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Rights for People, Rules for Corporations – Stop ISDS!

Join the movement to end corporate privilege

Corporations have their own global private court system – called ISDS – which they use to bully governments. But many victims of corporate human rights abuses don’t have any way of winning justice.

This is unfair.

We need to end these corporate courts now

Instead, we need a tough global system that can punish multinationals for their crimes.

Last year, our coalition launched a European petition across 16 EU Member states, to make the EU and European governments end corporate privileges!

Now the petition has closed and 847,000 people from across the continent have rejected ISDS and demanded a better alternative that will hold corporations to account.

Our Demands


ISDS – short for ‘Investor-State-Dispute-Settlement’ is an obscure parallel justice system only accessible to the super-rich.

Multinational companies have used this system to threaten governments that dare to stand up to them with claims of up to billions of euros.

Government policies that have been challenged using ISDS include:

  • Regulating pollution levels on a coal power station
  • Introducing health warnings on cigarettes
  • Declaring a moratorium on fracking
  • Halting a mine that would have destroyed whole communities
  • Raising the minimum wage
  • Freezing water tariffs to help the poor
  • Stopping health insurers from making huge profit

And they don’t always have to win a case to get their way. For many countries, the mere threat of a huge claim can be enough to persuade them to back down and let the corporate fatcats win.

When millions of people across Europe rejected the EU-US trade agreement TTIP, many people learned about ISDS (which was part of the deal) and were very angry.

Now there are plans to scale-up ISDS by creating a permanent global court where corporations can sue states. The EU and member state governments want to do this by inserting it into new trade agreements. Their support for such an unfair toxic system must be challenged.

In order to stop ISDS we need to oppose these new deals and get rid of existing ones. Corporations and the super-rich do not need a separate system to protect their rights.

Human beings need more rights, corporations do not.

Want to know more about ISDS?

End corporate impunity

They destroy the planet. They ruin lives. They can even get away with murder.

But instead of punishment, they get more power and impunity. Over the past decades, the extent of corporate power has become overwhelming.

If you were to steal so much as a loaf of bread, you could be held accountable in a court of law. But corporations hide behind complicated and opaque ownership structures to avoid legal responsibility. This means that they regularly get away with perpetrating serious human rights and environmental abuses including:

  • Land grabs
  • Murder
  • Ecocide and mass pollution
  • Climate change
  • Forced labour
  • Violence

This is why campaigners and social movements from across the world have united to push for a global system that punishes multinationals for human rights abuses.

A new system for holding corporations to account could be a real game changer in fighting the global power of corporations. It could mean:

  • Local communities from the global south winning the right to take corporations to court in places like France, Germany and the UK.
  • A UN Binding Treaty on multinational corporations and human rights. This will give people an international guarantee that corporations will be held to account.
  • More national and EU-level laws like the French Duty of Vigilance legislation. This forces corporations to take responsibility for ensuring that human rights are not being violated anywhere in their global supply chains.

But there is a big problem. Rich countries – like the US, and most European governments – are fighting tooth and nail to stop it. The very same governments who think that global corporations need special rights and a separate ISDS court system, don’t want to give ordinary people the right to hold multinationals to account.

This is why we need to fight hard to make sure our politicians wake up. They need to recognise: Rights are for people. What corporations need are rules.

Our campaign

Could we win?

Despite their huge power, there are signs that corporations could lose their battle to revive ISDS and avoid a global mechanism to end their impunity.

  • A draft of the UN Binding Treaty has been published in the face of fierce corporate opposition.
  • ISDS has become so toxic that few politicians dare to defend it. Their new project to create a global corporate court is in its early stage, and can still be derailed.
  • TTIP – the EU-US trade deal that would have handed unprecedented power to corporations was defeated after 3,5 million people across Europe rejected it.
  • MEPs from across the political spectrum have begun to reject ISDS and are supporting the UN Binding Treaty. The European Parliament has passed no less than 10 resolutions in support of the UN Binding treaty.
  • Several EU countries are working on corporate accountability laws. France paved the way with its Duty of Vigilance law in 2017. Companies with more than 5000 employees in France now have a duty to ensure that no human rights violations happen anywhere in their supply chain. If every country had this system, big companies would find it much harder to get away with serious abuses.

The momentum is with us. We are living through a once in a lifetime opportunity to deal a strong blow to unaccountable corporate power.

Sign the petition now!

What can I do?

  • Sign the petition
    Over 500 000 people from across 28 European countries have already joined the fight to secure rights for people and rules for corporations. Sign here!
  • Spread the word
    Send an email to your friends and relatives, asking them to sign the petition. Share the action on Facebook and via Twitter!
  • Get in touch with local campaigners.
    Check our “Alliance” page to see which organisations are supporting this campaign. Many of them have local groups that you can join.
  • Sign up for updates.
    You will soon be able to sign up to our newsletter, so we will bring you updates on the campaign including exciting events and days of action.
  • Get in touch with your elected representatives.
    Write to your local MEP or member of national parliament and alert them to this issue.

Who's in?

We are a broad alliance of over 200 trade unions, campaigning organisations and grassroots movements.

So far over 500 000 people have signed our petition in 28 European countries.

The movement is big and it is growing bigger every day.
Are you in?

Then please sign and share our petition.

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