In line with our struggle to defend peasants’ rights and promote Food Sovereignty,  ECVC is supporting the campaign calling on the EU and Member States to end corporate privileges within free trade deals. Concretely, it demands an end to the ISDS and other special courts systems, present in many FTAs, where investors can sue a State if the latter passes any regulation that jeopardizes the corporations’ profits. 

 

This campaign is a means to pressure our governments to withdraw from existing trade and investment agreements containing ISDS and other mechanisms undermining people’s rights.

 

More details by following this link  –> https://stopisds.org/action/

 

Lastly, it calls on the EU and Member States to support the achievement of a UN binding treaty to hold transnational corporations accountable for human rights violations. In this UN process, la Via Campesina has been actively involved for the last years. More info on that here .

 

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Press release co-signed by the La Confederation Paysanne and 16 other organisations alerting candidates for the European elections about the duty of vigilance of multinationals

 

 

Six years after the Rana Plaza tragedy in Bangladesh, the campaign continues to impose a binding framework on multinationals. Based on a European petition that has already collected more than 550,000 signatures in three months, the campaign “Rights for peoples, rules for corporations” aims to mobilize citizens to put an end to the investment arbitration system and obtain significant advances in international law in order to guarantee access to justice for populations affected the abuses of multinational companies.

 

On April 24, 2013, in Bangladesh, the Rana Plaza collapsed. The fall of the 8-storey building that housed 6 textile factories killed 1,138 women workers and injured more than 2,000. This is the most serious accident to date in the globalized textile industry. The victims manufactured clothing for Western brands or distributors.

 

While a compensation fund was quickly set up under the aegis of the ILO, at the initiative of NGOs and international trade unions, it took two years of international mobilization for the multinationals concerned to join it. In the absence of legal constraints, corporate contributions were voluntary. And some of them did not want to contribute to it because they did not want to acknowledge their responsibility in this disaster.

 

In the end, the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund reached $30 million, divided among the 3000 individuals and families directly affected. But to really obtain justice, with damages proportional to the damage suffered, we’re still at the starting block. Starting with the parent companies and ordering companies, this is an impossible task if the international normative framework is not changed.

 

Impunity can no longer last, the rules must change. The law on the duty of vigilance, promulgated in France in 2017, should serve as an example. These obligations must now be enshrined in European and international law.

 

The campaign “Rights for peoples, rules for multinationals” brings together associations, trade unions and social movements from more than 15 European countries.

 

The main objectives are as follows:

  • Revoke investor-State arbitration clauses in all existing trade and investment treaties, and refuse to allow future treaties to include similar arbitration clauses.
  • Support the negotiation and ratification of a UN treaty on multinationals and human rights, adopt a European directive on the duty of vigilance, and ensure that the French law on the duty of vigilance is effectively applied.

 

At a time when the EU has just decided to put its participation in UN negotiations on hold and is increasing the number of trade and investment agreements, campaign organisations are calling on candidates for the European elections to commit themselves to reversing this trend once they are elected.

 

 

Press contacts:

 

About Rana Plaza:

Nayla Ajaltouni (Ethical Collective on the label), n.ajaltouni@ethique-sur-etiquette.org, 06.62.53.53.34.56

 

About the campaign:

Louis Moreau (CCFD-Terre Solidaire), l.moreau@ccfd-terresolidaire.org, 07.80.35.69.00

Juliette Renaud (Friends of the Earth), juliette.renaud@amisdelaterre.org, 06.37.65.65.56.40

Mathilde Dupré (Institut Veblen), dupre@veblen-institute.org, 06.77.70.49.55

Maxime Combes (AITEC), maxime.combes@gmail.com, 06.24.24.51.29.44

 

 

Note to the editors

 

End investor-state arbitration

 

Investor-state arbitration emerged in 1965 at the initiative of the World Bank, in the context of decolonization, to protect the large corporations of the former imperial powers from any attempt to nationalize and expropriate their assets in the former colonies.

 

This mechanism allowing investors to sue states through a parallel justice system has grown since the 1990s and its inclusion in NAFTA. It is now present in more than 3300 international agreements, including more than 1400 concluded by EU Member States, including some among themselves (196). The number of such agreements continues to grow. No area is spared by companies and investors in their ability to attack governments. To date, 904 arbitration cases have been identified in various areas such as health, taxation, the environment or wage levels. Sometimes, the mere threat of arbitration deters States from legislating, as was the case in France with the Hulot law on hydrocarbons, which was stripped of its substance.

 

Empowering multinationals

 

On 27 March 2017, France promulgated the “law on the duty of vigilance of parent companies and ordering companies”, known as the “law on the duty of vigilance”. This law marks a historic step in the protection of human rights and the environment by requiring French companies to prevent human rights and environmental abuses that may result from their activities and those of their subsidiaries, suppliers and subcontractors around the world. Unique in the world, the law on the duty of vigilance is part of a rapidly evolving international legal framework. At the European and UN level, various initiatives are underway to make multinationals accountable to tribunals. Thus, a draft treaty has been under negotiation at the UN since 2015, a process supported by a strong mobilization of international civil society.

 

Text of the petition “Rights for peoples, rules for multinationals”

 

“To the Presidents of the European Commission and the Council of the EU, the representatives of the Member States and the European Parliament.

 

Trade and investment agreements now give multinational companies exorbitant rights and access to a parallel justice system to protect them.

 

We call on the European Union and its Member States to end these privileges by revoking investor-state arbitration clauses in existing trade and investment agreements and refraining from concluding such agreements in the future.

 

We also call on the European Union and its Member States to support the ongoing negotiations at the United Nations for the adoption of a binding treaty on multinational companies and human rights, ending their impunity.

 

The European Union and its Member States must enshrine in their legislation obligations for multinational companies to respect human rights and the environment in their activities and operations worldwide.

 

Victims of damage and violations whose human rights are violated by companies must have access to justice. »

 

 

 

Photo: @TheNation