Building Networks for Social Change
The Washington, D.C.-based organization works toward long-term, sustainable solutions to the factors that enable corporations to commit human rights abuses. It also works to develop and enact mechanisms of accountability and redress in cases where violations are committed. ICAR’s mission basically sums up its goals for society; it believes in “an economy that respects the rights of all people, not just powerful corporations,” and seeks to promote human rights and equality by holding corporations accountable for their actions. Further, ICAR asserts that the efforts of the corporate accountability movement to stop corporate abuses are absolutely tied to larger issues of inequality. Thus, it seeks a rights-based economy that not only holds corporations accountable for their actions, but also promotes a more equitable state of the world.
As such, in its domestic work, ICAR and its civil society peers have been put on the defensive, and need to employ strategies to protect or restore accountability/regulatory mechanisms in addition to efforts to move forward and make positive change. Just recently there have been myriad rollbacks of Obama-era regulatory policies that protect workers, land rights, and other interests that directly align with ICAR’s work. ICAR has joined and spearheaded multiple coalitions in response to the unleashing of corporate power to wreak havoc on the citizens of America (and the world). This collaborative work is targeting harmful practices like, for example, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, which are heavily impacting allies like Greenpeace, and issues like voting rights and the corrupting power of corporate money in politics.
Further, ICAR is utilizing multiple strategies to attack corporate capture. Corporate capture is the mechanism whereby corporations and extremely wealthy individuals or groups leverage their money and unduly influence domestic and international decision-makers. This almost always results in the undermining of human and environmental rights. Work against corporate capture is an integral part of ICAR’s recent efforts, as it submits letters to public officials, calls for changes in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and develops a new project to call out corporations that do the most harm in their efforts to influence government.
In its more internationally geared work, ICAR seeks to holistically change the culture and laws surrounding corporate behavior. It works to develop and secure legal frameworks promoting corporate respect for human rights, ensure compliance to those frameworks, provide remedy when corporations violate those laws, and create tools to assess the ethicality of a corporation’s supply chain, sourcing, or other business practices. Major corporations have an outsized impact over the lives of many worldwide, be it due to labor standards or to environmental degradation harming communities near sites of corporate operation. So, ICAR believes it is necessary to expand the conditions under which corporations can be held liable for their action to align accountability mechanisms with the scale of corporate power. ICAR works on procurement reform, labor practices, and other elements of the production process to try and improve the state of human rights.