Think Global Extra December 2016
Welcome to the December issue of Think Global Extra, the bimonthly supplement to Think Global. Read it in conjunction with the last full Think Global from November.
- Ask your MP to sign the EDM opposing corporate courts in the UK’s bilateral investment treaties
- Keep up the pressure on MEPs to vote against CETA in the European parliament vote early in 2017
We think we now have a date for the vote in the European parliament for CETA ratification: 1 or 2 February 2017. This is as close to a definite date we have yet to see, but things can change even at this stage.
CETA’s proposed system of corporate courts was recently debated in the European parliament. On 23 November the European parliament voted on a motion to refer this system to the European Court of Justice to assess whether it is compatible with EU law. Sadly, the vote was lost, but the way UK MEPs voted was quite instructive in preparation for the main vote on CETA in the new year:
- Labour: five voted to refer the corporate courts system to the ECJ, 13 against
- SNP: one for, one absent
- Greens: two for, one absent
- Conservatives and Lib Dems: all voted against
We need to ensure that the MEPs who voted for proper legal oversight of CETA vote against the whole thing – especially given that they have failed to ensure that oversight. But we also need to swing the votes of the MEPs that failed to vote for proper legal oversight of a system that would massively boost the power of private corporations.
Please continue to target Labour, SNP and Green MEPs to ensure they vote against CETA (sadly, the Lib Dems and the Conservatives are probably lost causes).
CETA Question Time with Scottish MEPs
On Saturday 7 January, we have invited all of our Scottish MEPs to join us for a Question Time-style event on CETA as the final vote at the European parliament approaches. ‘CETA: a boost for business or TTIP by the back door?’ may be your last chance to lobby Scotland’s 6 MEPs on CETA before they vote on whether to keep or reject the trade deal in early February. If you live in Edinburgh or are able to get travel there, please take up this opportunity to lobby your MEPs. If you are coming let us know on the Facebook event page and share this event with others.
TISA negotiations in December were cancelled because the position of the US was unclear following Trump’s election. However there is a good chance that this will be a trade deal he supports, despite his rhetoric against NAFTA and Obama’s Trans Pacific trade deal. TISA is sadly far from dead. We aim to bring out further materials on TISA in the new year. Meanwhile we have plenty of copies of our briefing on TISA, which has now also been translated into Spanish by Public Services International. You can order copies from the office.
UK’s existing bilateral investment treaties
Many of us learned about the existence of corporate courts (ISDS) in trade and investment deals from campaigning on TTIP. However they have been included in bilateral investment treaties (BITs) for many years. For decades they were barely used and largely token – only 3 cases had ever been brought by 1994. But since then there has been a rapid increase in corporations suing governments, with 608 cases by 2014. This revealed how dangerous the corporate courts are, and the need to ensure they are not allowed to take a much more central role through TTIP and CETA – and we’ve gone a long way in winning that.
However we also need to remove the corporate courts from the place they originally started, in the bilateral investment treaties. The UK has over 100 of these, and more than two thirds are with countries in the global south. As the UK looks at developing its own trade policy post-Brexit, we have worked with several MPs on an Early Day Motion (EDM, a kind of parliamentary petition) calling for a fundamental change to the UK’s bilateral investment treaties, including removing corporate courts.
So far 49 MPs have signed this EDM, number 642. If your MP hasn’t signed yet, please ask them to do so. You can do this as an individual through our online action, but if you are part of a local activist group it is also useful to contact your MP as a group to ask them to sign.
The Monsanto tribunal took place in October where over 30 witnesses – including Farida Akhtar from Bangladesh, fresh from her Global Justice Now speaker tour - gave testimony on the impacts of Monsanto on communities, livelihoods and environments across the world. You can watch some of the testimonies online: monsanto-tribunal.org/Multimedia_1
The professional judges from the tribunal will be issuing their legal opinion from the evidence submitted to the tribunal on 10 December. This legal opinion will provide legal arguments for various groups around the world to progress legal cases in national courts.
We have heard from the Department for International Development that the UK government is pushing for a ‘stock taking exercise’ of the New Alliance. This is the first time that the government has demonstrated any response to the criticisms of the New Alliance. We are still pushing for parliament’s International Development Select Committee to conduct a review into DfIDs’s support for the New Alliance so please keep using the action cards to help build up pressure for this.
Food sovereignty in 2017
Going into 2017 we will be starting to articulate what a good food system looks like to influence the public debate on what happens when the UK withdraws from the EU subsidies programme – the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). We will also be campaigning on the People’s Food Policy – a grassroots project from the food sovereignty movement in the UK which articulates how we could implement policies in the UK that are based on the principles of food sovereignty. Internationally, we will be working in solidarity with social movements, producers and campaigners who are fighting for a UN declaration on the rights of small-scale producers. There will be more information on all of these in the next Think Global.
In December, we will be delivering Xmas cards to Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail, asking him to change his paper's hateful message on migration to coincide with International Migrants Day. The cards were distributed to recipients of our Christmas financial appeal, who have been signing them and sending them back to us.
We also continue our ongoing research into the UK government's current policies towards migrants, and will soon be producing some written materials and launching an action aimed at stopping the worst of these.
In mid-November we joined a coalition of groups including Right to Remain and Campaign Against Arms Trade to disrupt and protest against the European Custody and Detention Summit. The Summit was a two day event at the Tower of London primarily for private security companies, including border security firms such as G4S. An important part of our migration campaign is exposing those corporations who are profiting from the misery of refugees and migrants and this was a great start to that work.
Take Back Our World in Glasgow
Check out our first major event of 2017, co-organised with the Radical Independence Campaign. Take Back Our World will feature discussions, workshops and skills trainings with activists and campaigners from across the UK and beyond:
- Charles Wilson Building, Kelvin Way, Glasgow G12 8QQ
- 28 January, 9.30-5.30pm
Speakers include Larry Sanders (political activist and brother of Bernie Sanders), Hilary Wainwright (Red Pepper), Dorothy Grace-Guerrero (Filipino corporates campaigner) and Mika Minio-Paluello (Platform).
Learn and discuss how corporations are capturing the government, the media and the global commons, how politicians are aiding this by promoting neoliberal trade deals and privatisation and, crucially, how communities and campaigners from around the world are fighting the corporate takeover.