to the environment caused by extractive activities as well as the undue influence of corporation on democratic institutions, referred to by ESCR-Net members as corporate capture, and tax evasion by these corporations.

Groups also highlighted the role of corporations in the increasing levels of violence perpetrated against human rights defenders, particularly those defending land, environment and indigenous rights.

Participants explored the existing legal framework, which currently consists of many multilateral or bilateral agreements between countries of economic, commercial or financial character. The rights of people are too often subject to the good (or bad) will of transnational corporations, whereas the rights of transnational corporations are protected in international courts.

Facing this panorama, the importance of a treaty regarding human rights and business is even more clear. The meeting also discussed the obstacles that the home countries of transnational corporations impose on the treaty process and the importance of the continued, active involvement of civil society, including labor unions, in the process to work towards a strong binding treaty.

To strengthen the work of civil society organizations and labor unions around issues of corporate accountability in Argentina, it was proposed to establish a commission or working group of organizations to work in a coordinated manner, using the national and international legal frameworks as well as supporting the development of an international treaty to confront human rights violations committed by transnational and other corporations.