Multistakeholder governance: the corporate capture of global governance*
In 2009, the World Economic Forum (WEF) convened an international expert group to formulate a new system of global governance, the so-called Global Redesign Initiative (GRI) – a system of multi-stakeholder governance (MSG) as a partial replacement for intergovernmental decision-making [See also Nyéléni Newsletter n. 22]. The GRI program established, in 2010, 40 Global Agenda Councils and industry-sector bodies, setting up WEF’s framework for a MSG system.
What WEF means by multi-stakeholder is, first, that multi-stakeholder structures do not mean equal roles for all stakeholders; second, that the corporation is at the center of the process; and third, that the list of WEF’s multi-stakeholders is principally those with commercial ties to the company.
WEF proposals for MSG are a timely reminder that we need to take a new look at the current rules of engagement in international affairs. In my analysis, there are four options to control the drive toward MSG that is acting outside multilateralism:
1. To outlaw TNCs’ involvement in global policy-making and program implementation, as is done in the tobacco convention;
2. To rebuild the UN system, giving economic, environmental, and social decision-making the same legal mandatory status as decision-making in the Security Council;
3. To legally recognize the de facto status that civil society and TNCs have in global decision-making and design a new global institution that incorporates an appropriate political balance between these sectors and supplants the existing government-based UN system;
4. Governments should adopt a new Vienna Convention specifying the rules for how MSGs could operate as an adjunct part of multilateralism.
It is time for a broader range of other social groups, particularly those most adversely affected by globalization, to re-think how they believe global governance should work.
* This text is a short summary of Harris Gleckman’s article published in TNI’s “State of Power 2016” report.
Multistakeholderism: a trap for peoples’ food and nutrition security*
Advocating multi-stakeholderism in the area of food and nutrition has been one of the main strategies for advancing a pro-corporate agricultural agenda that disempower small-scale farmers. One of the most advanced pilots of corporate-led multi-stakeholderism, promoted by WEF’s Global Redesign Initiative (GRI), is the Global Food, Agriculture and Nutrition Redesign Initiative (GFANRI), established in 2010.
GFANRI has integrated several initiatives including the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the African Green Revolution Association (AGRA), the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition for Africa, the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Task Force on the Global Food Security Crisis (HLTF), the Global Partnership for Agriculture and Food Security, and the Scale Up Nutrition (SUN) initiative.
These multi-stakeholder bodies advocate policies based on a belief that the liberalization of international trade can guarantee global and national food and nutrition security (FNS) with no need for specific global or national governance, and aim to:
1. Restrict the political mandate of the FAO to providing agricultural technical assistance;
2. Dismantle the Committee on World Food Security (CFS); and
3. Close the UN Standing Committee on Nutrition (SCN), the UN harmonizing body of global nutrition.
Throughout 2015, this strategy has advanced even more, with close allies of SUN seeking to increase its visibility and role within the CFS and UN Secretary General announcing he would nominate the new coordinator of SUN. The overall drive has been to progressively transfer governance from intergovernmental to multi-stakeholder spaces, strongly influenced, if not led, by the interests and agenda of the private corporate sector.
The peoples of the world must call on states to reject corporate capture and the logic of “multi-stakeholderism” and reaffirm people’s sovereignty and human rights as a fundamental step to addressing all forms of inequity, oppression and discrimination, and to democratize national and global societies.
* This text is a short summary of Flavio Valente’s article published in TNI’s “State of Power 2016” report.
On the move to Dismantle Corporate Power
The global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity & for Peoples Sovereignty was launched by a network of over 100 organizations, movements and affected communities from all over the world during the Rio+20 Conference in 2012 in response to the UN corporate agenda to further the privatization, commoditization and financialization of nature.
The Campaign has built a Peoples Treaty which articulates the views, strategies and proposals undertaken by a diversity of social actors aiming to dismantle corporate power.
The Peoples Treaty is divided in two sections – the first outlines the successful implementation of social, political and economic alternatives that have liberated politics and territories from corporate greed and power.
The second part presents concrete and in depth proposals for an internationally legally binding system to bring TNCs to justice for their human rights violations and was presented prior to the historic vote in the UN Human Rights Council that established an ongoing open ended intergovernmental working group (IGWG) to elaborate a UN Treaty to regulate TNCs and other business enterprises.
The UN Treaty is an opportunity to establish obligations under International law for TNCs to respect all human rights; to establish an international court for giving access to justice and remedy for victims and to judge TNCs liability and impose sanctions to TNCs for their environmental crimes, as well to challenge corporate capture at UN level.
While TNCs are the object of the Treaty they are not, as perpetrators, in a position to define juridical instruments or sanctions they would be willing accept – unlike the voluntary guidelines and corporate social responsibility tools they helped define when invited as “stakeholders” by a UN more and more dominated by TNCs interests.
The recognition of Peasants’ rights, which is now part of language and object of the UN agenda –and also needs to be kept out of corporate takeover – is an inspiration to the movements working to control TNCs and stop their impunity. The convergence of both struggles empowers us to dismantle corporate power and build peoples sovereignty on a sustainable world free of all forms of exploitation.