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10 July 2015 | | | |

Interview with Laurent Gaberell of the Europe-Third World Centre (CETIM)

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“Eight proposals for the international binding instrument on Transnational Corporations and Human rights” developed by the Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and End Impunity were presented this week in Geneva, Switzerland.

They were highlighted in the framework of the UN negotiations about a binding treaty to make transnational corporations respect human rights and the life of the people.
The collective working tool where the proposals were established had the permanent support of a wide range of organizations and processes, among them the Swiss organization Europe-Third World Centre (CETIM).

Real World Radio, through its correspondent Danilo Urrea*, talked in Geneva with Laurent Gaberell, member of the organization, about nature and the approach of the working paper.

About this, the activist highlighted that the proposals are mainly based on the Peoples Treaty developed by the Campaign in the past two years, with the participation of organizations and people affected by transnational corporations. “We´ve been witnesses of the globalization of production, of economic rules and Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), but there hasn´t been a parallel globalization of human rights rules, which results in impunity for transnational corporations that manage to avoid national laws and many times are more powerful than States themselves”, said Gaberell.

Aiming to deepen State obligations and human rights protections against corporate actions, proposals have been raised for States to effectively fulfill their role. “There is a main principle, which we call “extra-territorial obligations” related to the actions of corporations from other countries; another issue is related to FTAs and Investment Treaties”, said the member of CETIM. “An issue of concern is related to international arbitration tribunals; there are several examples of States that have tried to take measures in favor of human rights and have been sentenced by private arbitration tribunals”, he added. The activist considers that the legally binding treaty on transnational corporations and human rights should address this issue to prevent this.

Institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have been questioned for their role in the building of a financial architecture in favor of the corporate model and to the detriment of the rights of the peoples. Gaberell said “The World Bank and the IMF should also have obligations, because through their economic policies they are contributing to the impunity of transnational corporations”. “And we need to remember that these two are specialized UN agencies and as such, they are obliged to respect human rights and the UN Charter, which we know they don´t”. “We propose that the new binding treaty includes provisions related to these International Financial Institutions (IFIs) so that at least they don´t take measures against the pact´s objectives”, said Gaberell.

A key element of the eight proposals is the one that aims to take measures to avoid corporate influence in the entire binding treaty development process. Gaberell denounced that “transnational corporations are entering the UN, polluting the entire system and considering themselves as interested parties, when in fact they are criminals”. “We want these companies to not be able to participate directly in this negotiation process, we demand the voices of victims and affected peoples to be heard, and in no way allow transnational corporations to participate directly”, concluded the member of CETIM.

* Member of CENSAT Agua Viva – Friends of the Earth Colombia

Imagen: Victor Barro, Friends of the Earth Spain / Friends of the Earth International

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