Activists are putting the finishing touches on plans for a “popular tribunal” called, Neo-Liberal Policies and European Transnational Corporations in Latin America and the Caribbean, to be held in Vienna from May 10th to the 13th. (Click here to see a previous blog with more background information on the Vienna Tribunal.)
The tribunal will address corporate power, and the operations of EU based transnational corporations (TNCs) and their subsidiaries in Latin America and the Caribbean. It is timed to coincide with the bi-annual summit meeting of the heads of state of the EU and Latin American/Caribbean (LAC) countries. The tribunal will be one part of a broader meeting called Linking Alternatives II which will bring together activists from EU and LAC labor and social movements seeking to develop alternatives to corporate driven global policies.
The tribunal will be co-sponsored by an umbrella group, the Bi-regional Network, and by the Permanent People’s Tribunal—a direct descendent of the famous Russell Tribunals on US war crimes conducted during the Vietnam War.
Some 28 cases from across the LAC region will be presented to a jury of eminent people drawn from many walks of life and from both the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean. Activists from both LAC and the EU will be involved in the presentation of all the cases.
TNCs that will be charged include: Suez and Aguas de Barcelona, the French and Spanish water companies (among other things); Respol the Spanish based oil, gas, and chemical company; Monterrico Metal, the British based mining company; Rui Resorts, Melia, and Viva big hotel and tourist firms from Spain France and Italy; British Tobacco; Bayer the German pharmaceutical and chemical company; Unilever based in the UK and Holland, and many others.
Cases will be presented on TNC practices in many of the countries of the region; some will focus on the activities of TNCs, like Suez, in more than one country.
The goal of the tribunal will be to “indict” rather to convict the firms and to push for follow up action.
Organizers say the objectives of the tribunal are;
- To create citizen awareness of the role of TNCs in human rights’ violations and in the setting up the global neoliberal regime
- To critique the neo-liberal policies and institutions that support global corporate domination including the WTO, the World Bank, the IMF, and the growing number of Free Trade Agreements
- To move towards a global jurisprudence and a set of globally accepted standards that are constructed on the rights of peoples and of individuals not on the rights of corporations
- To augment and strengthen the strategies of organizations and movements confronting corporate power and to develop strategies and alternatives to reign in the political and economic power of TNC
- To assess the impacts of EU corporate power not only in LAC but also within the European Union and its member states
- To strengthen the political vision and capacity of the bi-regional network of movements
- To contribute to the broader goals, strategies and alternatives promoted by the global justice movement
This is an ambitious set of goals. But the tribunal in Vienna should make available a wealth of information about how TNCs operate in Latin America and Europe and about how the people of the two regions are confronting them. And it will provide powerful supporting arguments for those who strive to make global corporations conform to international legal and more standards.
M.O. and A.I.