Back to all Motions

2019 National Delegate Conference
18 February 2019

Conference notes that the revenues of the three largest corporations in the world, including Wal-mart, were higher than the gross domestic product of 110 countries, 55% of all nation states and that 66 individual people own as much wealth as 3.6 billion people.

Whilst trade and investment agreements give corporations extraordinary rights that enable them to operate and accumulate gigantic profits across the globe, no binding international obligations that regulate their own conduct exists. This enables them to act recklessly and with impunity.

The resulting scale and impact of corporate operations across the world is causing untold harm to millions of people and the environment every day with no chance for justice: from land-grabbing and displacements to the contamination of water and soil, to the severe exploitation of workers’ and the loss of lives of human rights defenders protecting their fundamental human rights, livelihoods, freedoms and territories.

This is why UNISON wants full Parliamentary scrutiny oversight and approval for free trade agreements after Brexit. But not only this, Conference believes that the time for an international mechanism to regulate corporate power is long overdue.

Corporations must be made to identify environmental and human rights risks linked to business activities and take preventative action; international legal cooperation against corporations must be enabled; citizens need support to access justice for cases concerning irresponsible cross border operations; and the legal relationship between international courts that protect the rights of investors and governments that protect the human rights of their citizens needs to be clear.

Conference further notes that four years ago a United Nations General Assembly motion started a process to negotiate a Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations with respect to Human Rights. Past efforts to create similar treaties have failed. Yet, despite the attempts of the EU (and especially the UK), USA and Australia to ‘kill’ the Treaty process, it has survived and the first draft text will be negotiated in October 2019.

Conference welcomes UNISON and Public Services International campaign efforts with civil society to keep the Treaty alive.

Conference believes that the Treaty represents a once in a life time chance to secure binding international rules that start to turn the balance of power, at last, in the favour of people over corporate profit.

Conference therefore calls on the National Executive Council to:

1)Work with Public Services International to monitor the progress of the Treaty;

2)Campaign with UK civil society to raise public awareness of and action in support of the treaty;

3)Build support for the Treaty within Parliament and pressure the UK Government to change its position;

4)Support the UNISON Regional Councils in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to win backing for the treaty within the devolved administrations;

5)Advocate for the United Nations negotiations to make progress.