November 29, 2022

Statement: We need corporate accountability in the Plastics Treaty negotiations

This statement was given by Agustina Luque with Latin America Healthy at this week’s treaty negotiations.

Thank you Mr. Chair. We thank the opportunity to participate on this forum. I’m Agustina Luque with Latin America Healthy Coalition (CLAS), and I’m attending this sessions on behalf of Corporate Accountability an international organization with more than 40 years’ experience challenging the abuses of transnational corporations that is also a member of the global Stop Tobacco Pollution Alliance, a coalition of tobacco control organizations created specifically to participate in these negotiations.

I wanted to respectfully address an issue of great urgency related to the INC process: the need to develop strong and comprehensive accountability framework. As the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, recently pointed out “The whole cycle of plastics is now a global threat to human rights. We must ensure free, active, meaningful and informed participation in the new Plastics Treaty negotiations. We need clear boundaries on conflict of interest to ensure the new Treaty puts people before profits.”

It is deeply alarming that this critically important treaty would legitimize and even welcome industries—such as the tobacco, fossil fuel, food and beverage industries, that have for decades profited deeply from the manufacture and sale of plastic products—by initiating negotiations absent any safeguards against the influence, interference, and outright obstruction of these vested interests in negotiations.

That is why we are respectfully encouraging member States to align the INC process with accountability precedents from other UN mechanisms.

Several strategies implemented in various international mechanisms ensure that:

  1. Conflicts for industries are disclosed, curtailed, and prevented,
  2. Industry remains accountable to the people and the planet; and,
  3. The transnational corporations and their proxies are held liable for the harm they cause, with reparation obligations.

Taking lessons from the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control on conflicts of interest (Art. 5.3), liability (Art. 19), participation of nongovernmental and other members of civil society not affiliated with the tobacco industry (preamble and Art. 4.7), and also from the legally binding instrument on business and human rights, can be instrumental in developing a comprehensive accountability infrastructure to protect the plastic treaty from the long-documented and dangerous trend of corporate capture in other international fora such us the Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. To offer but one example from the UNFCCC, in particular: more than 630 fossil fuel lobbyists were registered to attend negotiations sponsored by a host of corporations that profit richly from the extraction of fossil fuels. This treaty needn’t invite the foxes to guard the hen house in this same manner, especially with the health of our collective publics and the planet at stake.

Such precedents are built upon accountability principles, which mutatis mutandis should guide the requisite provisions that the INC must adopt to meaningfully advance people-centered solutions. Member states shall be the ones taking the leadership and not let industry undermine their sovereign participation by influencing their position.

Thank you.

Corporate Accountability
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