International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG)

The CICIG was a treaty-level agreement established between the United Nations and the Government of Guatemala to investigate and help prosecute illegal security forces.During its mandate, the CICIG investigated well over 100 criminal networks and succeeded in dismantling more than 70 of them.“For Guatemalans, the CICIG was an essential anti-corruption mechanism, which later expanded to take on fiscal issues, corruption in the public sector, financing of political campaigns, and money laundering.”

The innovation of the CICIG was to use a treaty-level mechanism to criminally investigate and prosecute instances of grand corruption, including State capture. The potential and scalability of such a mechanism for other countries and situations is promising.

Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights 

The Binding Treaty — “the U.N. Human Rights Council passed Resolution 26/9, which established an open-ended intergovernmental working group (IGWG) with a mandate to develop an international legally binding human rights treaty to regulate the activities of transnational corporations and other business enterprises” — is a space characterized by the hopes, hard work, and innovation of advocates, communities, rightsholders, and other stakeholders worldwide. The process to propose, negotiate, and eventually ratify the Treaty prominently features leadership from the Global South, where many organizations see this as a chance to at least partially correct the power imbalances of other spaces dominated by companies and organizations from the Global North. In particular, theESCR-Net’s Corporate Accountability Working Group(CAWG) is a key organizer globally, ensuring the authentic participation of different experiences and voices in this process.

Unlike theU.N. Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights,which has become a space categorically labeled as captured, the Binding Treaty largely remains a civil society – State dialogue at the global and national levels, with meaningful but ringfenced participation for corporations in the negotiations. A key concern of CSOs has been to ensure that the Binding Treaty process does not succumb to corporate capture, as corporate lobbyists and associations have attended many of the negotiations.

Additionally, theAfrican Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR)passed a resolution on business and human rights. As a Binding Treaty is unlikely to address all needs, having a regional treaty is a complementary measure for accountability in Africa.

Global Tobacco Treaty

Several advocates point to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as an example of how to use treaties to prevent corporate capture. Namely,the guidelines for Article 5.3— which states: “In setting and implementing their public health policies with respect to tobacco control, Parties shall act to protect these policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with national law” — contain four important principles:

  • “There is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and the interests of public health policy.”
  • “Those working with the tobacco industry or to advance its interests must be held accountable and be transparent.”
  • “Require the tobacco industry and those working with them to be accountable and transparent.”
  • “Since their products are lethal, no incentives should be offered for tobacco industry businesses.”

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