Over the course of 2018, membership of the Global Inter-Parliamentary Working Group grew by a third to 327 parliamentarians from 14 countries, primarily in Europe but also in Asia and Latin America. New allies were found in Amnesty International, Greenpeace and the European Trades Union Congress. The African Union came out strongly in favour of negotiations en bloc, with Uruguay and Mexico emerging as champions from Latin America. Many national missions met with civil society organisation (CSO) counterparts, including within Asia, Southern African and Latin America. The European Parliament passed its 10th resolution in support of the Treaty, and there are indications that a number of individual member states would support a Treaty. The European Commission, however, insists that the EU must ‘speak with one voice’ and has been consistently obstructive to the process. Towards the end of the year, the Open-ended Inter-Governmental Working Group on human rights obligations for transnational corporations and other business enterprises published a zero draft text of the Treaty on the basis of which inter-governmental negotiations can begin in 2019. A record 96 governments were represented at the session where the zero draft was presented.
In addition, thanks to the work of the Lobbywatch project focused on The Netherlands, a number of positive results were booked in respect to cleaning up risks of corporate capture of government – to which TNI contributed, as a partner in the project. These included:
- generating a national controversy over the scrapping of the dividend tax for two major Anglo-Dutch transnational corporations which saw the move rescinded;
- the scrapping of the advisory Trade & Investment Board after it was exposed as not being independent of corporate vested interests;
- Dutch ministers are obliged to publish their diary appointments which was reinforced when parliament challenged a minister who was found not to have disclosed a meeting with the CEO of a major bank;
- a fundamental review of rules and regulations for Senate members has been initiated to preclude conflicts of interest arising from secondary employment.