Putting Democracy above the Bottom Line

Kelle Louaillier writes

This month, we will have a chance to chart a course toward a stronger, safer global society, where power belongs to the many, not to the few, and where those who have run roughshod over our environment, human rights, and public health will be held accountable. I am not talking about the United States’ presidential election.

To be sure, the US election will be immensely consequential; but endless punditry and horserace politics have obscured two groundbreaking events that begin on November 7: meetings of the parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).Global corporations are enormous, and their influence affects almost every aspect of our lives. To understand the reach of their power, one must look no further than the billions of dollars they spend on elections; their lobbying to gut worker and environmental protections in trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership; and fossil-fuel corporations’ relentless drive to derail climate-change policy.

Global corporations have disproportionate power because they can operate across national borders, which means that no single local or national government can effectively regulate them. The crucial function of international frameworks such as the FCTC and UNFCCC is to provide concrete tools for governments to set national policies on issues ranging from public health to climate change and global inequality.

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