How a Peoples’ Campaign at the UN Is Challenging Corporate Rule

Published by TNI here; authored by Brid Brennan and Gonzalo Berrón entitled Touching A Nerve; How a peoples’ campaign at the United Nations is challenging corporate rule

Since 2015, there has been an annual negotiation at the United Nations’ Palais des Nations in Geneva that touches the very nerve centre of corporate capitalism. This event stems from the June 2014 United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Resolution 29/6 that set up an intergovernmental working group to elaborate a legally binding instrument to regulate transnational corporations. It was a historic initiative as it demonstrated that corporate rule – which many still see as unquestionable – can be challenged and confronted. 

It is, unsurprisingly, a negotiation that has been contested every step of the way, revealing the often conflicting – but sometimes coinciding – interests among the three major actors: states, corporations and the affected communities, social movements and civil society organisations (CSOs). 

This trajectory sees the convergence of diverse paths.

For states – assuming a new historic responsibility to put a Binding Treaty in place that addresses the acknowledged gap in human rights law, the architecture of corporate power and impunity, and access to justice. For corporations, the repeated defence of the status quo – legitimising corporate violations of human rights and profits before peoples’ rights. And for affected communities and social movements – persistent resistance, building law from below and sustaining pressure on  governments. 

Ever since transnational corporations (TNCs) became major global actors, affected communities, factory workers and social movements have resisted this corporate economic model.

By 2000, communities and workers worldwide had protested against TNC crimes – including such iconic cases as the Union Carbide pesticide plant’s poisonous gas leak in Bhopal in 1984; Shell’s ruptured pipeline in Bodo Nigeria (2008–2009); Chevron’s dumping of crude oil in Ecuador (1964–1992); European Corporations’ (Fossil Fuels/Energy, Agriculture & Manufacturing) blocking of significant reductions in COemissions; and British Petroleum’s (BP) Deep Water Horizon explosion (April 2010) in the Gulf of Mexico.

At the heart of the matter is an illegal, unconstitutional and inapplicable judgement that contravenes international public order. Pablo Fajardo and Justino Piaguaje, lawyer and representative of the Union of those affected by the Chevron-Texaco (UDAPT) respectively, explain how this ruling violates Ecuadorian sovereignty and constitutes a major case of corporate impunity that risks setting dangerous precedents for the defence of the natural world and of collective human rights. @TerraJusta

While the resistance of affected communities has been a constant challenge to the operations of TNCs and their human rights violations, it was the joint convening of the Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) Sessions by the Hemispheric Social Alliance (HSA) and the Enlazando Alternativas on European Corporations in Latin America (2004–2010) that kick-started a new process of bringing the different movements together and developing a shared analysis of the corporate violations of human rights.

In the process of sharing experiences of 46 cases in three sessions, they not only pointed to the specific corporate violations of human rights but also identified their systemic character.

The verdicts identified an ‘architecture of impunity’, generated by different trade and investment agreements and the global institutions of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, that legitimised and prioritised protections and privileges to corporations over the human rights of communities and workers.

This notably includes the Investor to State Dispute System (ISDS) whereby TNCs can unilaterally sue states for actions that affect their profits. The PPT Judgement in Madrid in May 2010 concluded that the human rights of people in Latin America and Europe faced an impenetrable wall of impunity and denial of justice in relation to TNCs’ operations. It noted that Global Corporate Rule had become entrenched – privileging profits above peoples’ rights and the protection of the planet.

For further reading, please link here.

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The Crowd vs. Chevron Oil Spill in Ecuador

Amazon people want access to justice in the Supreme Court of Canada for the reparation of their lands. Read more…

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DW: Uganda detains 16 LGBT+ activists under anti-gay law

Originally published 24 October 2019, here, by Deutsche Welle (dw.com); Picture credit: Copyright Reuters; photograph by J. Rinaldi

The men were subject to forced anal examinations by police and detained on suspicion of engaging in homosexual acts. Gay sex is punishable by life in prison in Uganda and there are plans to introduce the death penalty.

A group of 16 LGBT+ activists have been arrested and subject to forced anal examinations by police in Uganda, according to a rights group on Thursday.

Copyright Picture-Alliance/AP; photographed by R. Vassie

Police confirmed the arrests, saying the men were detained after a “complaint from the public.” Gay acts and anal sex are illegal in Uganda and can be punishable with life imprisonment.

“Based on the medical examination report, it was established that the suspects were involved in sexual acts punishable under the penal code.”

Police spokesman Patrick Onyango told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The authorities also found lubricants, condoms, and anti-viral drugs while searching a charity located outside the capital, Kampala.

Sexual minorities face daily violence and discrimination in the African country of Uganda. Earlier this month, activists reported that a gay rights campaigner was bludgeoned to death. The latest arrests mark an escalation by the authorities, said Frank Mugisha of the Sexual Minorities Uganda.

“Normally we will hear of maybe one arrest of someone from the community under these anti-gay laws in one month, but it is really unusual to see 16 people charged like this.”

Frank Mugisha of the Sexual Minorities Uganda told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of the Reuters news agency.

Less than two weeks ago, Ugandan lawmakers re-introduced an anti-gay bill that would make the laws even more strict and criminalize the “promotion and recruitment” of homosexuality.

The legal draft has been dubbed “Kill the Gays” bill, as it could allow the death penalty for sexual offenses.

dj/stb (AP, Reuters)

Critical High Court Application Pushes for Mining Sector Compliance

On Wednesday, 11 September 2019, in the Pietermaritzburg High Court, South Africa, a strong legal team is determined to ensure the right to appeal the dismissal of GET & MCEJO’s application exposing Tendele coal mine’s lack of compliance with environmental laws and the Constitution, and to ensure the mining sector complies with the law.

MEDIA RELEASE – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Originally published 10 September, 2019, by SaveOurWilderness.org

Pietermaritzburg, South Africa – On Wednesday, 11 September 2019, at 9h00, the Application for Leave to Appeal last year’s ruling in favour of Tendele Coal Mining (Pty) is set to be heard in the Pietermaritzburg High Court.

On 20 November 2018, Judge Rishi Seegobin dismissed the application by the Global Environmental Trust (GET), Sabelo Dladla, a 24-year old activist who grew up next to the Tendele mine, and the Mfolozi Community Environmental Justice Organisation (MCEJO) that challenged Tendele’s non-compliance with environmental, planning, waste management authorisations, and cultural heritage legislation.

The judge ordered GET and MCEJO to pay the legal costs of the mine.

Setting

Tendele mine is situated 6 km away from the iMfolozi Wilderness Area, part of the historic Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park (HiP) and a sanctuary for rhinos for 110 years, drawing thousands of local and foreign visitors every year. The mine has been operating since 2007 without any environmental authorisations or a waste management licence.

At the time of the judgment last year, attorney Catherine Horsfield, who represents the Cape Town-based Centre for Environmental Rights (CER), expressed concern that the ruling has broad national implications. Specifically she stated that it “may open the door” for companies to disregard environmental laws and safeguards in the Constitution of South Africa. Ms. Horsfield also considered the judge’s punitive costs ordered against two community-based environmental groups to have a “chilling” legal effect. She feared it might negatively impact other vulnerable peoples from instituting public-interest litigation against powerful mining companies. CER has applied to be amicus curiae (or friends of the court for MCEJO and GET) in the Application for Leave to Appeal. Ms. Horsfield and advocate Max du Preez will attend the hearing to provide additional information to the court.

The legal team that will represent Mr. Dladla, GET and MCEJO on 11 September include lead attorney, Kirsten Youens, assisted by Janice Tooley Attorneys, EIA specialists; Johan Lorenzen of Richard Spoor Attorneys; and advocates Mawande Mazibuko and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi. The team is determined to obtain leave to appeal Judge Seegobin’s ruling in the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein.

Two independent publications, one by the South African Human Rights Commission and the other by Human Rights Watch, cited Tendele as one of the mines disregarding the human rights of mining affected communities in SA, with the Somkhele/ Mpukunyoni residents being one of them.

This will open the way to achieving support from the South African courts into greater compliance by the mining sector. And, this court case gives an opportunity to South Africa’s judicial system to the coal mining sector that companies in breach of the country’s laws and regulations.

With the Global Climate Strike taking place on 20 September 2019, there is strong evidence of increasing momentum to hold companies and governments to account and to put pressure on them to reduce fossil fuel expansion and dependence in order to prevent the increasing threat of devastating climate impacts.

Wednesday 11 September 2019 offers an opportunity for South Africa to demonstrate alignment with this international trend for sustainability.

CONTACT:  Kirsten Youens, youens@youensattorneys.co.za or Sabelo Dladla, sabelodladla1@gmail.com.

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The Crowd vs. Destructive Mining in Zululand

Coal companies and the South African government have to stop with coal mining that puts Zululand and its people in danger and threatens the world’s greatest concentration of rhinos in the wilderness area of the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve.  Read more …

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(2) Zal rechtvaardigheid de vervuiler te verplichten te betalen voor de schade aan het milieu en de mensen?

Als uw antwoord positief is, steun alstublieft de strijd van deze Ecuadoraanse gemeenschappen door hen te helpen toegang te krijgen tot het Hooggerechtshof van Canada.

Hun overwinning zal uw overwinning zijn!

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