I’ve been thinking about this film a lot recently. It made a huge impression on me when I saw it for the first time in Peru: I find the imbalances of power created by hyper-mobile capital and global inequality very troubling, and this film paints quite a devastating picture of the negative side effects.
I’m very excited, then, to be able to present a paper on the topic of holding transnational corporations (TNCs) accountable for their actions within local communities at the 2014 G20 Youth Conference in May. I believe TNCs can be a very effective and beneficial driver of growth and technology transfer, but I’m concerned by the lack of meaningful mechanisms by which individuals and communities can successfully defend their rights, especially in the Global South. My jumping off point was Kate Macdonald’s 2008 report The Reality of Rights: Barriers to accessing remedies when business operates beyond borders and the philosophic basis to my argument, if you will, is that the protection of rights should not lie with consumer boycott or shareholder advocacy in the North, but with the provision of meaningful opportunity and sufficient voice and power to communities in the South, such that they can demand for themselves the responsible, sustainable, and rights-respecting action of TNCs, in accordance with local priorities and cultural preferences.
I’ve been thinking of this film because it’s an excellent example of the difficulty of holding capital to account when it operates in a distant corner of a youthful democracy, with the greatest impact falling on minority indigenous groups.