A Dutch coalition that includes SOMO as well as other civil society organisations and trade unions launched a new campaign on January 22nd. The No VIP rights for multinationals: human rights and environment first! campaign is part of a European initiative to put an end to Investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS), a parallel justice system accessible only to corporations, with no democratic or public oversight. Multinational companies have used ISDS to threaten governments daring to stand up to them with claims amounting to billions of euros. Instead of ISDS, the coalition is calling for a binding UN treaty on human rights and business.

The Dutch campaign and petition was launched in front of the Peace Palace in The Hague, and was accompanied by a ‘flash mob’ of activists and volunteers performing various acts.

The campaign urges the Dutch government and the EU to:

  1. Withdraw from existing trade and investment agreements containing ISDS, and refrain from concluding any such agreements in the future.
  2. Support the creation of a binding UN treaty to end the impunity of transnational corporations and hold them to account for human rights violations.
  3. Enshrine in their national laws the obligation of corporations to respect human rights and the environment throughout their operations worldwide.

Corporate courts like ISDS allow companies to sue states when government policies threaten their profits. Under the ISDS system, corporations have sued countries for anything from implementing health warnings on cigarettes to introducing a moratorium on fracking. For many countries, the mere threat of a huge claim can be enough to persuade them to back down. These obscure corporate courts are clearly incompatible with our existing judicial systems and democratic societies.

Support the campaign and sign the petition here!