Resolution on corporate and other private actor interference in precesses determinin public policy on human rights

19/11/2019
Statement

FIDH, meeting in Taipei (Taiwan) from 21 to 25 October 2019 for its 40th Congress,

Recognising the serious threat represented by business and other economic actors interfering in the democratic processes of building State public policies for human, environmental and democratic rights, as well as the risks for the rule of law posed by the reinforcement of such interference by private actors in the shaping of public policy in favour of private interests.

Defining interference as all actions undertaken by economic actors aimed at avoiding or weakening the public authorities’ standards, regulations and their capabilities to guarantee human rights. Interference also includes the distortion of public policies which rather than being orientated towards the satisfaction of citizens’ human rights and the public good become instruments to satisfy the specific interest of private actors.

Noting with concern that the interference of economic actors in democratic processes is a cross-cutting reality across all regions of the world including countries in the global north and the global south, reflected in actions such as:

- corporate lobbying which seeks to privilege the specific interests of business and capital groups in standards relating to human rights and the well-being of all citizens; ii) looking for activities to be declared “of public use” or “in the public interest” when they are in fact of private benefit; iii) generating conflicts of interests by co-opting important state entities into the definition of public policies and the control of business activities, or by using revolving door practices between company executives and state officials.

Identifying that interference means avoiding accountability and that such actors go unpunished for actions of a diverse nature including:

- evasion of state regulation by committing to self-regulation which does not comply or does not include transparent mechanisms for monitoring and punishment; ii) collusion with bodies in charge of approving laws to establish rules with low standards for labour, environmental and human rights compliance; iii) using corporate social responsibility activities to avoid state and social scrutiny over cases of human rights violations.

Cautioning about the effect on the right to access truthful and timely information when such actors promote:

- the circulation of false information by conducting public or private sector research that compromises scientific rigour and impartiality, ii) publication of marketing materials to promote products, actions and business practises presented as if it were scientific information or news.

Drawing attention to the threats faced by activists, local communities and civil society in general when the interference of businesses in democratic processes is reported.

In light of this, FIDH:

1. Commits to working with interested parties, whether as individuals or organisations, on a range of actions aimed at defending human rights, the public sphere as a stage for public debate without undue corporate interference and to empower members of our leagues in this area. These initiatives include actions such as producing scientific information based on research, advocacy and litigation.

2. Calls on states to regulate and sanction corporate interference in democratic processes to shape state public policies.

3. Urges its member organisations as well as other civil society organisations to develop joint strategies to investigate, report and advance regulation of corporate interference in democratic processes to shape state public policies.

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