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Corporations that abuse human rights are a threat to SDGs and our planet

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Tchenna Maso from La Via Campesina (Movement of affected by Dams) in Brazil, said, "We are concerned about the content of the revised draft text presented for discussion this week because it does not reflect many of our key concerns and proposals. In particular, the treaty needs a primary focus on transnational corporations, as indicated in the original resolution 26/9, to address the corporate impunity we see in the world."

Kea Seipato, Coordinator of the Southern African section of the Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, stressed that, "The people of Southern Africa are calling for a self-determined development and are demanding a Treaty that will ensure that. They are calling for the 'Right to Say No' to the plunder of their resources by transnational corporations."

Pablo Fajardo, representative of the Union of People Affected by Chevron in Ecuador, said, "International financial systems and multinationals have captured the Ecuadorian State over the last two years. That is why a binding treaty is needed, which returns sovereignty to peoples and states. But it is also clear to us that a UN binding treaty that is not accompanied by sustained social action will not be effective - as exemplified by recent events in Ecuador over the past ten days."

Karin Nansen, chair of Friends of the Earth International said: "Environmental and human rights defenders are on the frontline of resisting the violations committed by transnational corporations, enduring systematic attacks of intimidation, silencing and killings. The historical importance of this binding treaty process to end, once and for all, the impunity of transnational corporations and guarantee access to justice for those affected cannot be overemphasized."

Recently activists performed in front of the Palais de Nations representing how transnational corporations use Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms (ISDS) to sue governments that implement regulations to protect labour standards or the environment. The action is part of a tour traveling from Geneva to Vienna, where today the UN Trade Commission UNCITRAL begin negotiations on a reform of the ISDS system.

Dr Thomas Köller from Attac Germany remarked, "We call on the European governments and the European Union (EU) to participate constructively in the negotiations on the UN Binding Treaty. In Vienna the EU must withdraw its push for a Multilateral Investment Court."

This is not the first time where countries globally have joined hands against corporate abuse. More than a decade back in global tobacco treaty negotiations, despite tobacco industry tactics to water down this treaty process, governments agreed to stop tobacco industry interference in public health policy. This treaty, formally called the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), has two backbone Articles that potentially empowers governments to better implement life saving public health laws: Article 5.3 of this treaty, guidelines of which were adopted in November 2008 by governments, recognizes in its preamble that there is a direct and irreconcilable conflict of interest between tobacco industry and public health policy. Article 19 of this treaty which is being worked upon by governments is to hold tobacco industry legally and financially liable for the damages it has caused. I have been part of every global tobacco treaty negotiations so far (Conference of the Parties to the WHO FCTC) as an observer (part of Corporate Accountability led Network for Accountability of Tobacco Transnationals team). Tobacco industry interference in global tobacco treaty is a stark reminder why we need laws and policies in place to not let abusive corporations interfere with health and development policy making.

No time to lose in dealing with corporate abuses

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