Why a treaty?
The International Peoples Treaty is above all a political document that emerges from the need to fight against the regime of extraordinary privileges and impunity of transnational corporations. The existence of this regime justifies the need for binding legal norms in order to stop corporate abuses and impunity. Even though “Treaty,” according to its strict legal definition, is a term that refers to a document signed by States, our vision is that we, besides states can make law: we defend the notion of an international law “from below.” Therefore, we use the word “Treaty” in a way that is radically different from the current legal norm.
What is the purpose of the Peoples Treaty (PT)?
The PT’s main purpose is to defend the rights of, and empower the peoples, especially those affected by the crimes and violations of transnational corporations. As such, the process to build the document is as important as the document itself. During the PT’s elaboration process (especially the consultations and assemblies), the peoples affected in various ways by the actions of transnational corporations:
1) will constitute the PT’s main driving force. We will express our demand for binding codes for corporations and an alternative legal and economic system through the PT;
2) will strengthen ties between us as we identify how the violations we endure are not isolated events, but rather the expression of the systemic injustice of capitalism and the systematic nature of the crimes and violations committed by transnational corporations.
We affirm that through this Treaty, we will address the people, States, public opinion and international institutions in order to present our proposal for an alternative legal and economic system that is radically different from the corporate regime. As such, especially considering its legal dimension with its solid and clear legal proposals, the Treaty will also serve as a reference for on-going popular pressure on States and their institutions and international organisations to implement binding norms for transnational corporations and a new legal and economic regime that fully respects the peoples’ rights.
What will the structure of the Peoples Treaty look like?
- Introduction. The PT will begin with an introduction in which we analyse the architecture of extraordinary privileges and impunity that has allowed transnational corporations to commit systematic human rights violations and crimes, while we reaffirm the importance of an alternative vision on law and justice that comes from the people.
- Preamble. The preamble is where we will affirm the principles that communicate the political meaning of our vision of the world.
- Legal proposal. This is the ensemble of legal ideas that we consider necessary in order to guarantee the protection of the rights of the peoples and nature.
- Alternatives. As a complement to the presentation of legal alternatives, this section presents a series of proposals from social struggles for rights from all over the planet. These proposals express the will to build another world – one that is different from the current system shaped by the economic, political and cultural power of transnational corporations.
Who Are We?
The Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and End Impunity was launched in June 2012 at the Rio+20 People’s Summit. The launch was preceded by a broad consultation process with movements, networks and organisations from around the world that are fighting against the corporate regime that has captured development models and the architecture of extraordinary privileges and impunity that allow this regime to perpetuate itself. At the time, a Call for Action was also issued with the goal of giving the central role to communities who are resisting the systematic violations and crimes of transnational corporations. These crimes and violations justify the need for a Peoples Treaty.
The Call for Action has been signed by over 150 movements and organisations from
all regions, who are now collectively moving the Peoples Treaty process forward.
Key elements of the Peoples Treaty’s legal proposal
A binding external code
A binding external code is needed whose main premise will be to do away with the dominant system of voluntary commitments. Its source as well as its material and formal content may transit between the ad hoc norms of the ILO, the OECD and the UN and the proposals for binding codes presented in the United Nations in the 1970s.
It will include:
- the extension of a parent company’s responsibility with affiliates, suppliers and subcontractors;
- the subordination of transnational corporations to the sovereignty of host States in ways that are coherent with the right to development / buen vivir;
- the concept of interdependence, indivisibility and permeability of human rights norms;
- civil and criminal liability of the directors and executives of transnational corporations;
- direct compliance of transnational corporations with international law and criminal liability of legal persons and double indictment: transnational corporations are criminally liable for the infractions and crimes that they commit, as are the corporate directors that approve the incriminating decisions.
An International Tribunal
The new legal framework requires that an international mechanism responsible for receiving, investigating and judging accusations against transnational corporations be created. This mechanism must also ensure that the sentences be enforced.
A Centre on Transnational Corporations
The creation of a Centre on Transnational Corporations in charge of analysing, investigating and inspecting the practices of transnational corporations is another strategic proposal. The Centre’s principal function will be to investigate accusations received from groups and organisations affected by the practices of transnational corporations.
Host states are often liable for failing to guarantee the rights of the peoples; their actions favour transnational corporations. Host states can be denounced for their actual involvement, for coliability in human rights violations committed by transnational corporations by legislating in their favour or ratifying trade or investment agreements that facilitate the activities of transnational corporations, or for complicity for not preventing violations from happening.
Home States, where a corporation’s headquarters are located
The States where a transnational corporation has its headquarters may have various levels of criminal liability – and therefore, they can be brought before an International Tribunal – for pressuring countries to sign trade or investment treaties, for example, or for failing to protect the rights of the peoples’ due to pressure from transnational corporations. They must also oblige their transnational corporations to respect human rights in all places where they operate and approve specific proposals on extra-territorial responsibility.
Furthermore, international and regional human rights protection systems must be improved to ensure that sanctions imposed by States are enforceable and mandatory.
Transnational corporations do not currently fall under the universal jurisdiction in criminal matters above the national level. It is needed to develop a jurisdiction at the international level for transnational corporations and that ecological crimes, colonial domination and other forms of foreign domination, foreign intervention and economic crimes be included as grave and massive violations of economic and social rights.
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