The Supranational Corporation

Beyond the Multinationals


Author: Laura Westra
The growth of corporate power has kept pace with and even exceeded the rapid rise of globalization in the past two decades. With it has come the weakening of a nation’s ability to hold corporate power in check, and the increasing inability of states to protect the rights of individuals within their national boundaries as a result of the growing number of international legal instruments.

This work lays bare corporate actions both domestic and international, under the guise of legal "personhood," and shows how corporations flaunt laws and act as controlling powers beyond the constraints imposed on legal state citizens. Corporations are now “embedded” within domestic legal regimes and insinuate themselves to subvert the very systems designed to restrain corporate power and protect the public weal. Using international vehicles like the WTO and NAFTA, corporate collective power effectively supersedes the constitutional mandate of nation states.

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Laura Westra, Ph.D. (1982) in Philosophy, University of Toronto, and Ph.D. (2005) in Law, Osgoode Hall Law School, currently teaches environmental law at the University of Windsor, international law at the University of Milano (Bicocca). She has published twenty-eight monographs and collections on environmental justice and human rights issues and international law, and over 85 articles and chapters.
Foreword by Richard Westra

1. The Corporation: From the “Original Sin” (Santa Clara) to Right of Personhood (Roe)
The Corporation: Natural versus Juridical Personhood
Fetal Personhood and the Law Before and After Roe
Some Further Arguments Regarding the Right to Life of the Preborn in Common Law
Arguments about the Possible Introduction of “Human Life Amendments” into Law
Personhood and its Problems
Personhood as “Categorization” not “Recognition”: the Source of Corporate Power

2. The Corporation: Controlling Public Health and Other Basic Rights
Individuals and the Corporation
Corporate Activities and their “Toxic Trespass”
Pulp and Paper Mills and Mercury Poisoning: The Canadian Case of Grassy Narrows and White Dog
Central and South American Cases: Attacks on Health Through Mining and Extractive Industries
A Brief Overview of the Constitutional Protection Available for the Environment in Colombia and Ecuador
Corporate Agribusiness and Health
Corporate Crime as Human/Animal Oppression
From Big Tobacco to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
The Corporation and Its Internal Stakeholders
Concluding Thoughts

3. The Corporation and the State: A Question of Power
“Corporate Clout” in a Lawless World
Existing International Laws for State and Corporate Responsibility
The Corporation as a “Quasi-State”
The State and the Corporation: Responsibility and Complicity
Jus Cogens and the Effects of Corporate Activities
The Impunity of Corporate Criminals and the State
Corporate Impunity and “Imperial Plunder”
National Lawyers Guild International Committee
Corporate/State Crime and Third States Obligations
Corporate Power and Cosmopolitan Democracy
Corporations, the State and the “Two Constitutions”

4. The Corporation as Criminal
Introduction: External Stakeholders
Norms to Restrain Corporate Harms: “Gaps” or Structural Violence?
Corporate Forward March: From Weedkillers and “Super Insects”
Pesticides Beyond Agriculture: Corporate Power and Chemical Warfare
Colonization, Genocide and War Crimes: Germany and the Herero People
Complicity and Responsibility from Nuremberg to Vietnam
Corporation as Criminal: Internal Stakeholders
Corporation as Criminal: Asbestos Imposes Direct and Indirect Harm
Concluding Thoughts

5. The Corporation as a Supranational Power: The European Union
Europe’s Revolt and Resistance to Corporate Power: Theory and the Law
Revolt and Resistance to Corporate Power in Practice
Criminal Precedents and Corporate Disaster in Hungary
Bayer’s Criminal Precedents: Unacknowledged Dangers
Corporate Power and the “European Dream” in Conflict
The Roots of “Europe, Inc.” in the American Dream
Corporate Responsibility under ATCA
Corporate Criminality, Fitness to Rule and “Tempering Globalization”
Corporations are Unfit to Hold Their Present Ruling Position

6. The Corporation as a Supranational Power
Climate Change and Corporate Culpability
Climate Change and State Corporate Relations
“Nature’s Trust” Against the Power of Drones and Caterpillars
Corporate Complicity in Attacks Against the Right to Life
Legal Versus Natural Persons
The New Supranationalism and Corporate Attacks on Civil and Political Rights: The EU and the US on Conflicting Trajectories
Europe’s Protection of Human Rights Against Multinationals
The United States and the Reach and Limits of Supranational Power
Supranational Corporate Power and Post-National Citizenship
From Local to Global Citizenship Against Corporate Power: The Occupy Movement
Concluding Thoughts

Appendix I: List of Cases
Appendix II: List of Documents
General interest in law, sociology, international law and political science, on the part of both students and scholars.