Thursday, October 15, 2009

Why Trafigura should be a Green campaigning issue

The Abdijan toxic slops disaster, with its subsequent attempt to suppress free speech is news today, but Trafigura will be hoping for it to be a one-day wonder. They have lost a battle, but they aim to maintain their freedom to put profit before people. It is our duty to make sure that this does not happen.

It is a core Green issue, for these reasons:

1. It began with a toxic waste problem carried by ship. Greenpeace
should be interested.
2. It is an environmental health issue. All environmental activists
should be interested. Medact and other health campaigns should be
brought in. Also there are Environmental Law practitioners and
NGOs who have an interest. An important issue of burden of proof
emerges, involving philosophy of science (even) , and cases going
back to Seveso, Seascale and Lowermoor.
3. The human rights of the people of Abidjan were infringed, so
Amnesty &c should be interested.
4. It is a North/South issue, involving Oxfam, War on Want and the
many other NGOs in that field.
5. The dumping broke European Union laws, so the European Parliament
should be involved.
6. It is a freedom of the press issue, and there are any number of
individuals and organisations involved here - Index on Censorship
comes to mind. This aspect also gives us a unusual positive
leverage on getting our message out through the media. Newsnight
has been following this story.
7. It is also an issue that transcends the left/right divide, since
the Spectator were involved as well as the Guardian. We can bridge
this divide where others cannot.
8. Most of all, it is a TransNational Corporation issue, so Corporate
Watch should be involved, and a nexus of practitioners and NGOs
are already working on reforms to company law, to . FoE sent a
rep to a conference at the AI HQ last year on this subject. This
really is a key issue of democracy, since we must rein in the
TNCs, and bring the power that they have arrogated to themselves
back to Parliaments.

We must build an alliance on this area, beginning with Trafigura, but ending with bringing the megacorporations under the rule of law.

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