Eveline Lubbers on Tue, 19 Oct 1999 19:37:06 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Cordababla

ĘChallenging Corporate PowerĘ
The Cordoba Declaration

>From October 14 - 17, 1999, thirty progressive activists and researchers
assembled in Cordoba, Spain, for a European strategy session, solidifying
an international network and movement challenging the increasing power of
While corporate power is not a new phenomenon, in the last decade, the
political activities and influence of corporations have reached new levels
threatening the pursuit of democracy and social and environmental
standards. The growing gap between rich and poor, loss of livelihood, cuts
in social services, mass unemployment and the scapegoating of immigrants
are some glaring examples of this trend. In addition the privatisation of
essential services such as health care, housing, education and utilities
prioritizes the realisation of profits over public interests. 

Important factors contributing to the rise of corporate power include the
process of globalisation and the rise of neoliberalism.  Following trade
and investment liberalisation, mega-corporations operating on a global
scale increasingly dominate economies. In the pursuit of international
competitiveness, governments adopt regulations and free-up economic
resources to serve the needs of corporations to the detriment of people
and the environment around the world. 

Corporations have organised themselves in a web of lobby groups on the
national, regional and global level, such as the European Roundtable of
Industrialists and the International Chamber of Commerce. They have
benefited from the ongoing transfer of political power to anti-democratic
international structures such as the European Union and the World Trade
Organisation (WTO). Far reaching corporate-state alliances have emerged in
the last few years, such as the Transatlantic Business Dialogue (TABD). 
They show a chilling reality of how far policies are being shaped around
corporate priorities. Also, the increasingly close liasons between the
United Nations and business is an unacceptable trend. Another central
element of corporate political power is the rise of a multi-billion euro
public relations (PR) industry and media corporations whi ch work with
business in manipulating public perception on a wide range of issues where
commercial interests are at stake. 

Campaigns on climate change and international trade and investment
treaties such as the Multilate ral Agreement on Investment (MAI) and the
World Trade Organisation as well as the growing revolt against genetically
modified foods and movements against privatisation and deregulation in the
South provid e inspiring examples of how diverse social movements are
challenging corporate power. 

The time has come to intensify our efforts to structurally challenge the
political activities and p ower exercised by corporations and their lobby
groups. This means rejecting the current agenda-setting role of busine ss
and anti- democratic alliances between corporations and states. 

Limiting economic concentration and dependency on mega-corporations is a
necessary part of any atte mpt to roll back corporate political power, and
allows the social and environmental agenda to reclaim political space. 
Codes of Conduct and other voluntary initiatives have proven to be
insufficient and to be primarily corporate strategies to protect and
further their own interests. Enforceable standards for corporate social
and environmental behavior are imperative. 

European Union leaders are meeting in Tampere, Finland to create "a common
political and judicial s pace against crime and for European citizens
freedom." In fact, they are constructing a "fortress Europe" that
contributes to the rise of xenophobic, racist and chauvinist sentiments
and an EU-wide security sys tem that is also targeting legitimate
expressions of popular opposition.  At the same time, the European Union
is developing the military capacity to serve European corporate interests
As the next steps in our efforts to roll back corporate power, we have
agreed to work together to: 

Work to share information and strategies to challenge corporate power
(direct action, critical shareholder campaigns, corporate watchdog
activities, etc.)

Expose and challenge the major corporations involved in the public
relations industry. 

Expose the impact of the Transatlantic Business Dialogue on government
regulations and institutions and the political influence gained by large
companies through this anti-democratic corporate-state alliance. 

Prevent WTO negotiations on new issues and demand a full independent
review of the impact of the Uruguay Round agreements on people and

Reject the "Global Compact" between the United Nations and international
business as it is based on the flawed concept of self regulation by
corporate "global citizens". 

Cordoba, 17 October 1999

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