For Immediate Release

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Jonathan Stevenson, media officer
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69 of the Richest 100 Entities on the Planet are Corporations, Not Governments, Figures Show

WASHINGTON -
  • 157 of top 200 economic entities by revenue are corporations not countries
  • Top 10 corporate revenues exceed $3 trillion
  • British government urged to support Binding Treaty to hold corporations to account at UN in Geneva this week

Top corporations continue to accrue revenues far in excess of most governments, figures compiled by Global Justice Now show. Comparing 2017 revenues, 69 of the top 100 economic entities are corporations rather than governments. The top 10 corporations – a list which includes Walmart, Toyota and Shell as well as several Chinese corporations – raked in over $3 trillion last year.

When it comes to the top 200 entities, the gap between corporations and governments gets even more pronounced: 157 are corporations. Walmart, Apple and Shell all accrued more wealth than even fairly rich countries like Russia, Belgium, Sweden.

Global Justice Now released the figures in order to put pressure on the British government during UN human rights council negotiations this week to take forward a new binding UN Treaty to force transnational corporations to abide by human rights responsibilities. Campaigners are calling for the treaty to be legally enforceable at a national and global level. Britain, which currently sits on the UN human rights council, has traditionally been hostile to the treaty, which is supported by Ecuador, South Africa and many other developing countries.

Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now, said:

“The vast wealth and power of corporations is at the heart of so many of the world’s problems – like inequality and climate change. The drive for short-term profits today seems to trump basic human rights for millions of people on the planet. 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.”

Download the data: See the full list comparing the revenues of countries and corporations

Read our campaign briefing: Ending corporate impunity: The struggle to bring about a binding UN treaty on transnational corporations and human rights

Notes

1. The figures have been taken from a direct comparison of the annual revenue of corporations and the annual revenue of countries. Sources: CIA World Factbook 2017 and Fortune Global 500.

2. Global Justice Now is a member of the Global Campaign to Reclaim Peoples Sovereignty, Dismantle Corporate Power and Stop Impunity, a network of over 250 social movements, civil society organisations (CSOs), trade unions and communities from around the world affected by the activities of Transnational Corporations (TNCs). It is taking part in a week of peoples mobilisation in Geneva from 13-20 October to coincide with UN Human Rights Council discussions on the draft text of the UN Binding Treaty on TNCs and Human Rights. See https://www.stopcorporateimpunity.org.

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Global Justice Now is a democratic social justice organisation working as part of a global movement to challenge the powerful and create a more just and equal world. We mobilise people in the UK for change, and act in solidarity with those fighting injustice, particularly in the global south.

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