Corporations are an important part of modern life and the modern economy, but their interests do not always represent the interests of living, breathing, human beings. We ensure that protecting people, not corporations, is the primary focus of our laws and policies. Even as the American public has become increasingly concerned about corporate influence over our public institutions, corporate power only continues to expand beyond the reach of laws, regulators, and the courts.
As our economies become more and more globalized, so will the earth’s people. The communities who stand between the corporations looking to make a profit and the valuable resources of their lands become disposable.
Corporations are taking steps to insulate themselves from accountability for their actions. These efforts increasingly limit the ability of ordinary citizens and other victims of corporate abuse to access the courts. And under the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizen United decision, corporations - which cannot vote - have been granted rights under the First Amendment to spend money in order to influence elections,
Often, dangerous corporations are not held accountable in the countries where they commit crimes against humans and the environment. In our case against Chiquita, for example, the company pulled out all of their assets from Colombia, the place where the crimes occurred, and can no longer be held accountable there. There has to be a place for justice, and we believe that that place is in US courts.
What We're Doing About It
Globally, we seek innovative legal strategies to counter corporations and governments who violate human rights and environmental justice. ERI pioneered the use of Alien Tort Statute (ATS) to hold companies accountable in U.S. courts for violations they committed abroad.
We strengthen and protect transparency legislation on the state and national level. Each year we rank members of U.S. Congress on their action or inaction on corporate accountability legislation in our Corporate Accountability Scorecard.
As long as corporate power remains unchecked, businesses and the governments they collaborate with will continue getting away with human rights and environmental justice violations. Transparency and accountability are crucial in turning around business as usual. Corporations' respect for human rights and the environment is not simply a matter of social responsibility or voluntary gestures, but a legal requirement that should be enforceable through courts and other means. We work to promote corporate accountability in a variety of ways.