The Trans-Pacific Partnership’s International Tribunals Will Take “Corporate Personhood” to the Level of “Corporate Super Humanism”
As has been discussed on this blog in the past, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is being put together in extreme secrecy. This secrecy comes complete with a total lack of mainstream media coverage despite serious potential long-term effects. Leaked documents show that the TPP will have a chilling effect on the ability of the United States government to take legal action against multi-national corporations for their abuses of environmental, agricultural, and labor laws. In fact, it sets up a system in which such accusations could be appealed to an “international tribunal,” effectively rendering corporations unrestricted by the law of the (U.S.) land.
More frightening is that Congress itself is being kept nearly as out of the loop as we, the people, are. As we noted in our post, Trans-Pacific Partnership More Likely To Create “Disaster Scenario” Than Positive Economic Impact, a proposed “docking agreement” would allow countries wanting to enter trade agreements in the future to simply become part of the TPP, meaning no new “free trade” agreements would need to be negotiated for generations. Therefore, the precedent of secrecy is essentially being applied henceforth.
In a new Truth-Out piece, “Why So Secretive? The Trans-Pacific Partnership as Global Coup,” writer Andrew Gavin Marshall points out that a letter from Congress to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk questions the lack of transparency in the TPP negotiations. Yes, our own corporation-friendly Congress is scared that the TPP could lead to irreparable harm to our sovereignty and could lead to wide spread corruption. A bit of a pot calling the kettle black situation, but still:
[TPP] will create binding policies on future Congresses in numerous areas,” including “those related to labor, patent and copyright, land use, food, agriculture and product standards, natural resources, the environment, professional licensing, state-owned enterprises and government procurement policies, as well as financial, health care, energy, telecommunications and other service sector regulations.”
Under the guise of a “trade agreement,” permanent changes are being made to non-trade issues. What has been dubbed “NAFTA on Steroids” should really be referred to as the “Multinational Magna Carta” as it is likely to carve out a new map where boundaries and already weak protections against corporate overreach are meaningless. As noted by Truth-Out:
…only two of the TPP’s 26 chapters actually have anything to do with trade. Most of it grants far-reaching new rights and privileges to corporations, specifically related to intellectual property rights (copyright and patent laws), as well as constraints on government regulations.
Particularly upsetting about the TPP is the concept of International Tribunals which will take “corporate personhood” to a new level of “corporate super humanism.” By signing into this agreement our nation surrenders sovereignty in dealing with these corporations on a legal level. Any violations of environmental or labor law would be dealt with under the secrecy of an international tribunal overseen by the Secretary General of the United Nations.
The extremity of the matter has not only raised red flags with progessive activists. In June, when the original documents revealing the degree of the TPP’s devious decree were leaked, Americans for Limited Government lamented the constitutional breach the creation of international tribunals would create. From their statement:
These new trade agreements will place domestic U.S. firms that do not do business overseas at a competitive disadvantage. Based on these leaked documents, foreign firms under this trade pact could conceivably appeal federal regulatory and court rulings against them to an international tribunal with the apparent authority to overrule our sovereignty. If foreign companies want to do business in America, they should have to follow the same rules as everyone else. No special favors…
…This poses an even wider problem, though. Obama is negotiating a trade pact that would constitute a judicial authority higher than even the U.S. Supreme Court that could overrule federal court rulings applying U.S. law to foreign companies. That is unconstitutional. The U.S. cannot be allowed to enter a treaty that would abrogate our Constitution.
Americans for Limited Government is a Far Right group that readers of this blog might not frequently agree with, but their concern about the TPP is quite sensible, especially in terms of labor law. The labor movement of the United States fought hard to raise safety and wage standards to bolster the working class. Now, those standards are being threatened if not entirely dismissed. Ultimately, the TPP could be responsible for an exodus of working class jobs from the United States.
As it is, environmental and labor law abuses occur regularly in the United States with minimal consequences. With the passage of the TPP those already ineffective regulations will be even more toothless. Furthermore, President Obama’s support for and power brokering of this agreement are in many ways in direct disagreement with the platform he ran on in 2008.
Under the agreement currently being advocated by the Obama administration, American corporations would continue to be subject to domestic laws and regulations on the environment, banking and other issues. But foreign corporations operating within the U.S. [including foreign subsidiaries of domestic corporations] would be permitted to appeal key American legal or regulatory rulings to an international tribunal. That international tribunal would be granted the power to overrule American law and impose trade sanctions on the United States for failing to abide by its rulings. The terms run contrary to campaign promises issued by Obama and the Democratic Party during the 2008 campaign.”
To view the TPP as anything more than a corporate giveaway is pure naivety. Yet, with a complete lack of transparency and zero coverage by mainstream media the public outcry that could prevent this economic, environmental and civil rights atrocity is simply not taking shape.