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Debate. 40 years of SOMO: Power to the People

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How can we regain control over large companies, and ensure multinationals are aware of their responsibilities? Anniversary debate with Eva Joly (Member of the European Parliament and human rights lawyer Martyn Day.

The power of multinationals seemed untouchable. But news about severe pollution, harsh working conditions in the textile industry and large-scale tax evasion increasingly brings to light the dark side of our favourite brands. How can we force big multinationals to take their responsibility throughout the whole production chain, across the globe.

How to curb impunity

Eva Joly, member of the European Parliament and former investigating judge, explores ways to counter the impunity of multinationals. In dialogue with human rights lawyer Martyn Day, she tries to answer the following questions: How can we legally hold companies liable for their actions? And how can we, not only as consumers in a transparent market, but also through democratic means, encourage companies to act socially responsible? What does this mean for our economic system?


Eva Joly

Eva Joly(opens in new window) is a legal specialist in financial affairs, and in 1990 she joined the High Court of Paris as an investigating judge. Her most famous case, however, concerned France’s leading oil company: Elf Aquitaine. Despite receiving death threats she carried on with the case and uncovered several cases of fraud, leading to the conviction of dozens of people involved in the oil business.

Martyn Day

Martyn Day(opens in new window) is a senior partner of the law firm Leigh Day(opens in new window) . He specialises in international, environment and product liability claims, often as group actions. Day heads a team of over twenty lawyers, representing claimants in cases against corporate and government bodies. Day has been fighting oil company Trafigura, for example, on behalf of 30,000 claimants from the Republic of Ivory Coast. In addition, he is representing a Nigerian fishing community in a case against Shell over alleged unpaid compensation for recent oil spills and negotiated on behalf of Colombian farmers in a claim against BP.

Ewald Engelen

Ewald Engelen(opens in new window) is a professor of Economic Geography at the University of Amsterdam. He writes columns for Dutch newsmagazine De Groene Amsterdammer and for Dutch news website the Correspondent(opens in new window) where he specialises in critical articles on the economy and the financial sector. He is a regular guest on Dutch media programmes Buitenhof, Pauw & Witteman and BNR Nieuwsradio. He gained considerable notoriety from the controversy surrounding his column criticising the Dutch unions published in the SER Magazine, and his subsequent column in De Groene Amsterdammer responding to the stir it caused (‘Kutcensuur bij de SER’ – ‘Shitty censorship at SER’). (SER is the Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands.) Previously he has worked for the Dutch Scientific Council for Government Policy (Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid), the Waterland think-tank and television programme Buitenhof.

Location, date and time

This debate is organised together with the Studium Generale programma of the University of Utrecht, in honour of SOMO’s 40th anniversary.

Event: Power to the People

Date: December 2nd, 2013

Time: 20:00

Location: Aula Academiegebouw, Universiteit Utrecht, Domplein 29, Utrecht

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