More than two-thirds of the richest 100 entities on the planet are corporations, not governments, new research has found.
The World’s largest company by revenue, US retail behemoth Walmart, generated sales of more than half a trillion last year, more than the income of all but nine of the world’s 195 national governments.
Corporations account for 157 of the 200 largest entities on the planet, according to a list compiled by Global Justice Now. The campaign group compared figures for government revenues from the CIA World Fact Book with company revenues from the Fortune 500 in order to highlight the growing financial clout of large firms.
London-listed Royal Dutch Shell is the fifth-largest firm in the rankings and the second-biggest publicly listed company in the world by revenue, behind Chinese oil company Sinopec.
Shell’s $311bn (£237bn) revenues dwarf those collected by most countries in the world, including Mexico, Belgium and Russia, putting the oil major just behind South Korea, a country of more than 50 million people.
Campaigners are calling for the treaty to be legally enforceable at a national and global level. The UK, which currently sits on the UN human rights council, has traditionally been hostile to the treaty, which is supported by Ecuador, South Africa and a number of other developing countries.
Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said the vast wealth and power of corporations is at the heart of global problems including inequality and climate change.
“The drive for short-term profits today seems to trump basic human rights for millions of people on the planet,” he said.
“Yet there are very few ways that citizens can hold these corporations to account for their behaviour. Rather, through trade and investment deals, it is corporations which are able to demand that governments do their bidding.
“The UK government has facilitated this rise in corporate power – through tax structures, trade deals and even aid programmes that help big business.
“Disgracefully it also routinely opposes the call of developing countries to hold corporations to account for their human rights impacts at the UN. That’s why today we’re joining campaigns from across the world to tell the British government not to block this international demand for justice.”
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