Spanners in the works!
Delegitimize & dismantle
* _Who are these guys, anyway?_
Movements fighting global corporate capitalism are questioning the right of corporations to exist at all and seeking better ways to organize economically, using principles of participatory democracy and subsidiarity (decisions to be taken at the lowest possible level). Popular protest has shone a light on and delegitimized élite gatherings such as the World Economic Forum (see
* _Revoking corporate charters_ Campaigns for a new corporate paradigm are gathering pace in the US. People are reclaiming their right to participate in decisions about whether or not specific corporations should be granted the authority or licence to operate at all. US towns have passed local laws outlawing corporations with a history of social or environmental law-breaking. * _Limited liability laws_ – these ‘limit’ claims against invididuals for the wrongdoing of the corporation for which they work, and are being challenged.
* _Corporate accountability strategies_ include demanding adherence to Codes of Conduct, binding international rules for business on corporate responsibility, adherence to International Labour Organization workers standards. Enforcement remains difficult.
* _Lawsuits_ in particular class-action legal suits, can provide some redress. Encouraging signs include workers from developing countries sueing companies in their country of origin over abuses. Anti-monopoly laws such as those used to attempt to break up Microsoft in the US are of use, but have national not global reach.
*Friends of the Earth* points out that while corporations increasingly take control of industries and services previously run by governments, they are only legally accountable to their shareholders. Join their campaign for binding corporate rules and send a message to the Earth Summit:
* _Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)_ initiatives for corporations to behave in a socially and environmentally responsible manner through reporting and transparency. Such a voluntary approach is limited to the parameters the company sets for itself.
* _Shareholder activism_ Concerned people buy shares in companies whose activities they want to affect and then raise issues in shareholder meetings. As the chair of a UK company remarked: ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but institutional shareholders can fire me.’ Many public interest groups – unions, for example – are already shareholders via their pension funds in major companies with poor social and environmental records and can use this to great effect.
August 31 is a global day of action against a corporate UN, held at the same time as the UN’s World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesberg. Activists will protest that corporations are co-opting ‘sustainable development’ for big business.
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