The ITJ, established in 2021, is a Mexico-based, non-profit transnational justice organization. It was founded by ProDESC, but it is a wholly-separate entity that builds upon the organization’s two decades of experience in the corporate accountability and human rights fields.The Initiative aims to ensure transnational justice and accountability through genuine collaborations with counterparts in the Global South that defend economic, social, and cultural rights. 

It serves as a platform to provide a distinct opportunity for affected communities, collectives, and grassroots organizations from the Global South to generate cases and campaigns through a feminist, communitarian, intersectional lens.

The Initiative was founded at a time when corporate accountability surged as a relevant field in human rights, including the creation of due diligence, international grievance, and similar mechanisms, some with extraterritorial applications. In advanced capitalism, this means protecting individuals and groups located mostly in the Global South from business activities implemented by corporations located mostly in the Global North. Consequently,the impact of corporate accountability should be felt more acutely in the Global South— as with the case of the root cause underming it, corporate capture —where it actually changes the realities of communities and collectives

Notwithstanding, corporate accountability interventions using these mechanisms and policies are often dominated by experts and CSOs in the Global North and the voices of those affected are seldom present. Moreover, philanthropic funding tends to flow to actors in the Global North, many of whom conduct programming and other “field work” in the Global South without changing the day-to-day reality of those who live there. Additionally,the implementation of these strategies, albeit unintentionally, has on occasion increased reprisals against grassroots human rights defenders.

In reflections between the ITJ and Global South allies, they have prioritized building South-South collaborations. While there are enormous cultural differences between countries and communities in the Global South, there are also many similarities about how they defend people and planet against corporations, providing common ground to form stronger alliances.

In order to structurally change the impacts wrought by corporate capture, the ITJ believes that corporate accountability must have concrete effects on the ground, particularly in the territories and collectives located in the South that are most affected.This will lead to the limitation, prohibition, or cancellation of corporate activities that cause human rights violations and even achieve reparation for communities and collectives.

Furthermore, the construction of South-South collaborations and the construction of a strong Global South-led movement will deter the worst human rights violations that result from corporate capture. Both governments and corporations will rethink their actions if they know that there is a strong movement acting as a counterweight, ready to defend human rights across the Global South.

Currently,the Initiative works with communities, collectives, and their CSO partners in six countries of the Global South to tackle corporate capture head on through transnational collaborations and corporate accountability. These projects include:

  • Argentina:The Initiative has participated in an observatory mission to watch and denounce violations of indigenous peoples’ rights occurring inJujuy,in northern Argentina, where they live in an area rich in lithium. The local government — captured by corporations — is actively trying to displace the communities in order to jumpstart mining projects.

  • Brazil:Working with Brazilian organizations such asPACS,the Initiative has been supporting a series of agrarian communities located in the State of Bahia that are defending their land, territory, and natural resources from nefarious wind energy projects funded by French and Norwegian corporations. The Brazilian Government has recognized that these communities have the right to free, prior, and informed consent, but this right has been violated. The Initiative is holding meetings with communities and local NGOs in order to design a transnational strategy to hold these corporations accountable in their home countries.

  • Chile:Working with Mapuche representatives and their lawyers, the Initiative has supported the defense of land, territory, and natural resources of communities located near thePilmaiquén Riverwhere several corporations have expressed interest in building hydroelectric dams. Currently, a Norwegian corporation is planning the construction of a dam that would permanently flood Mapuche land and territory and, with it, sacred lands. The Initiative has supported these communities with the presentation of a complaint before the Norwegian OECD National Contact Point as part of a larger corporate accountability strategy.

  • Ecuador:The Initiative has provided security assistance to members of an independent trade union who have suffered death threats and other acts of violence for defending their labor rights.

  • Mexico:The Initiative has worked closely withProDESCin order to analyze and support communities defending their rights to land, territory, and natural resources from mining projects and solar power plants.

  • South Africa:The Initiative has provided assistance on community-based security measures for several organizations that have been targeted by a paramilitary group for defending their human rights.

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