What follows are examples, not just of tribunals but also fact-finding missions and community-led human rights impact assessments, that could be replicated in other sectors and geographies to draw attention to the phenomenon of corporate capture:

  • People’s Tribunal on Economic Crime (South Africa):“An example is the People’s Tribunal on Economic Crime, the first public civil society-led tribunal of its kind dedicated to tackling corruption and economic crime. (…) Together, more than 25 individuals and civil society organisations told the country what they knew about these crimes and the impact felt as a result by ordinary South Africans. The Tribunal was a deliberate response to the failure of the state to fully investigate allegations of corruption and state capture. It provided a forum open to the public for explosive information and evidence related to economic crimes from apartheid to the present day.”

According to Open Secrets, “One way to deal with the state-led format of commissions has been to establish a parallel People’s Tribunal on Economic Crimes. This is a collaborative project between Corruption Watch, the Foundation for Human Rights, Open Secrets, the Public Affairs Research Institute and the Right2Know Campaign. The tribunal’s panel of legal and activist experts allowed members of the public to submit evidence on ‘economic crimes’ and released interim findings on the arms trade hearings early in February 2018. This report considered both apartheid-era and post-apartheid economic crimes involving sanctions-busting, arms deals and the later revelations about the state capture project in the late 2000s, linking them in a historical continuum.”

  • Forest Fact-finding Missions in Asia Pacific:According to Sarojeni Rengam of Pesticide Action Network – Asia-Pacific (PANAP), theForest Fact-finding Missionsare participatory field research trips that glean information about the effects of forestry, agribusiness, pesticides, and the like on people and planet while creating opportunities to learn from and build power with affected communities. If the issues are well-documented and the people well-organized, subsequent popular tribunals can be useful to bring these findings to a larger populace, using participatory research and public communication to pressure decision makers.

  • Community-led human rights impact assessments:Oxfam’sCommunity-Based Human Rights Assessment Initiative(COBHRA) — which has been adapted by organizations throughout the world, such as Project on Organizing, Development, Education, and Research(PODER) in Mexico — is a participatory tool to both assess human rights impacts and encourage companies to conduct due diligence that considers human rights risks, impacts, and the consent of affected communities. In PODER’s case, together with community organizations and rightsholders, it has used this tool on three occasions: to cancel an open-pit mine in the State of Puebla, to cancel an airport in the State of Mexico, and to fight against a toxic mining spill in the State of Sonora. In each case, the tool works best when communities mobilize and participate as field researchers to interview affected people, take soil and water samples, educate the community about human rights impacts, and so on.Regarding corporate capture, the COBHRA is most useful as a neutral communication tool that, based on corporate research into a project’s projected impacts— including power mapping and anti-corruption analyses of revolving door, bribery, and similar problems —can alert the community, public, company, its investors, and regulators about capture and prevent it from causing further harm.

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