• World Bank:The prime example of this is the World Bank, where the “godfather of State capture,” Daniel Kaufmann, was a lead economist and senior manager of theWorld Bank Institute’s Governance, Regulation, and Finance Group.The Bank consistently plays an important role in defining, studying, and disseminating scholarly work and policy papers about State capture. If anything, the World Bank should maintain Kaumann’s role in perpetuity and inculcate his function more transversally across other international financial institutions, such as theEuropean Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

  • U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD):The Conference, which promotes the trade interests of developing nations in the global arena, operates within the United Nations Secretariat as an intergovernmental organization. UNCTAD is often mentioned as a more independent alternative to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development(OECD), which largely represents Global North interests and is considered quintessentially captured — on par with theU.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.On the contrary, UNCTAD has a mandate to represent Global South interests and fosters meaningful civil society participation.

  • U.N. Convention against Corruption (UNCAC):Similarly to the potential of UNCTAD, the Convention against Corruption is another non-OECD opportunity to address corporate capture, as “the only legally binding universal anti-corruption instrument. UNCAC’s far-reaching approach and many mandatory provisions makes it a unique tool for addressing a global problem.The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) serves as the custodian of the Convention and as the Secretariat of its Conference of States Parties. The Convention covers five main areas: preventive measures, criminalization and law enforcement, international cooperation, asset recovery, and technical assistance and information exchange. The Convention covers many different forms of corruption, such as bribery, trading in influence, abuse of functions, and various acts of corruption in the private sector.”

  • United Nations:Throughout the early negotiations to create the U.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and more recently during the process to negotiate aBinding Treaty,CSOs have expressed concern about the corporate capture of these processes and of the U.N. in general. In a 2021 comic, the ESCR-Net’s Corporate Accountability Working Group(CAWG) even lampooned the U.N. in “Comic Series: The Power of the 99% to Stop Corporate Capture.” Their concerns, unfortunately, have significant merit.

According to the CAWG, “Time and again, ESCR-Net members have demanded that whatever shape or form the treaty meetings take, affected communities and their representatives, human rights defenders, workers, and social movements from around the world must be at the heart of multilateral public-decision making processes through effective and meaningful participation in this process. We believe that in order for the treaty to be effective, States must ensure this process is protected from corporate capture by the wealthiest 1% and economic elites. For the past few years, ESCR-Net members have been highlighting the example of the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) which provides a powerful precedent for protecting policymaking from industry interference. The FCTC explicitly recognizes the tobacco industry’s irreconcilable conflict of interest with public health policymaking and measures have been put in place to protect treaty processes and implementation from industry interference.”

InfluenceMapshares a similar analysis: “Corporations have unmatched access and influence at the [International Maritime Organization] compared to other UN bodies, providing the shipping industry with a clear avenue to shape policymaking. An analysis of other UN agencies indicates that while trade associations are typically granted access to committee meetings, similar to the IMO, at no other UN agency researched do corporations attend committee meetings as formal state representatives. Furthermore, other UN agencies have introduced or are considering rules to limit corporate influence at committee meetings. Most notably, the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2003 adopted the global tobacco treaty that completely excludes the tobacco industry from the WHO policymaking process due to its historical obstruction of tobacco control legislation.”

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