At the heart of many cases of corporate impunity and bad practice, is the stark reality of huge power imbalances between multinational companies and the people they affect. Companies use their power and influence to deny responsibility or to offer tokenistic remedies. The use and abuse of their powerful position is a feature of many of the harmful strategies used by companies, from denying access to information to avoiding regulations through corporate lobbying.
Serious harms are diverted to corporate-controlled grievance mechanisms aimed at containing criticism more than solving problems. Or it can go further as document in harmful strategy 4, where companies seek to silence communities and human rights defenders who try to seek justice. MNCs’ influence with state actors is a major feature of power imbalance. Many people find their path to justice blocked by the extent of the corporate influence over local officials and systems.
For communities and activists facing such challenges, finding ways to shift the balance of power in their favour can help counter the corporate strategies. There are a range of actions that can help change the power dynamics.
- Bring an international spotlight to the issue or case
- Bringing complaints to international bodies
- Helping communities connect to a home state lawyer
- Build coalitions to support the case so that the community network is widened
- Engage with finance / project investors
- Engage shareholders
- Help with access to resources – CRE