Manushya pushes back against corporate capture & abuse at #UNForumBHR!
Dear Manushyan, Dear Friend,
The end of the year is approaching but for Manushya Foundation, the fight to put People and Planet over Profit is never-ending. After a busy few months filled with workshops, international fora and field trips, Manushya’s Founder and Executive Director Emilie Palamy Pradichit and Human Rights Campaign Advisor Nada Chaiyajit set off for Geneva last week to participate in the 11th United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, where they were invited to speak. It was an opportunity to advocate for real corporate accountability: push back against corporate capture, urge States as well as UN agencies to #StopNAPping and #StopSLAPP against Human Rights Defenders.
It is particularly important to reflect on Manushya’s advocacy in Geneva today, 10 December 2022, on International Human Rights Day; and a day after International Anti-Corruption Day. Corporate capture, a form of corruption at its core, is perpetuated through the lack of corporate accountability and effective legal frameworks preventing it. Just as with any kind of corruption, its price is high: but it is paid by people and the planet on the ground. At the #UNForumBHR, Manushya Foundation denounced corporate capture loud and clear! But, you may ask, what is corporate capture? As per the definition established by ESCR-Net (the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Manushya Foundation is a member), corporate capture is the undue influence of corporations over decision-makers and public institutions, resulting in corporate human rights abuses. Read on to learn more about Emilie’s and Nada’s advocacy journey!
The global-level 11th UN Business & Human Rights Forum came at a crucial time for Manushya Foundation and corporate accountability in Thailand: corporations receive carte blanche from the Thai government to violate the human rights of communities through greenwashing schemes such as the Bio-Circular-Green Economy model, businesspeople wage SLAPPs against Human Rights Defenders and the Thai government only offers weak and non-functional National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights rather than strong legally-binding measures such as mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence (mHREDD). In September this year, Manushya Foundation brought these issues to the Asia-Pacific Responsible Business and Human Rights Forum where we advocated loud and clear against weak NAP-BHR, engaged with the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights (UNWG on BHR) for the protection of two Women Human Rights Defenders facing SLAPP charges and co-organized sessions with regional partners to discuss the most pressing #BizHumanRights issues.
Building on our impact during the BHR Regional Forum, Emilie and Nada were invited to speak at the 11th UN Forum on Business and Human Rights and ensured that truth is heard and false narratives are confronted at several official and side events.
In the evening, Emilie moderated an event “Covid-19 vaccines, Transparency and Human Rights Defenders” co-organized by PODER, Vaccunas para la Gente, and International Service for Human Rights. Emilie facilitated an important discussion touching on the issues of non-transparency in Covid-19 vaccine deals, the corporate capture by Big Pharma - the pharmaceutical companies - on the legislative process, and social inequality accentuated by the pandemic. Important points were also raised on the inequality of vaccine distribution between the Global South and the Global North.
On the last day of the Forum, Emilie took part in an excellent panel “Preventing ‘corporate capture’: Responsible policy and regulatory engagement”. During her intervention, Emilie shed light on the manifestations of corporate capture, and provided examples such as community manipulation of the Thepa community in Thailand, fighting against a planned coal-fired power plant, judicial interference as experienced by the community from #JusticeForPhichit waiting for justice for 20 years, the interference of the legislative process in Thailand, as seen recently in Thailand in relation to the Government’s greenwashing schemes such as the Bio-Circular-Green Economy model, and lastly the corporate capture of the UN itself, present for example during the negotiations on the legally #BindingTreaty on Business and Human Rights.
In the last hours of the Forum, Manushya Foundation, spearheaded by Emilie, concluded the Forum at a joint side event co-organized by Manushya, PODER, ISHR and BHRRC: “UNGPs and NAPs: A Remedy for Victims and Human Rights Defenders?”. The story of the failed NAP-BHR in Thailand and concerns that NAPs will be replaced by ineffective voluntary guidelines on human rights due diligence shared by Emilie was echoed by panelists from Japan, Mexico, and Nepal speaking about experiences from their own countries and jurisdictions. All participants reiterated the need for timely action as NAPs have failed to address the concerning situation of corporate impunity, while governments still promote them as a tool for awareness-raising and capacity-building for companies.
#WeAreJustTransition Movement: It’s time for a Just, Feminist, Green & Inclusive Transition!, 24 November 2022
Thailand’s NAP-BHR: What is a NAP-BHR & Why We Don’t Want It?, 7 October 2022
#StopSLAPP: Women Human Rights Defenders push back against SLAPP charges!, 29 September 2022
#JusticeForPhichit: Free trade agreements: Corporate greed makes the right to water of Phichit villagers distant reality, 29 April 2022