February 22, 2009

Gordon Brown calls for global regulation, but what about democracy and transparency?

The logic of the Simultaneous Policy approach to addressing global problems - at least the Simultaneous part of it, if not the democracy and transparency - becomes ever more prominent during the current global financial crisis.

Gordon Brown, writing in today's Guardian, states:

"All markets and all jurisdictions that want to benefit from the global economy should play by the global rules. Institutions with global reach should be regulated in a global way, not by a patchwork of national regulators."

I agree, to a point. In my proposal for a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority (which is conceived more to end human rights and environmental abuses than regulate financial markets), I suggest that the first port of call should be the national juridsticion, particularly of the home country of the firm. If home countries refuse to act, because they gain income and tax revenue from the business, and the country were the abuse takes place does not act, perhaps fearing disinvestment, then there should be recourse to an international institution. My suggestion is the World TNC Regulatory Authority, which can present a case to a revamped International Criminal Court for sanctions on the corporation and, perhaps, the home government that profited from turning a blind eye. For more on this proposal click on the tag link in the side panel.

Mr. Brown vision at present seems to be restricted to financial systems, where the logic for some form of global regulation arises from the cross-border nature of the business, rather than the simple power of the companies to play fast and loose with their human rights obligations and face down governments who try to hold them to account.

But Mr. Brown also makes a telling comment in his article. One which places too much faith in current systems of corporate governance. He states: "Banks must act in the long-term interests of their shareholders and therefore of the economy as a whole, not in the short-term interests of bankers."

This is really an non-sequeter. Benefits for shareholders may not be the same as benefits for the economy. For example, shareholders will benefit if a bank uses every tax dodge it can think of to maximise profits and lobbies, through fair means or foul, to stymie efforts for effective regulation.

More broadly, shareholders may benefit from corporations abusing human rights and the environment. I've had the shocking experience of sitting in a Nestle shareholder meeting when shareholders have booed and hissed anyone who has the affrontery to keep them from their free junk food samples by raising concerns about pushing of baby milk, exploitation of coffee and cocoa farmers, depletion of water reserves or trade union busting. See:

Shareholders serving their own interests does not 'therefore' benefit the rest of us, as Mr. Brown suggests.

But he is right in suggesting global problems need global solutions. Those solutions should be the subject of democratic scrutiny. That is the aim of the Simultaneous Policy. Perhaps Mr. Brown should take a look.

February 10, 2009

World TNC Regulatory Authority article in Jus Semper newsletter (English and Spanish)

During the annual voting on policies for inclusion in the Simultaneous Policy last year, I was fortunate to make contact with the Jus Semper Global Alliance for wage equality and was invited to submit an article for their newsletter on my policy proposal for a World Transnational Corporation Regulatory Authority.

This appears in the new Jus Semper newsletter, Winter 2009, which is available at:

Many thanks to the editor, Álvaro de Regil Castilla, for arranging this and the translation of the article into Spanish.

I strongly believe that it is through discussing and sharing the real changes that the Simultaneous Policy can bring that we will reach more people and involve them in the campaign. The World TNC Regulatory Authority gained good support in the last voting round, being the second-best supported policy and to continue to do well, it will need ever greater support, so promoting policies is a two way street: promoting policies brings people to the Simpol campaign and helps to grow support for this approach; at the same time, individual Adopters can rally future voters for their proposals.

In this case, those interested in promoting the World TNC Regulatory Authority have a valuable resource to use in their campaigning, which is being added to my blog. Of course, Jus Semper also benefits through having their wage equality proposals promoted to a wider audience at the same time. Perhaps a member of that campaign will put them forward for inclusion in Simpol in time for the next voting round and encourage Jus Semper supporters to sign up as Adopters to vote for them.

The problems the world faces seem ever more pressing, so the more we can focus on solutions and the role Simpol can play in making them reality, the faster we will make progress.

After reading the article, feel free to leave comments on the World TNC Regulatory Authority in Simpol’s discussion forum at: