International Commission of Jurists
After more than two years of work, the ICJ Panel made public the results of its work in three separate volumes each one addressing corporate complicity in gross human rights violations from different angles. October 2008.
Globalization, trade and investment designs and structures reinforce a model of development -centred on free trade, hyper economic growth, and export-oriented production- which is inherently unsustainable in ecological and social terms. They also destroy viable localized and regional systems that may have the greatest long-term promise for future sustainability.
Consequently, there is increasing global concern about the broader issue of corporate accountability and pressures seem to be mounting from diverse political and intellectual quarters for greater corporate responsibility. The Global Compact is the United Nations' response to this demand.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan first proposed the Global Compact in an address to The World Economic Forum on 31 January 1999. The Global Compact's operational phase was launched at UN Headquarters in New York on 26 July 2000.
The Global Compact is formally a multi-stakeholder partnership of UN agencies, business entities and civil society organizations, established to encourage business to promote good corporate practices in the field of environmental protection, human rights and labour standards. Those practices are based on nine principles extracted from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization's Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and the Rio Declaration on the Environment and Development.
The Global Compact is not a regulatory instrument -it does not "police", enforce or measure the behaviour or actions of companies. Rather, the Global Compact relies on public accountability, transparency and the enlightened self-interest of companies, labour and civil society to initiate and share substantive action in pursuing the principles upon which the Global Compact is based.
But from the statements made by the participants at the conference that launched the Global Compact, it is clear that the different partners want different things. Business wants a soft approach, with no imposition of standards and minimal scrutiny, and with specific companies allowed to go at their own pace. On the other hand, some NGOs and trade unions were joined by the UN High Commissioner for Human rights in calling for a 'price to be paid', that is, tougher measures including independent monitoring, public reporting, a faster response on the part of business, and measures against member companies that do not comply.
As Peter Utting, Project Leader at the UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), writes in his report on the Global Compact, opinions are fairly polarized: "Proponents generally see the initiative as an innovative and pragmatic approach that can reform corporate culture by instilling new values and mobilize the resources of big business for social and sustainable development. It is regarded as an exemplary form of 'good governance', where cooperation and voluntary approaches win out over conflict and heavy-handed regulation."
"Critics of the initiative are concerned that it may be doing more to enhance the reputation of big business than aiding the environment and people in need," says Utting. "They are worried that companies with a reputation for malpractice have been welcomed into Global Compact, and that the conditions imposed on business to comply with the principles are very weak. Companies can pick and choose among the nine principles they want to address and there is no monitoring of compliance. The focus on best practices diverts attention from malpractice, 'greenwash' and structural and other factors that encourage corporate irresponsibility or a 'business-as-usual' attitude."
We live in an age in which companies equivalent in wealth to countries call the shots and control much of the earth's resources. Because corporates intervene in so many areas of social life, they must be responsible towards society and the environment.
While decades ago Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) acquired much importance on the agenda of the European Union and of some of its member countries, in Iberian America there is little interest among national governments, the business community and universities. Nonetheless, some countries (Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, etc.) have begun developing a corporate social responsibility conscience thanks to the efforts of nongovernmental organisations. January 2007 (pdf version).
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is on the rise all over the world, and India is no exception. The history of corporate paternalism has played an important part in shaping community expectations and CSR practices in India. Civil society, consumers and other actors have increased the pressure on companies to adhere to social and environmental standards, and this new “civil regulatory” environment has had impacts on business in India. This paper considers corporate environmental and social behaviour in India, both in the past and the present, in an attempt to better understand the actual impact of CSR. January 2007.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) has become a fashionable, if not particularly well-defined, term in recent years. The concept encompasses a broad range of activities that corporations may engage in, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to demonstrate that they are addressing important human rights, environmental, and labor issues—many of which have been brought to their attention by activist groups. November 2006.
Over the past decade, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and as a spin-off, corporate social investment (CSI) has increasingly become a topical subject for most companies and civil society organisations (CSOs). However, despite the fact that the subject has been rehashed in various conferences and seminars, any consensus as to what it really means, has yet to be reached. Consensus is particularly evasive when it comes to the issue of, what exactly constitutes ‘development’ and how it should be achieved. September 2006.
In his 1991 book, In the Absence of the Sacred, Jerry Mander outlined what he called, 11 "Inherent Rules of Corporate Behavior." He aimed to help readers understand that publicly-traded corporations are best understood as machines programmed to accomplish specific results and that corporate behavior was largely independent of the individual morality of its officers and directors. His insights have never been more timely, as they illustrate the severe limitations of promoting "corporate responsibility" and illustrate the essential truth that corporations must be redefined and subordinated to democracy, not merely regulated or pleaded with to do the right thing. May 2006.
As corporations have grown in size they've gained in power and influence. And so has the harm they cause - to communities, nations, the great majority of the public and the planet. Today corporate giants decide who governs and how, who serves on our courts, what laws are enacted and even whether and when wars are fought, against whom and for what purpose or gain. April 2006.
This paper argues that there are fundamental tensions between businesses' lobbying on international trade and investment issues and their attempts to address environmental and social issues through a 'voluntarist' corporate responsibility (CR) agenda, as often efforts to liberalise international trade contribute to inequality and poverty, while the CR agenda attempts to ameliorate these same effects (pdf version).
In the context of a growing debate about the impacts of and resistance to globalization, this paper argues that world development is being undermined by corporate power, yet we are on the cusp of significant changes as societies respond to the challenge. It examines the reaction of civil society in Europe and North America to corporate power, and the emergence of a new corporate accountability movement.
This is a working paper offering a critique of CSR from the perspective of democratic societies and the future of its institutions, especially with regards to the potential impact of CSR on all sectors of civil society and, in particular, on the trade unions and its practices (pdf version).
The image of multinational companies working hard to make the world a better place is often just that - an image, says a new report from Christian Aid. What's needed are new laws to make businesses responsible for protecting human rights and the environment wherever they work.
The One World Trust's Global Accountability Report is the first of its kind to compare the accountability of inter-governmental organizations, transnational corporations and international non-governmental organizations. Eighteen of the world's most powerful organizations are assessed in this pilot report (pdf format).
A drive to make multinationals legally accountable for their investment practices abroad, including the adoption of acceptable labor and environmental standards, has attracted unlikely support from a United Nations human-rights panel.
Over the past decade many high-profile corporations and business or industry associations have responded to civil society and consumer pressures, market opportunities, and new thinking on "good governance" and management by projecting an environmentally - and socially - responsible image.
The United Nations expert on the right to food recommended that UN Member States better monitor transnational companies to protect food supplies for the poor and suggested that non-governmental organizations (NGOs) could play a role in this effort.
Each year The groundWork Report gives an account of the state of environmental justice in South Africa in relation to a focus theme. 'Corporate accountability' was the theme of the first report, released in 2002 (pdf version).
Many mining operations confuse corporate social responsibility with philanthropy and/or hand outs to communities. This analysis suggests that corporate social responsibility reaches beyond labour rights and environmental concerns to include the communities disrupted by corporate activities. Communities have a right of access to housing, health care, and affordable medicines - including anti-retrovirals for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Management and investors will not voluntarily act in the interest of society and the environment. June 2007 (pdf version).
UNRISD organized a two-day conference entitled "Corporate Social Responsibility and Development: Towards a New Agenda?", which was held on the 17th and 18th November 2003 in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland.
A coalition of 170 international companies united by a shared commitment to sustainable development via the three pillars of economic growth, ecological balance and social progress. Its members are drawn from more than 35 countries and 20 major industrial sectors.
Finding the Way Forward reviews the role of voluntary initiatives in the mining industry. Here the term ‘voluntary initiative’ is used to denote coordinated activities undertaken by groups of companies to go beyond the environmental and social performance requirements set by legislation (pdf version).
Realia Group uses experiential exercises to teach individuals and companies the skills necessary to capture the competitive advantages from sustainability -the integration of economic, environmental and social progress.
This project promotes research and policy dialogue on corporate social and environmental responsibility. It examines whether or not transnational corporations and other companies are taking meaningful steps to improve their social and environmental record, particularly in developing countries. The project involves field work in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore and South Africa.
Multi-stakeholder process and independent institution whose mission is to develop and disseminate globally applicable Sustainability Reporting Guidelines. These Guidelines are for voluntary use by organisations for reporting on the economic, environmental, and social dimensions of their activities, products, and services.
The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) is an alliance of companies, trade union and non-government organisations committed to improving working conditions in global supply chains. ETI members commit to require their suppliers to comply with the ETI Base Code: a voluntary code of labour practice developed in 1998. Has ETI improved worker's lives? August 2007.
The Accountability Rating of the world's 100 largest companies has been widened this year to reflect companies' actual social and environmental performance as well as their strategy and processes. The Accountability Rating, devised by csrnetwork and AccountAbility and published annually in Fortune magazine, ranks the Fortune Global 100 companies, examining how successfully they integrate responsible business practices into core activities.
The goal of the Program is to catalyze and enable adoption of a socially and environmentally responsible business practices. In the website, you can find a framework for improving business performance -financial, environmental, and social.
International educational charity set up in 1990 to promote responsible business practices internationally that benefit business and society, and which help to achieve social, economic and environmentally sustainable development, particularly in new and emerging market economies.
This initiative was designed to study, support and promote strategic examples of partnerships involving business, government and civil society working together, with the World Bank Group as an equal partner, for the development of communities around the world.
Private limited company founded by a group of six professionals from finance and social sciences. The company measures the ethical performance of multinational enterprises. Focusing on developing countries, the system allows civil society organizations to raise the awareness of enterprises by communicating their information and feeding the database.
The Living Wages North and South Initiative (TLWNSI) constitutes the sole program of The Jus Semper Global Alliance (TJSGA). TLWNSI is a long-term program developed to contribute to social justice in the world by achieving fair labour endowments for the workers of all the countries immersed in the global market system. It is applied through its program of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
U.S.-based, nonprofit organization dedicated to the development, implementation and oversight of voluntary verifiable social accountability standards. Social Accountability International (SAI) works to improve workplaces and combat sweatshops through the expansion and further development of the currently operative international workplace standard, SA8000, and its associated verification system.
The Guidelines are recommendations addressed by governments to multinational enterprises operating in or from adhering countries. They provide voluntary principles and standards for responsible business conduct in a variety of areas including employment and industrial relations, human rights, environment, information disclosure, competition, taxation, and science and technology.
Growing partnerships between the United Nations system and transnational corporations (TNCs) is not a pragmatic win-win relationship, but one involving multiple agendas and posing problems and UN agencies pursuing this route face a number of hard choices, warns Peter Utting, Project Leader at the UN Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD).
The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), a lobby group with over 7000 corporate members, is a prominent partner in UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's Global Compact and has played a key role in shaping it from the start. While this alliance has provided momentum to the Global Compact, it also seriously undermines its credibility.
Global Compact Critics is an informal network of organizations and people with concerns about the UN Global Compact. On this blog they gather and share information about the Global Compact, partnerships between the United Nations and companies, and corporate accountability.
One day before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon chaired the second "Global Compact Leaders Summit" in Geneva, a group of NGOs sponsored a hearing to assess the UN corporate initiative. Speakers addressed the failure of the Global Compact to hold its signatories accountable for basic human rights, as well as environmental and labor standards. The speakers also discussed how many translational corporations exploit their Global Compact memberships to advance their public relations, and oppose initiatives calling for binding international regulation and "effective independent monitoring and auditing" of corporate activity. August 2007 (pdf version).
The U.N.'s Global Compact with international big business "at the moment is so voluntary that it really is a happy-go-lucky club," says Ramesh Singh, chief executive of ActionAid, a non-governmental organisation. ActionAid and other civil society organisations of global stature, such as Greenpeace, Amnesty International (AI) and the Swiss-based Berne Declaration, fired their criticism at the Global Compact's weakest flank, which is its total lack of legal enforceability. July 2007.
This publication, commissioned by Centre Europe Tiers Monde (CETIM), Geneva Infant Feeding Association (GIFA-IBFAN) and Déclaration de Berne, suggests focusing on two main lines of questioning: (1) What is the value of the Global Compact in terms of changing corporate practices? More specifically, is it an arrangement that helps shift corporate practices towards the better - or is it rather an arrangement that helps corporations continue to do their business as usual and moreover confers on them additional protection from legally-binding regulation and public pressure?; (2) What is the relationship between the Global Compact and global democratic governance? (pdf version).
Thus far, the UN has not removed any company from Compact membership because of guideline violation. Therefore, many NGOs view the Global Compact and its guidelines with considerable skepticism. NGOs in the “Alliance for a Corporate-Free UN” warn that the United Nations is selling-out to the interests of major corporations and a “blue-washing” of companies that violate international standards. Critics view the Compact as an obstacle to progress on corporate accountability, rather than an instrument to promote corporate commitments to environmental sustainability, social protection and human rights.
On Thursday 24 June 2004, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan convened a day-long summit on the ”Global Compact,” inviting more than 400 corporate and civil society leaders to discuss how private business can play a stronger role in making globalization more ”equitable” and ”sustainable”. His words fuelled civil society's concerns about the growing influence of corporations within the United Nations.
Sustainable development has become a mantra for big business and multinational corporations. Worse, it has unwittingly opened the door to the gradual hijacking of the environmental movement by so-called 'corporate realists'.
Perhaps the main problem with the Global Compact is not so much who is involved, its legitimization of big business or even its weak compliance mechanism, but rather the trade-offs and diversions it seems to generate whether by design or default.
The recent report by John Ruggie, special representative of the UN Secretary-General on business and human rights, represents a setback in attempts to establish international control over the activities of transnational corporations. The report makes no mention of the disastrous consequences for the world’s peoples that accompany commercial agreements, bilateral treaties, privatisation and liberalisation policies and obligatory international arbitrations, especially for the most economically vulnerable sectors in developing countries. April 2007.
In recent years, the United Nations (UN) has emerged as one of the principal proponents of public-private partnerships (PPPs), considered by many to be a key instrument of development and an ideal to be emulated. The authors of this paper argue that idealizing the concept and its normative content, as well as the feel-good discourse that infuses much of the mainstream literature, risk diverting attention away from various tensions and contradictions that characterize UN–business partnerships (UN–BPs) and that raise questions about their contribution to equitable development and democratic governance. Both the theory and practice of partnerships suggest that thinking and policy need to go beyond evidence and assumptions about “good governance” and pragmatism. January 2007.
Global network of human rights, environment and development groups working to address undue corporate influence in the United Nations, and to support UN initiatives to hold corporations accountable on issues of human rights, labor rights and the environment. CorpWatch serves as the Alliance secretariat.
This report argues that corporate influence at the UN is already too great, and that new partnerships are leading down a slippery slope toward the partial privatization and commercialization of the UN system itself.
In recent years the United Nations (UN) has increasingly engaged in what it refers to as partnership with the private sector in order to hasten the achievement of the UN's development goals. This idea underpins the United Nations Global Compact, an initiative launched in 2000 that aims to encourage business participants to improve their corporate social and environmental behaviour.
The United Nations and Business site provides information on partnerships and alliances between the UN and the private sector and foundations in furtherance of the UN Millennium Devleopment Goals. It provides guidelines for doing business with the UN and links to web sites of UN offices, agencies, funds and programmes, which have information about partnerships with the Private Sector and with foundations.
groundWork is a non-profit environmental justice service and developmental organization working primarily in South Africa but increasingly in Southern Africa. The primary objective of its project on Corporate Accountability is to develop and launch a united civil society campaign against corporate abuse, in particular against those large multi-national corporations that are responsible for environmental destruction, wide-spread human suffering and pollution-related illnesses.
CorpWatch counters corporate-led globalization through education, network-building and activism. It works to foster democratic control over corporations by building grassroots globalization a diverse movement for human rights and dignity, labor rights and environmental justice.
Corporate Watch examines the oil industry, globalization, genetic engineering, food, toxic chemicals, privatization and many other areas, to build up a picture of almost every type of corporate crime and the nature and mechanisms of corporate power, both economic and political.
The Office of the Global Compact received the Greenwash Academy Award for Best Supporting UN Agency for allowing corporations to ally with the UN without committing to following its principles. The Greenwash Academy comprises groundWork, CorpWatch and Friends of the Earth International. August 23, 2002, Johannesburg.
July 23 marked the end of a two and a half year process carried out by the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal (TPP) in Bogotá, Colombia. A panel of international judges, including a Supreme Court justice from Italy, a handful of university professors, a Nobel Laureate, and authorities from the Guambiano and Mapuche nations presided over the final session of the TPP. The final verdict, read to the large crowd, summarized much of Colombia’s recent history, condemning the Colombian government, 43 multinational corporations, and the U.S. government for their role in the violence that has long dominated the lives of Colombians. The audience was made up of people from a broad spectrum of social movements and organizations from around the country, and listened rapt during the reading of the sentence. August 2008.
There are tectonic stresses building beneath the surface of our society that threaten a global earthquake unlike any we’ve seen in recent history. Global warming is accelerating; fossil fuels are being rapidly exhausted; critical eco-systems have been severely damaged; and the income gap between rich and poor is increasing rapidly. The root cause of most of these problems can be found in the excessive power of global corporations. To solve these problems, civil society must bring corporations back under its control. October 2007 (pdf version).
The Permanent Peoples' Tribunal held in Vienna in May 2006 heard cases in relation to the social, economic and environmental impacts caused by the activities of European-based corporations operating in Latin America and the Caribbean. These covered five thematic areas: public services, natural resources, food and agriculture, the financial system and labour. Summaries and full reports of all 27 cases are now online and available for download. August 2007.
The market-based economic policies of the Washington Consensus - deregulation, privatization, and financial and trade liberalization - have detrimentally impacted women's position in the labour market and their unpaid work burdens, as well as their access to land, safe food and water, education, technology, shelter, health care and other forms of social protection. To expose and resist corporate activities that violate women's rights, the Women's Environment & Development Organization (WEDO) has launched a new site named MisFortune500. June 2006.
This Website aims to facilitate the flow of information among NGOs and social movements who believe their governments, private sector and civil society need to make greater efforts to ensure the accountability of business and industry, especially Transnational Corporations, to society.
OECD Watch is an international network of NGO's promoting corporate accountability. Its purpose is to inform the wider NGO community about policies and activities of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Investment Committee and to test the effectiveness of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. Site available in english, french and spanish.
Over half of the world's 100 largest economic entities are transnational corporations (TNCs), not nations. TNCs have unprecedented power to shape social, economic and trade policies. Corporate hegemony is usurping the role and responsibilities of national governments, threatening democracy and human rights.
In its work, the CBG assumes that the large multi-national companies are decisively responsible for the global ecological, social, ethical and political problems. The CBG sees BAYER as one of the trendsetters in the chemical industry and an example of multi-national company policy.
European-based research and campaign group targeting the threats to democracy, equity, social justice and the environment posed by the economic and political power of corporations and their lobby groups.
The purpose of the Guide is to provide trade unionists with a straightforward guide to the “Social Responsibility” or “Sustainability” reports that are increasingly being produced by many major companies. May 2008 (pdf).
The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future of the modern business corporation and the increasing role it plays in society and our everyday lives.
They come every year - a flood of sometimes glossy reports from companies eager to tell you what they're doing right. They'll tout a new environmental program or community donations. But do these corporate social-responsibility reports reveal challenges and failures, too? Do they tell the whole truth? To find out, the Monitor's Laurent Belsie sat down with two experts who help companies put out these reports. Andrew Brengle is a senior analyst with KLD Research & Analytics, a social research firm in Boston. Jeff Erikson is US director of SustainAbility Inc., a consulting firm and think tank with offices in Washington. Here are edited excerpts of their conversation. December 2006.
This report highlights key developments and recent trends in the areas of Energy for Sustainable Development, Industrial Development, Atmosphere/Air Pollution and Climate Change — the four interrelated topics being considered by the Commission on Sustainable Development at its 14th and 15th sessions (2006-07). It notes progress in a number of areas while, at the same time, acknowledging that in other areas signifi cant work is still needed to advance implementation of intergovernmentally agreed goals and targets. May 2006 (pdf version).
Business and Human Rights Resource Center's website tracks corporate actions in human rights for 2,000 companies. A tool for consumers, investors, companies, campaigners, and journalists. It brings abuses to international attention, including discrimination, pesticide poisoning; child labor, drinking water contamination; sexual abuse, and the displacement of indigenous peoples. The site highlights positive steps companies are taking, such as promoting diversity, increasing access to HIV/AIDS drugs, reducing harmful emissions, and improving working conditions in their supply chain.
Seventh Survey on the effect given to the Tripartite Declaration of Principles concerning Multnational Enterprises and Social Policy: analytical report of the Working Group on the reports submitted by governments and by employers' and workers' organizations (Part I).
After more than two years of work, the ICJ Panel made public the results of its work in three separate volumes each one addressing corporate complicity in gross human rights violations from different angles. October 2008.
Presented directly to Members of the 8th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva during the first week of June 2008, this Collective Report on Business and Human Rights by civil society organizations aims to bring light to situations in which companies have harmed the enjoyment of human rights. July 2008.
Here is KAIROS’ June Statement on the report on business and human rights by the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Dr. John Ruggie. It is entitled “Protect, Respect and Remedy: a Framework for Business and Human Rights”. The Special Representative does not recommend that home States enact legislation to hold companies accountable for human rights abuses in their international operations. June 2008.
Global Policy Forum’s Jens Martens gives a critical analysis of the 2008 report by UN Special Representative for Business and Human Rights John Ruggie – “Protect, Respect and Remedy: a Framework for Business and Human Rights.” Martens calls the report “a description of the status quo” that does not leave the door open for developing new ideas on international law and corporate responsibility. Martens offers concrete steps, based on Ruggie’s recommendations, towards increasing corporate accountability, such as creating an International Advisory Center, using Security Council sanctions and strengthening national complaints mechanisms. June 2008 (pdf).
Responding to the invitation by the Human Rights Council for the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises to submit his views and recommendations for its consideration, this report presents a conceptual and policy framework to anchor the business and human rights debate, and to help guide all relevant actors. The framework comprises three core principles: the State duty to protect against human rights abuses by third parties, including business; the corporate responsibility to respect human rights; and the need for more effective access to remedies. The three principles form a complementary whole in that each supports the others in achieving sustainable progress. April 2008 (pdf version).
The Global Compact Office and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights have released the second edition in the Embedding Human Rights in Business Practice series. The publication has been produced in the context of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and features 20 case studies from Global Compact signatories around the world outlining policies and practices to implement human rights within their own operations and spheres of influence. March 2008.
The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre in London published on its website a link to the article "Volvo: Symbol of safety or human rights abuses?", by Adri Nieuwhof, and asked the company to respond. The article highlights the use of Volvo construction machinery by the Israeli military as a tool in the occupation, which is the reason behind recent calls for economic pressure on Volvo. Mr. M. Wikforss, Vice President of Media Relations & Corporate News of Volvo Group wrote a letter in response, which is also published on the Resource Centre's website. In this article Nieuwhof reacts to Volvo's arguments. July 2007.
The world's major oil companies are responding to years of public pressure to address human rights concerns tied to their operations in second- and third-world countries. Several companies have come out with explicit human rights protection policy statements, in what human rights groups have called a promising first step. September 2006.
This position paper seeks to contribute to the mandate of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises, Mr. John Ruggie. April 2006.
In many countries government regulation and enforcement are inadequate to protect individuals when corporate activities negatively impact on the human rights of their workforce or the communities where they operate. The ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group has assembled a set of case studies related to the extract industries that reveal patterns of violations and gaps in the protection of human rights, including environmental and indigenous peoples’ rights. (PDF document). February 2006.
On 20 April 2005, the UN Commission on Human Rights adopted a resolution that requests the Secretary General to appoint a Special Representative on business and human rights. Over the past several months, members of the ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group have been actively lobbying and educating on behalf of the UN Human Rights Norms for Business, in order to strengthen corporate accountability. April 2005
With the recent wave of economic globalization, corporations have become powerful actors, able to shape policy and to operate across national boundaries, limiting the capacity of individual governments to consistently regulate corporate activities. Largely due to challenges from civil society against corporate human rights abuses, a number of voluntary initiatives have been developed over the past couple decades. While representing a valuable first step, these voluntary standards often lack international legitimacy; have no independent monitoring; and do not provide adequate accountability mechanisms. Very few codes refer to human rights, and if they do so, it is only in general terms. The UN Human Rights Norms for Business (UN Norms) represent an important step forward, providing a common and comprehensive international statement of the human rights responsibilities of companies. January 2005 (pdf version).
Shortly after the release of the report about the Abu Ghraib torture scandale by The New Yorker on April 30, 2004, it became clear that this maltreatment of prisoners had a certain structure, pattern and goals. Existing commentary focuses on the interrogation methods by state actors, such as Military Intelligence, Military Police and Armed Forces of the U.S. led occupational forces. Instead, this article focuses on non-state actors – primarily, private contractors and their employees. December 2004 (pdf version).
Amnesty International is very concerned that civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights are being violated and abused in the process of the oil exploration and production in the Niger Delta. November 2004.
The International Network for Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights invites to endorse this joint document which will present to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in Geneva, on 22 October 2004. The initiative is part of the campaign in support of the UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights. September 2004.
Human rights organizations have addressed concerns to businesses for a number of years. Recognizing that economic globalization has expanded the reach of corporate power, advocates have struggled to ensure that companies, no less than other significant actors, are brought within the framework of international human rights rules. A significant step in this direction was taken in August 2003 by the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights when it approved the UN Norms on the Responsibilities of Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises with Regard to Human Rights. This booklet -published by Amnesty International in 2004- provides an introduction to the UN Human Rights Norms for Business. It answers a number of questions about the UN Norms and their legal status, and includes an overview of their development, background on the drafting process, and a description of the content and legal status of the UN Norms. The text of the UN Norms and their Commentary are reproduced on pages 20-35 (pdf version).
The issue of human rights is central to good corporate citizenship and to a healthy bottom line. Many companies find strength in their human rights records; others suffer the consequences of ignoring this vital part of corporate life. Today, human rights is a key performance indicator for corporations all over the world. Preface by Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Human Rights for Workers focuses on how globalization affects working men and women and on how it creates the need to incorporate the human rights of workers into global rules at the national, regional, and international levels through governmental, quasi-governmental, private business, labor union, and other non-governmental channels. HRFW is replete with Web links to groups that address this agenda.
Alliance of companies, NGOs, and trade union organizations committed to working together to identify and promote ethical trade -good practice in the implementation of a code of conduct for good labour standards, including the monitoring and independent verification of the observance of ethics code provisions, as standards for ethical sourcing.
For the business community, sustainability is more than mere window-dressing. By adopting sustainable practices, companies can gain competitive edge, increase their market share, and boost shareholder value.
Global network of senior business leaders from Europe, Japan, and North America committed to principled business leadership, who believe that business has a crucial role in developing and promoting equitable solutions to key global issues.
Sustainable Business uses the Internet to accelerate the spread of sustainable business practices by increasing market penetration of sustainable products, services, and the companies that produce them.
Consulting group based in New York City that provides expertise to multinational companies, non-governmental and multilateral organizations seeking to align their business practices with human rights standards around the world.
This document presents examples of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives within the context of children's issues in India, Nepal and Bangladesh. According to the study, CSR initiatives for children have a positive impact and in some cases can be more effective than Government or NGO led initiatives. Yet, children's issues often do not get sufficient consideration in the corporate agenda. Moreover, most of the CSR initiatives that do target children often follow the welfare approach. The programmes seldom involve children as social actors and partners in their own development. Also, more needs to be done to build partnerships with the government and civil society institutions to make the initatives more effective. August 2007 (pdf version).
The United Nations Global Compact, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Global Leadership Network (GLN) research team at AccountAbility and the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship in London have created a joint partnership to promote the integration of responsible business practices into core business strategy. This partnership was launched at the UN Global Compact Summit on 5-6 July 2007 in Geneva. The four partners have launched an exclusive website for UN Global Compact signatories, IFC clients and the wider private sector in emerging markets. The website provides free access to GLN’s interactive tool. July 2007.
The UN Global Compact and the Barcelona Centre for the Support of the Global Compact launched the first comprehensive survey of Global Compact Local Networks. The report presents a detailed analysis of 90 emerging and existing networks and showcases numerous examples of network activities from all regions of the world. The report presents lessons learned regarding how networks emerge and are sustained, as well as how they deliver local results and contribute to the overall mission of the UN Global Compact. December 2007 (pdf version).
The Compact Quarterly endeavors to provide Global Compact participants, stakeholders and observers with a range of thought-provoking articles, interviews and updates on topics related to the initiative, as well as to corporate responsibility in general. The Compact Quarterly, produced by the Global Compact Office, is published four times a year -- at the beginning of each calendar quarter -- and appears in electronic form.
Searchable database of all Global Compact participants, including links to companies' Communications on Progress (COP) and other relevant examples of corporate practice (Case Stories) in implementing the Global Compact's ten principles. This database is updated on a daily basis.
Leaders of corporations, international labour and civil society, in addition to select government ministers held this summit on 24 June 2004 at the UN headquarters in New York. A Global Compact Counter-Summit was held on 23 June by members of international civil society.
This briefing aims to inform NGOs and other civil society organisations about the ISO Working Group on Social Responsibility. This Working Group is currently developing an international standard that will give guidance to organisations on social responsibility: the ISO 26000 standard. The Working Group initiated its work in 2004 and is expected to deliver the guidance standard in the second half of 2009. The authors of this briefing argue that it is still worthwhile for NGOs and other civil society organisations to start participating in the development of the standard. At this stage of the process, there are many possibilities to influence the drafting of the standard significantly. March 2007 (pdf version).
The Coca-Cola company has continued to accuse campaigners in India of making erroneous statements "not based on facts" and have claimed that the only reason they are targets of the campaign is because they are a well known brand. Earlier this year, however, Coca-Cola got a rude awakening when an assessment of their operations in India that they paid for and conducted by an ally of Coca-Cola validated what the communities have been saying all along. March 2008.
Many mining operations confuse corporate social responsibility with philanthropy and/or hand outs to communities. An analysis of the platinum mining industry in South Africa suggests that corporate social responsibility reaches beyond labour rights and environmental concerns to include the communities disrupted by corporate activities. Communities have a right of access to housing, health care, and affordable medicines - including anti-retrovirals for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. Management and investors will not voluntarily act in the interest of society and the environment. (PDF document). July 2007.
Canadian-owned Barrick Gold, the world's largest gold producer, is exploring, building and operating huge, open-pit gold mines on nearly every continent on the planet. On average, gold mining today produces 70 tons of waste for every ounce of gold, while also consuming and polluting massive amounts of water. An estimated 50 percent of these mining operations occur on native lands. A new CorpWatch report details the operations of Barrick gold in nine different countries, focusing on the efforts on the part of the communities to seek justice from this powerful multinational. May 2007.
The report, Why Corporate Social Responsibility is Failing Children, by Save the Children and The Corporate Responsibility (CORE) Coalition, reviews three voluntary codes for companies and reveals that all three have been violated by leading companies. The report concludes that voluntary initiatives alone are wholly inadequate as a means of improving the lives of children. This is because they fail to be enforced and because they attract only a small sub-section of companies in each sector. March 2007.
Not only does South Africa, in commercial relations with her African trade partners, propose and actively bargain for implementation of neoliberal policies that singularly benefit South African corporations, but she also makes sure that the operations of the same corporations in the other African countries are, as far as is legally possible, insured by the South African government against unforeseen business vicissitudes -- liberalization with an assuring touch!. This gives South African business tremendous leverage in inter-African trading relationships and has resulted in markedly unfair trading advantages for South Africa vis a vis her African partners. July 2006 (pdf version).
Perhaps the cola companies know something that we do not? Are Indians immune to high levels of pesticides? It is time for the cola companies to provide details of the studies they must have conducted to convince themselves that the average Indian can consume pesticides safely at levels 24 times the average American and European. It is difficult to fathom the business logic of a company that boasts of having one global standard, yet three years after being rapped by the Indian government, continues to sell products in India without making any improvements. August 2006.
The Tata Group, one of India's biggest and oldest multinationals, has taken over tribal land to build an enormous steel plant in Orissa. A clash between the traditional owners of the land and the police has resulted in numerous injuries and deaths, calling into the question the prestigious family-owned company's philanthropic image. May 2006.
The US retail giant Wal-Mart has spread its tentacles to Third World countries such as China and Brazil. While most people know Wal-Mart as a place for economy shopping, few are aware that it is now a formidable corporate lobbyist and a top corporate contributor to political campaigns. February 2005.
Although the pharmaceutical giant Merck knew about the lethality of side effects of its largest selling product Vioxx as early as 2000, it did not take appropriate measures immediately and only recalled the drug in September 2004.
Over the last year-and-a-half, an agitation has been building up against a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Kaladera and adjoining villages near Jaipur, Rajasthan. With the intense anti-Coca-Cola sentiment in this area, about thirty villages and a number of organizations have mobilized under the banner of Jan Sangharsh Samiti (People's Committee for Struggle). Farmers from these villages hold Coca-Cola primarily responsible for declining ground water levels in the region and the resultant harm to local agriculture. October 2004.
This report will highlight Shells poor performance as a leading corporate social responsibility advocate, its failure to address the concerns of Shell fenceline communities from last year’s AGM and the link between Shell’s exaggerated oil reserves fiasco and its exaggerated cliams about its social and environmental performance in order to highlight the need for urgent reform of UK company law and Shells attitude to fenceline communities (pdf version).
Consider for a moment what terror is: ‘extreme fear, fear that agitates body and mind, violent dread’ and that which causes and excites these feelings. This is how Webster's Dictionary defines terror. On the night of 3 December 1984, thousands of people in Bhopal, India suffered terror beyond definition.
An international coalition of development, environment and human rights non-governmental groups have denounced the Global Compact between the United Nations system and global corporations, and the UN guidelines for cooperation between the UN and the corporations, and have asked the UN Secretary-General to re-evaluate the partnership.
The UN flagship initiative on corporate responsibility - the Global Compact - is failing to stop corporate human rights violations, says ActionAid ahead of a UN summit on corporate responsibly in Geneva. "What is needed are legally-binding regulations to control corporate activities with respect to human rights", the international organization said. July 2007.
The Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (Guidelines) are a set of voluntary principals and standards adopted by governments to which multinational enterprises operating in or from Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) member countries are expected to adhere. In 2000, the Guidelines were revised. After lengthy negotiations, a new implementation mechanism was agreed giving NGOs for the first time the right to submit complaints concerning the activities of companies to OECD members. September 2005, pdf format.
Statement by Amnesty International, The Ethical Globalization Initiative, Global Witness, Human Rights First, International Save the Children Alliance, Oxfam International. "The aforementioned NGOs participating in the UN Global Compact Leaders Summit recognize the critical role companies play in promoting and protecting human rights and safeguarding the environment. To this end we support the efforts of the Global Compact to bring the United Nation's unique authority to bear on the commitments that companies should make to uphold labour rights, protect the environment and human rights."
"We have come together on the occasion of the Global Compact 'Counter Summit' in New York on June 23rd 2004 to examine critically the Global Compact and the corporate partnership approach it represents. We call on the United Nations to deliver real corporate accountability in a legal framework."
Human Rights First, an NGO member of the Global Compact, expresses "serious concerns" about the compact's credibility and effectiveness. The organization calls on the UN to "implement much stronger systems of accountability, a more transparent process for evaluating company participation, and a more results-oriented approach to its work." June 2004.
Business involvement in philanthropy is increasing day by day, but is it a blessing, a curse, or somewhere in between? Just Another Emperor? is the first book to take a comprehensive and critical look at this vital new phenomenon. Whatever position you take, this will be one of the most important debates of the next 10 years. April 2008.