SOMO’s mission is to research, reveal and redress the power of multinationals; however, the corona pandemic has dramatically changed the context of our work and we have had to reconsider our activities. The pandemic shows the vulnerability of our economic system and our supply chains. The current economic standstill is causing uncertain chains of liabilities and responsibilities and that in the current model will lead to devastating consequences for the most vulnerable.

We can already see the first examples of disaster capitalismThis centers on the exploitation of national crises (disasters or upheavals) to establish controversial and questionable policies, while citizens are excessively distracted (emotionally and physically) to engage and develop an adequate response, and resist effectively, see also the Shockdoctrine from Naomi Klein. , meaning that companies are making use of the crisis to get funding or regulatory space they would not receive under normal circumstances. For example, the financial sector has secured deregulation in the US and the pharmaceutical sector secured higher prices in Netherlands.

On the other hand, the crisis is also showing that saving lives is most important and it has brought a revaluation of the importance of solidarity and of the public sector.
Now even more than before, we have to set priorities in what we will do and how we will do it.

Three priorities for research in the coming time:

1. Exposing and countering disaster capitalism

During a crisis, governments take big decisions at a fast pace. In this case, the decisions concern all sectors with high societal impact (the financial sector, the health sector, the fossil-fuel industry, labour intensive industries). In recent years, SOMO has gathered evidence that is now highly relevant. We are now building on this evidence by supporting initiatives in line with our findings and creating new evidence through updates and case studies. In the meantime, we are closely following how corporations are making use of the crisis.

2. Creating evidence to support alternatives for bailouts

Foreseeing bailoutsBailout is an economic term for granting a loan to a company with serious financial problems and compensation claims of major industries, we have decided to bring forward our planned research on the financialisation of sectors with a large impact on society. In addition to this analysis, SOMO will present alternatives for bailouts of all existing industries in line with a just transition, as well as in line with more sustainable and responsible supply chains.

Along with bailouts, companies already have many opportunities to claim compensation under international treaties. Together with its partners, SOMO will investigate the potential of ISDS claims and collect relevant evidence to support advocacy and dialogue.

3. Support for affected workers and communities

SOMO supports organisations that are advocating for social protection, while companies are preparing themselves to invoke ‘force majeur’ and to avoid responsibility. SOMO will adjust its research to support workers to find remedies.