Background statement from Friends of the Earth International

Why is Corporate Accountability Needed?
Global and regional trade agreements are granting multinational corporations far-reaching rights. Yet there is currently no international mechanism in place to hold corporations accountable to the citizens and communities affected by their activities.

This is most evident in the extractive industries where communities have been devastated by poor corporate practices. Freeport in West Papua, Newmont Mining in Peru, Premier and TotalElfFina in Burma to name a few of the numerous examples where extractive industries have exploited resources without assuming the social and environmental duties that are required if sustainable development is to be realized.

What will Corporate Accountability Look Like?
A corporate accountability convention would establish rights for citizens and communities affected by corporate activities; duties for corporations with respect to social and environmental matters; rules to ensure better practices wherever corporations operate and most importantly, liability clauses including financial and legal liability for companies and company directors.

Where are the WSSD negotiations headed on corporate accountability?
“FoEI is very concerned that some governments may move today to delete all references to corporate accountability from the Vice-Chair’s paper,” said Matt Phillips of Friends of the Earth International.

“Delivering sustainable development will require governments to ensure corporations conduct their activities in a responsible manner,” Matt added.

“Bali is the last stop before Johannesburg. Governments must negotiate a legally binding framework for corporate accountability and liability. The WSSD provides a critical opportunity to reverse the current destructive model and establish innovative policy solutions to achieve sustainable development.”

Matt Phillips at +44 7810 558 246
FoEI’s position paper for Prepcom 4, “Towards Binding Corporate Accountability,” is available in hard-copy or online at