Development & Human Rights • 27 Jun 2013
Impunity Inc.Back to overview
ODG, our Catalonian partner released a new report: “Impunity Inc.” (PDF). It highlights the “super-rights” and “super-powers” of transnational corporations through three case studies. An interactive map visualises the different cases and their negative impacts.
The publication describes the abuses and violations of fundamental labour rights taking place on a daily basis inexport-oriented garment factories working for companies like Spain’s Inditex in Morocco. This is occurring despite the discourse on corporate social responsibility and with the backing of the Association Agreement (AA) between the EU and Morocco, where there is no sanction mechanism to address the violations of fundamental rights. Evidence of a similar situation is found in the case the Spanish company Pescanova in Nicaragua which has led to negative impacts in terms of precarious working conditions, the displacement of local fishermen and the destruction of their livelihoods and the pollution of the environment in the region.
“Impunity Inc.”, also delves into Europe’s social metabolism to examine the EU’s substantial dependence on the import of increasingly strategic raw materials from impoverished countries. It describes the structure of exports fromSouth America andAfrica toEurope and how this keeps these countries in the role of primary commodity exporters and thus in poverty. One of the report’s coordinators, Mónica Vargas from ODG said: “These companies useEurope as a political platform to ensure that their interests are defended through its “raw materials diplomacy,” but it is also the destination for their products. This is why the EU governments are particularly interested in maintaining the corporate led model of consumption and capitalist production that currently prevails in the EU”.
By examining Glencore’s mining operations in Colombia, Bolivia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, on which the EU’s metabolism depends, the report describes how a giant trans-national corporation like this is able to obtain enormous profits while also provoking serious social and environmental conflicts. A review of its activities in MERCOSUR countries, provides also evidence of Glencore’s control over practically the entire chain of production. Brid Brennan from TNI commented: “When Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Economic Partnerships Agreements (EPAs) and Association Agreements (AAs) are placed under the microscope, it becomes clear how they protect and privilege the trans-national corporation and only serve to increase its hegemony and impunity”.
Through up-to-date information on the implementation of the infrastructure mega-projects in South America (IIRSA-COSIPLAN), the third case of the report concentrates on the physical foundations that support trade liberalisation, and the economic, social and environmental cost of this for the affected communities. It also assesses the additional contamination of the infrastructure projects through their increasing financialisation, and emphasises the role played here by European capital and the European Investment Bank (EIB). “Impunity Inc.” uncovers another worrying fact: even though the foundations are starting to be laid for counter-hegemonic power through initiatives like UNASUR, the territorial reorganisation driven by capital continues to advance as before. A separate section is devoted to the mega-dams being built on the River Madeira in the Amazon, with the involvement of Banco Santander, GDF-Suez, Abengoa, Voith, Siemens and other European companies.
Diana Aguiar, from the Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power & Stop Impunity, commented: “It is urgently needed to put in place an International Peoples’ Treaty, with the aim of proposing economic and political alternatives, as well as establishing binding legal obligations and an International Tribunal to enforce them, ensuring that corporations will be held accountable for their actions and punished for their crimes against society and the environment”.