Monday, December 24, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - December 19, 2007

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 19 December

CLICK THIS LINK FOR ALL TOP STORIES added past 7 days / Principales
noticias / Articles de premier plan:

The top stories include / Las noticias incluyen / Les articles

* Multi-stakeholder initiatives: Summary report on meeting in the Hague
hosted by John Ruggie, UN Special Representative on business & human
rights, 6-7 Nov 2007
- Background paper: "Principles that make for effective governance of
multi-stakeholder initiatives"

* USA: Briefing prepared by Fried Frank law firm for John Ruggie:
"Trends in the Use of Corporate Law and Shareholder Activism to Increase
Corporate Responsibility and Accountability for Human Rights"

* China: Workers in Junxingye factory making crucifixes for religious
gift shops in US work 15-hour days in poor conditions, says Natl. Labor
Committee (USA)
- Response by Full Start (Junxingye factory parent company)
- Article with response by Singer (US company distributing the

* Sri Lanka: 42 companies sign up for new code of conduct against
workplace sexual harassment

* Intl. Migrants' Day, 18 Dec - 4 items:

- Intl. Organization for Migration (IOM) calls for respect of migrant
workers' rights - co-operation between govts., relevant agencies,
private sector

- So. and E. Africa: 2008 project by IOM will research trafficking of
men for exploitative labour

- Human Rights Watch & migrant groups call on 22 Asian & Middle Eastern
govts. involved in "Colombo Process" on migrant workers to implement

- USA: Forced labour & exploitation of migrant workers in Florida's
fruit-picking industry (Independent, UK)

* India: Govt. proposes policy to protect tribal population from
displacement by companies, Special Economic Zones

* Further to last week's Update:
- Abbott Laboratories response to Oxfam's report "Investing for Life"
- Wyeth has not responded

* Sierra Leone: Govt. halts work at Koidu Holdings diamond mine after 2
die & several injured when police disperse protest

* US law firms including Arent Fox in partnership with US & Afghan
Govts. to reform Afghan judiciary

* China: New website names over 4000 high-polluters - including Chinese
& foreign companies

* Mexico, Guatemala & Jamaica: USAID supports business-led initiatives
to combat HIV/AIDS discrimination

* Further to last week's Update, regarding Dream for Darfur call on
Olympic sponsors to raise Sudan concerns with Chinese Govt.
- CSR Asia overview: "Sudan, the Beijing Olympics and its corporate
- Visa response

* Further to last week's Update, regarding War on Want report "Fanning
the Flames":
- BHP Billiton says it has nothing to add to the response by Intl.
Council on Mining & Metals, advises readers to review its Sustainability
- Xstrata has said it will provide a response

* Español: Colombia: Fiscalía investiga por primera vez a directivos de
empresas bananeras por nexos con paramilitares

* Español: México: ONG CEMDA alerta sobre riesgos a la salud de medio
millar de personas por un basurero de empresa Confinam
- Secretaría del Ambiente había autorizado la construcción de un
relleno sanitario, pero no para confinar desechos tóxicos

* Español: España: El Consejo Económico y Social catalán crea
institución para impulsar las buenas prácticas entre las pequeñas empresas

* Français : France : Ministre d'état & de l'écologie propose une
responsabilité élargie des entreprises pour les obligations
environnementales des filiales

* Français : UNICEF, Google, One Laptop per Child lancent un programme
pour promouvoir le dialogue entre enfants à travers le monde

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Event notice: Ethical Investing 101

"Ethical Investing 101"
Amnesty International Canada - January 22, 2008

Amnesty International Canada is proud to host “Ethical Investing 101”, an educational panel discussion developed to provide tools and information to any investor who wants to ensure their investments make a more positive social and environmental impact. This evening forum will bring together both investors and investment professionals. You will hear from community leaders and individuals with experience discussing the evening's theme.

Theme: Tools for the Ethical Investor”

The highly interactive forum will include presentations and panel experts from:
  • Amnesty International Canada
  • The Ethical Funds Company
  • Inhance Investment Management Inc.
  • SHARE (Shareholder Association for Research and Education
Speakers will address the following questions:
  • What is “ethical investing” and how can it contribute to positive social and environmental change?
  • What are the different types of “ethical” funds?
  • What does positive vs. negative screening mean?
  • What is shareholder activism?
Date: Tuesday January 22, 2008
Time: 6:30 pm – 9:00pm
SFU Harbour Centre – Labatt Hall (Room 1700)
515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver BC, V6B 5K3
Suggested donation:
$10 / $5 Students

Registration required RSVP with name and contact to

About Amnesty International
Share Power is a component of Amnesty International Canada's Business and Human Rights campaign. It harnesses the powerful connection between individuals and companies to advocate for business practices that support the human rights and wellbeing of citizens in the countries in which they operate. For more information on the Amnesty International Share Power campaign, please visit

“Ethical Investing 101” is an event open to anyone who values the act of investing in stronger communities!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Amnesty report is critical of current government's performance

Today, Amnesty International released a report on the recent performance of the Canadian government in the international arena, called Canada and the International Protection of Human Rights: An Erosion of Leadership. The report is critical in a number of areas, with focus on
• the human rights of Indigenous Peoples;
• strengthening the UN human rights system;
• the death penalty; and
• consistently raising concerns about human rights violations in other countries.
There were references to business & human rights in the report. It criticizes the Harper government's support for the Colombian government, which has a horrible human rights record, and its pursuit of a trade deal with Colombia. (Earlier in the report, we learn that the Colombian government was one of the only six others to join the Canadian government in calling for a redrafting of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in June 2007).

They also make recommendations related to business & human rights. Here is the full text:
•Amnesty International is concerned that the government has yet to respond to the Final Report and recommendations of the government-initiated National
Advisory Group to the Corporate Social Responsibility Roundtables on setting standards for Canadian extractives companies operating overseas. There are currently no national standards for Canadian companies overseas and there are concerns that companies operating in areas with weak, unenforced or nonexistent human rights laws may commit or contribute to human rights violations – and get away with it. By agreeing to adopt the Advisory Group recommendations, which include mechanisms for investigating and reporting on complaints and tying government support to compliance, Canada could become a world leader in corporate social responsibility.

• Amnesty International remains concerned that trade and investment agreements and negotiations do not refer explicitly to the full spectrum of international human rights norms and concrete mechanisms for ensuring those norms are respected. Amnesty International has urged the government to undertake human rights impact assessments of trade rules during negotiations and following the adoption of new agreements.

• Amnesty International was particularly concerned that the human rights shortcomings in Canada’s trade policy were starkly illustrated in the government’s approach to pressing ahead this year with plans to negotiate a new trade deal with Colombia. Amnesty International called for an approach that would ensure that human rights obligations would meaningfully be enshrined in any trade arrangement negotiated with Colombia.

• Amnesty International has, for several years, urged Canada and other governments to work towards the adoption of international level standards with respect to the human rights responsibilities of business. A draft set of norms developed within the UN human rights system has not been adopted by governments. However, a UN-level process considering issues with respect to the human rights responsibilities of business continues, overseen by the UN Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises. Amnesty
International has joined 239 other organizations, socially responsible investment
firms, and individuals in an open letter to Professor Ruggie outlining our views on how he might use the remainder of his mandate to most effectively advance human rights protection in a business context. As a leading country in the global
extractives sector, Canada should engage in that process with an eye to developing strong international standards regarding the human rights responsibilities of business.

• Amnesty International continues to monitor the implementation of internationally recognized Indigenous rights standards by extractives companies and the Canadian government. Several issues are at stake, the most notable being the principle of free, prior and informed consent. It is clear that across Canada resource extraction is proceeding in situations where this requirement has not been met. The federal and provincial governments must ensure full incorporation of the principle of free, prior and informed consent into law and practice, thus reducing risk and uncertainty for business and bringing Canada’s land use policies into line with its national and international obligations.
Read the full report here.

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - December 12, 2007

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:Weekly Update: 
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 12 December

CLICK THIS LINK FOR ALL TOP STORIES added past 7 days / Principales
noticias / Articles de premier plan:

The top stories include / Las noticias incluyen / Les articles

* Summary report on meeting convened by UN Special Representative John
Ruggie, Copenhagen, 8-9 Nov 2007, "Business & Human Rights: The Role of

* Olympic Dream for Darfur calls on Olympic corporate sponsors to raise
Sudan concerns with Chinese Govt.
- Responses by adidas, Anheuser-Busch, Atos Origin, Coca-Cola, Kodak,
GE, Lenovo, McDonald's, Microsoft, Panasonic, Samsung, Staples, Swatch,
- BHP Billiton, Johnson & Johnson, Manulife, UPS, Visa did not respond

* Oxfam report "Investing for Life" says drug companies not doing
enough to provide access to medicines for the poor - makes recommendations
for "responsible business practices"
- Responses by AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis
- Abbott Laboratories, Pfizer have indicated they will respond
- Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Roche,
Sanofi-Aventis have not responded

* "Fanning the Flames": War on Want report alleges UK mining companies
involved in human rights abuses overseas
- Responses by Anglo American, Global Coal Management, Monterrico
Metals, Oxus Gold, Rio Tinto, Vedanta, Intl. Council on Mining & Metals
- BHP Billiton, Xstrata did not respond
- AngloGold Ashanti said it has nothing to add to the Anglo American &
ICMM responses
- Statement by Sibuyan Nickel Property Development Corp (SNPDC)

* Human rights guidelines for pharmaceuticals by UN Rapporteur on right
to health: draft open for comments until 31 Dec

* Human Rights Watch recommendations for companies doing business with

* UK Prime Minister calls on companies including Google, Vodafone,
Goldman Sachs, Wal-Mart to help progress towards Millennium Development

* Update on study by John Ruggie and IFC on investment agreements and
human rights

* The "Elders", including Mary Robinson, Desmond Tutu, Graça Machel
launch campaign to raise awareness of Universal Declaration of Human
Rights during its 60th anniversary year: will work with partners including
civil society, business

* Brazil: 6 people, including owner of security company NF Segurança,
sentenced over killings during protest at Syngenta genetically modified
seed farm

* Italy: Thousands in Turin protest following death of 4 workers in
fire at ThyssenKrupp steel plant
- Govt. investigation launched - ThyssenKrupp says it has continuously
kept safety standards high

* UNICEF, Google & NGO "One Laptop per Child" launch One Voice
initiative promoting dialogue by children across borders & cultures

* UN Global Compact, High Commissioner for Human Rights call on
companies to advance human rights during Universal Declaration's 60th
anniversary year

* Rep. of Congo: US "vulture funds" criticised for inhibiting poverty
alleviation by suing to recover debts; but anticorruption campaigners
say they help improve transparency

* World Bank and Merck launch initiative to raise $50 million to fight
river blindness in 28 African countries

* audio: Michael Conroy: "Branded! How the Certification Revolution is
Transforming Global Corporations"

* Español: Paraguay: Ministro de Justicia y Trabajo interviene
supermercado Stock por trabajo infantil y controlará otros supermercados

* Español: Brasil: Ministerio Público condena a dueño de empresa de
seguridad NF Segurança por asesinato de activista de MST en protesta
contra Syngenta

* Español: España: Acciona Energía fomenta modelos energéticos
renovables para reducir emisión de CO2

* Español: España: Fundación Secretariado Gitano evalúa su programa de
acceso al empleo para gitanos: se han atendido a 35.000 personas

* Español: Guatemala: Fundación Menchú acusa al gobierno de defender
intereses de minera canadiense Goldcorp por encima de derechos de

* Français : France : 27 ouvriers poursuivent Bosch en justice pour
discrimination contre femmes et étrangers

* Français : 46 multinationales lancent une initiative "climat", y
compris Alstom, Areva, Suez, Vattenfall, Veolia

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Stop Canada-Colombia trade negotiations

I just received this via e-mail from Make Poverty History. I will put up background information on this over the next while, but I wanted to get this out to get people thinking about it. I'm still in the process of accumulating info on this.
I am writing to you today to ask for your help in stopping a dangerous trade deal that you have probably never heard of. The government of Canada is negotiating a trade deal with Colombia, a country that Human Rights Watch calls the “worst human rights and humanitarian disaster” in the Americas.

This controversial deal will make many poor in Colombia worse off and help support a government involved in serious human rights abuses. The US Congress refused to approve a similar deal earlier this year, citing human rights abuses. If Canadians don’t speak up, this deal can be passed without parliamentary approval or public debate.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Write to your Member of Parliament and insist that this deal not go through without a full debate in Parliament and the explicit approval of our elected representatives >>

There is not much time – negotiations are underway, and are set to be completed before the end of the year. Millions of people in Colombia have been displaced through a violent conflict over land and resources. Transnational companies have become complicit in this violence. Many people living in poverty in Colombia are concerned that this deal increases the power of corporations at the expense of the poor.

Act in solidarity with Colombian social justice activists. Tell others that trade is a matter that affects poverty and human rights, and that you care. Speak out now!
Dennis Howlett picture

Dennis Howlett
Make Poverty History

PS. If you want to hear from a Colombian about their concerns regarding the deal, check out the interview with Bishop Juan Alberto Cardona of the Methodist Church of Colombia at

PPS. Many thanks to the more than 9,000 people who signed the petition to the Senate to pass the Better Aid Bill last week. We will send you an update soon, but if you haven't signed the petition yet, please do.

Note: if you do not wish to receive further mailings, please go to to unsubscribe.

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - December 5, 2007

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre.
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 5 December

CLICK THIS LINK FOR ALL TOP STORIES added past 7 days / Principales
noticias / Articles de premier plan:

The top stories include / Las noticias incluyen / Les articles

* Launch of the Sir Geoffrey Chandler speaker series, hosted by
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
- "Business & human rights: Reflections on progress made and challenges
ahead" - Presentation by Sir Geoffrey Chandler
- "A perspective from China", Roddy Shaw Kwok-wah
- "A perspective from Africa", Abiola Okpechi

* Indian court issues intl. arrest warrants for 8 Dutch labour rights
advocates, in lawsuit brought by Fibres & Fabrics International
- Ruling "flies in the face of India's obligations to uphold freedom of
speech", says India Committee of the Netherlands

* India: Govt. asks exporters from five key sectors to prepare plan for
child labour abolition & conduct annual audits
- Request follows US proposed action against imported goods made using
child labour

* Zambia: Comments by Action for Southern Africa, SCIAF, Christian Aid
on Vedanta's response to "Undermining Development"

* Poster: "A Human Rights Framework" for business - in English, French,
Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Russian
- By UN Global Compact, Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights,

* UK: 2 Muslim brokers sue Compagnie Financière Tradition alleging
discrimination in way clients are allocated

* World AIDS Day: 1 Dec 2007 - how the private sector is addressing &
failing to address the crisis

* UN Secretary-General calls for end to job discrimination against
disabled people

* "Electronics multinationals and labour rights in Mexico" - includes
company responses

* "Human Security & Business": New book by Marc Probst & Benjamin
Leisinger, edited by Swiss Federal Dept. of Foreign Affairs

* 150 global business leaders call for legally binding framework on
climate change at Bali conference

* Español: Ecuador: 3 provincias demandan a DynCorp en Washington por
efectos "dañinos" de fumigaciones

* Español: México: Continúan conversaciones entre empresa CFE y
ejidatarios opuestos a represa La Parota, después de sentencia de jueza
contraria a ejidatarios y recurso a la sentencia por parte de éstos y de ONG

* Español: Nuevo cartel dirigido a empresas: "Un marco de derechos
humanos" (hecho por el Pacto Mundial, BLIHR, IBLF, Oficina del Alto
Comisionado de la ONU para los Derechos Humanos)

* Français : "Un cadre relatif aux droits de l'homme", nouvelle affiche
pour les entreprises produite par le Pacte Mondial, Business Leaders
Initiative on Human Rights, OHCHR, IBLF

* Français : Le changement climatique n'est pas une priorité pour les
compagnies indiennes, selon Carbon Disclosure Project

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - November 28, 2007

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 28 November

CLICK THIS LINK FOR ALL TOP STORIES added past 7 days / Principales
noticias / Articles de premier plan:

The top stories include / Las noticias incluyen / Les articles

* India: Supreme Court stalls Vedanta's bauxite project in Orissa due
to environmental, displacement concerns

* Guinea: Rio Tinto Alcan partners with UNDP, govt. and local NGO to
encourage progress towards Millennium Development Goals

* World AIDS Day: 1 Dec 2007 - how the private sector is addressing &
failing to address the crisis
- Special webpage will be updated daily until the event
- Refers to positive steps by Standard Chartered, Virgin, Coca-Cola,
Quality Chemical Industries, Cipla, Electricity Company of Ghana, CEOs of
20 Kenyan companies, others

* Tanzania: Human rights & poverty concerns regarding Barrick Gold mine
raised during Canadian Prime Minister's visit to the country
- Article includes comments by Barrick Gold

* Amnesty USA & investor coalition call on investment firms that own
stock in oil companies in Sudan to press for change in Darfur
- Includes responses of 10 investment firms; 31 others have not

* India: Extensive study finds employment discrimination persists
against Muslims and Dalits

* Hungary: Korean company Hankook Tire fined for labour abuses, govt.
cancels subsidy

* Saudi Arabia: 40 killed in Aramco gas pipeline blast - mostly So.
Asian immigrant workers

* As India emerges as economic power, "firms cannot be silent on human
rights", says Arvind Ganesan of Human Rights Watch

* Google to invest "hundreds of millions" of dollars developing
renewable energy technologies

* So. Korean Natl. Human Rights Commission raises concerns about
electronic monitoring of employees by companies

* Business & climate change:
- Carbon Disclosure Project: Indian & So. African companies' records in
combating climate change
- Confederation of British Industry report urges companies to address
climate change - article includes NGO reaction

* Español: México: Encuesta encuentra que 80% de profesionistas sufren
discriminación laboral - la mayoría por su edad

* Español: México: Cemefi y El Economista lanzan suplemento mensual
sobre Responsabilidad Social

* Français : Guinée : Rio Tinto Alcan dans un partenariat avec le
gouvernement et le PNUD pour appuyer l'atteinte des Objectifs du millénaire
pour le développement

* Français : France : Sanctions financières «importantes» prévues pour
l'égalité salariale des femmes

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Harper faces qeustions about Barrick Gold in Tanzania

Via Tara Scurr, I found out about this article, on Stephen Harper's visit to Tanzania:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper spent eight hours yesterday in this commercial centre on the Indian Ocean, visiting a school, lunching with Tanzania's President and announcing a $105-million contribution to a new health-care initiative in Africa and Asia.

Yet it was a 45-minute meeting with officials from a dozen Canadian investors, led by mining giant Barrick Gold Corp., that dominated Mr. Harper's news conference with President Jakaya Kikwete.

Thanks in large part to Barrick's three gold mines, Canada has emerged as Tanzania's largest foreign investor, prompting a resource boom that helped Tanzania record a 6.2-per-cent growth rate last year.

Yet the mining success has prompted allegations that royalties are too low and that Tanzania's people, still among the world's poorest, are not sharing adequately in the bonanza.

Adding to this is a nasty labour dispute at Barrick's Bulyanhulu gold mine, where 1,000 of the 1,900 workers have been on what the company calls an illegal strike for the past month.

A court hearing scheduled for yesterday, at which the union hoped to obtain an injunction to stop Barrick from hiring replacement workers, was postponed to today for reasons that were unclear.

Mr. Harper would not comment on the strike other than to say that he expects Canadian companies to "act responsibly within the laws of the land" when they are abroad. He praised Tanzania for creating a stable political and business environment that encourages Canadian companies to invest.

Read the entire article here.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - November 21, 2007

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 21 November

CLICK THIS LINK FOR ALL TOP STORIES added past 7 days / Principales
noticias / Articles de premier plan:

The top stories include / Las noticias incluyen / Les articles

* Mary Robinson letter to Economist: "Your article on business & human
rights sees a 'storm' where in fact there is healthy & productive
intellectual debate"
- Economist article: "Business and human rights - Doing the wrong
- Letter to Economist from Arvind Ganesan, Human Rights Watch

* Human Rights Watch calls on UN and govts. to ban new investment in
Burma's oil & gas sector
- Report names 27 companies investing in Burma oil & gas

* South African Human Rights Commission investigates banks & estate
agents, following allegations of "inhumane treatment" in evictions

* Wal-Mart's first report on its sustainability drive:
Environmentalists & social investors welcome progress but call for more measurable data

* Zimbabwe: Swedish development agency (SIDA) launches project to
combat workplace HIV/AIDS

* China: Central Bank cuts loans to 12 companies after they allegedly
flouted environmental laws

* Chiquita sued for $7.86 billion in USA for alleged involvement in
killings by paramilitaries in Colombia - case on behalf of 393 victims &
their relatives

* Czech Republic: NGOs say Czech companies lag behind other EU nations
in adopting diversity policies

* "Business & human rights - advancing the debate": Novartis Foundation
for Sustainable Development

* India: Gap pulls 50 percent of orders from subcontractor found using
child labour - will make $200,000 grant to improve working conditions
in India

* So. Africa: Treatment Action Campaign, AIDS Law Project file
complaint against Merck over drug access

* Telecom firm MTN Uganda launches community development foundation,
building on its housing, education projects

* BankTrack paper: "State duty to protect - the relevance of private

* "Progress not Perfection": Impactt reports on 10 years of supply
chain labour standards monitoring
- Case study topics include migrant labour, worker representation in
China, child labour

* Chile: Indigenous group awaits Inter-American Commission on Human
Rights decision on salmon companies they accuse of pollution & rights

* Español: Demanda contra Chiquita en EE.UU. por su supuesta
complicidad en asesinatos de grupos paramilitares en Colombia. La demanda es en
nombre de 393 víctimas y pide US$ 7.8 billones en compensación

* Español: Bolivia: Negociaciones sobre derechos sobre tierras entre
indígenas Guaraníes y Repsol tensionadas debido a "la actitud de la
empresa", según los Guaraníes

* Español: Guatemala: Conferencia de RSE del Banco Interamericano de
Desarrollo se enfoca en la cadena productiva - conferencia incluye
mejores prácticas

* Español: Brasil: Liberan 820 indígenas sometidos a trabajo esclavo en
hacienda de Compañía Brasileña de Azúcar y Etanol (Agrisul)

* Français : Une ONG d'Ouzbékistan appelle au boycot du coton produit
par le travail forcé des enfants en ce pays

* Français : Thaïlande : Advance Agro développe un mode de production
du papier qui réduit les impacts sur l'environnement et fourni un revenu
supplémentaire aux villageois

* Français : Chine : Banque centrale rappelle les crédits bancaires de
12 entreprises à cause de leur pollution

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

James Rodriguez exhibit and photojournalism workshop in Vancouver

In January 2007, photojournalist James Rodriguez documented a land eviction of farmworkers in El Estor, Guatemala, instigated by the Vancouver-based mining company Skye Resources. Here are his blog posts and Flickr gallery on the evictions.

He was invited to hold a photo exhibit and photo-journalism workshop at the Amnesty International Film Festival in Vancouver November 8-11. Below are some of the photos that were displayed at the exhibit.

The exhibit and workshop given by James was a success for so many reasons. We had an excellent turnout -- an overflow crowd filled the Vancity Theatre lobby for the workshop.

It was a great pleasure for me to finally meet James. He not only has a passionate eye for victims of human rights abuses, but also is a kind, personable, generous man with whom it was a pleasure to acquaint myself.

As you can see below, I was able to take some pictures of the exhibit. I'll never make it as a photographer, but this at least gives you a sense of it. I tried to take some of the workshop as well, but as you can tell, they didn't turn out very well as the exposure was poor. There are more of these pictures at my new Flickr site.

The workshop also touched on work he did in Honduras, particularly around the problem of cyanide poisoning of the local environment there as a result of mining operations, which is what he is talking about in the above picture.

See also James' Flickr gallery about his visit to Vancouver.

For more information about the organizations he's affiliated with, check out:
Rights Action
Mining Watch
Amnesty Canada
Oxfam America

or contact James at james (AT)

Business & human rights: Weekly Update November 14, 2007

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 14 November

Principales noticias / Articles de premier plan:

The top stories include / Las noticias incluyen / Les articles

* "Beyond corporate spheres of influence" - researchers for John Ruggie
invite comments on a more "useful analytical tool" for assigning
corporate responsibilities (authors' emails available at end of article)

* Christian Aid & other organizations call on multinationals in Zambia
to give the country "a better deal" in copper mining contracts
- Vedanta response
- Zambia Copper Investments response

* Yahoo! settles lawsuit by two imprisoned Chinese journalists & their

* Ghana: Shell trains staff as peer educators to help sensitise workers

* Zimbabwe: Barclays accused of lending to govt. ministers on
international blacklist
- Barclays response

* Group of 46 companies calls on governments to implement policies to
combat climate change

* Burma: "Gem trade bolsters military regime, fuels atrocities", says
Human Rights Watch - calls for ban on Burmese rubies & jade, recognises
steps taken by Bulgari, Cartier, Leber Jeweler, Tiffany, business group
Jewelers of America

* Financial Times on efforts to certify jewellery as 'Fair Trade'

* Kimberley Process agrees on tougher measures to block conflict
diamonds from Côte d'Ivoire - industry group favours stricter controls

* does not certify its diamonds are "conflict-free"

* Indonesia: Greenpeace accuses food companies of risking massive
greenhouse gas emissions by driving demand for palm oil grown on peat
- Nestlé, Unilever, Cargill respond

* Canada: Tribunal upholds claim that SELI, SNC-Lavalin tried to
intimidate foreign construction workers on Vancouver transit line to keep
them from unionising

* Private military & security companies:

- UN Working Group warns: states "may be responsible for violations of
internationally recognized human rights committed by the personnel" of
private security companies

- Iraqi Govt. says DynCorp guard killed taxi driver (article includes
DynCorp response)

- FBI says Blackwater's guards killed at least 14 Iraqi civilians
without justification in 16 Sep incident

* Español: México: Reporte expone abusos laborales de la industria
electrónica - incluye respuestas de las empresas

* Español: Yahoo! alcanza acuerdo con disidentes chinos encarcelados
tras información proporcionada por la empresa

* Español: México: Trabajadores en plataformas marítimas de Pemex
sufren "constantes violaciones" a sus derechos humanos

* Español: Guatemala: Fundación Menchú defenderá jurídicamente a
pueblos indígenas ante actividad minera

* Español: Google y Cisco lanzan herramienta en línea para conocer los
avances hacia los Objetivos del Milenio

* Français : Rép. Dém. du Congo : 18 tonnes de minerais radioactifs
déversées dans une rivière au sud-est - appartiennent à Magma-Lubumbashi,
Chemaf, selon les autorités locales

* Français : Accord à l'amiable entre Yahoo! & les familles de deux
journalistes chinois emprisonnés

* Français : Birmanie : Total y est le "dernier rempart de la
démocratie" selon son directeur général

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - November 7, 2007

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:Weekly Update:
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 7 November

Principales noticias / Articles de premier plan:

The top stories include / Las noticias incluyen / Les articles

* US court awards $3.3 million to 6 Nicaraguan workers who say they
were made sterile by pesticide used by Dole, manufactured by Dow, Amvac

* UN, Google, Cisco launch website to track global poverty, progress
towards Millennium Development Goals

* Investigation reveals extensive tax avoidance by banana companies
such as Dole, Chiquita, Fresh Del Monte, Fyffes, depriving govts. of
revenue for development & services

* Norway's pension fund sells Vedanta shares - points to "systematic"
environmental, human rights failures

* Plans for $400 million Global Pollution Remediation Fund agreed by
consortium of govts., researchers, NGOs
- Also: Blacksmith Institute report on "World's Worst Polluted Places"
& company responses

* US court allows lawsuit brought against CACI by Iraqi torture victims
to proceed; dismisses suit against Titan

* US legislators grill Yahoo! over cooperation with Chinese Govt. in
prosecution of dissidents
- Yahoo! CEO apologises to dissidents' families, company reaffirms its
commitment to human rights

* Business for Social Responsibility evaluates Anglo American's
"Socio-Economic Assessment Toolbox"
- Finds it "best practice", makes recommendations for further

* Mozambique: Labour Ministry suspends operations at Golden Fields
roses over serious workers' rights abuses

* Gap plans certification system to mark its products "sweatshop free"

* So. Africa: Mineworkers' union plans industry-wide strike over
safety, following spate of mine deaths

* UN Human Rights Council decides to appoint Special Rapporteur on
contemporary forms of slavery - call for candidates

* Español: Corte de EE.UU. otorga $3,3 millones de dólares a 6
trabajadores nicaragüenses de Dole por haber quedado estériles tras usar
pesticida fabricado por Dow y Amvac

* Español: Paraguay: Documental habla de "devastadores" consecuencias
sobre comunidades campesinas de la soja genéticamente modificada

* Español: México: Banorte duplicará las donaciones para damnificados
por las inundaciones en Tabasco

* Español: Bolivia: 26 conflictos mineros con comunidades indígenas,
parte de ellos derivaron en violencia

* Español: Inditex y Federación Internacional de Trabajadores del
Textil acuerdan "velar por el cumplimiento" de estándares laborales

* Español: Consejo de Derechos Humanos decide nombrar un Relator
Especial sobre formas contemporáneas de esclavitud - nominación de candidatos

* Français : La justice américaine accorde $3,3 millions à 6 employés
nicaraguéens qui se disent rendus stériles par des pesticides utilisés
par Dole et produits par Dow et Amvac

* Français : Cambodge : Des villageois protestent contre
l'appropriation de leur terre par la compagnie Peam Chaing, aidée par la police

* Français : Processus de Kimberley sur les diamants de guerre - Bilan
des progrès durant 2007
- Rapport du Partenariat Afrique Canada & de Global Witness sur les
échappatoires dans le système

* Français : ONU, Google, Cisco lancent un site web pour suivre les
avancées des Objectifsbjectifs du millénaire pour le développement

* Français : Conseil des droits de l'homme de l'ONU nomme un Rapporteur
spécial sur les formes contemporaines d'esclavage - appel pour des

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Vancouver event notice: photo-journalism workshop featuring James Rodriguez

Amnesty International Film Festival

November 8-11, 2007

Vancity Theatre, 1181 Seymour Street , Vancouver , Canada

Advance tickets:

Photo-journalist to participate in Amnesty International Film Festival

Event listing

November 11
Free public workshop on independent photo-documentation for grassroots social movements, with photo-journalist James A. Rodriguez ( 2:30-4pm in the Vancity Theatre lobby, 1181 Seymour Street . Part of the Amnesty International Film Festival. Everyone welcome to attend.

Media release

The 12th annual Amnesty International Film Festival features an exciting program of powerful and compelling films, as well as a unique exhibition of photographs that document rural land evictions in Guatemala to make way for a Canadian nickel mining project, and a workshop on independent photo-documentation for social justice, both hosted by photo-journalist James A. Rodriguez.

“With moving our film festival to the Vancity Theatre, we are able to offer lobby programs that complement the award-winning films we’re showing inside the theatre,” said festival director Don Wright.

“We’re really pleased to have James here with his photographs of forced evictions in Guatemala , and his offer to share his experience as a photo-journalist with the people of Vancouver .”

Rodriguez will lead a workshop on independent photo-documentation, of particular interest to those involved in grassroots social movements and wanting to document and report on social injustice. The workshop will explore ways to use photography to create awareness of issues that are under-covered by the media. The free workshop takes place on Sunday, November 11, from 2:30 to 4 pm in the Vancity Theatre lobby, 1181 Seymour Street .

Rodriguez will also participate in a panel discussion on the role of the media around reporting and preventing human rights violations. This panel follows a triple-bill of films on Africa (Massacre at Marumbi, Children of Darfur, Radio Okapi – Saturday, November 10 at 7 pm).

Rodriguez is an independent photo-journalist born and raised in Mexico City , educated in Los Angeles , and currently based in Guatemala documenting the country’s post-war social movement after 36 years of brutal civil war. His work has focused on providing exposure to grassroots movements and significant events which have traditionally been ignored by mainstream media.

Themes of particular interest include the usage and distribution of land, historical memory, war reparations, environmental issues, indigenous/peasant struggles, and north-south injustices propelled by corporate greed – in which mining issues are at the forefront. Rodrigeuz has also worked and lived in Japan and Brazil , and his work has been published in newspapers, magazines and internet portals throughout the Americas , Europe and Japan (see

Rodriguez's participation in the AI Film Festival and the exhibition of his photos are co-sponsored by Amnesty's Business and Human Rights program through the Vancouver Business and Human Rights Group.

For more information on the film festival please visit or call 604-294-5160.

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - October 31, 2007

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 31 October

Principales noticias / Articles de premier plan:

The top stories include / Las noticias incluyen / Les articles

* Rio Tinto mine in Madagascar: Panos/Friends of the Earth report
raises displacement, poverty & environmental concerns
- Rio Tinto response

* Uzbekistan: BBC Newsnight finds govt. system of child labour in
cotton industry - farms supply UK brands including Asda (part of Wal-Mart),
Matalan, Arcadia's Topman & Burton
- Includes responses by brands & supplier Plexus Cotton - many brands
say difficult to identify source of cotton
- Continental Clothing bans use of Uzbek cotton in its products, says
"finding the source of raw materials was as easy as making a few phone

* Keynote speech by Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll at BSR
conference - on mining safety, revenue transparency, development, HIV/AIDS

* China: In first court ruling on hepatitis B discrimination, plaintiff
receives RMB5000 from Changshuo Technology (part of Asus), but court
sanctions termination of employment - Plaintiff's lawyer says decision
"legalizes discriminatory acts" (our translation of Chinese original)

* France: Palestinian Liberation Organization brings lawsuit against
Veolia & Alstom, arguing Jerusalem railway breaches 4th Geneva Convention

* EIRIS/CAER report examines 7 companies' policies & strategies on
indigenous rights: Anglo-Eastern Plantations, Barrick Gold, BHP Billiton,
Suncor Energy, Total, Weyerhaeuser, Woodside Petroleum
- Says some are addressing indigenous rights issues but none is going
far enough

* Iraq: Govt. approves draft law to revoke private military firms'
immunity from prosecution

* US State Department criticised for giving immunity to Blackwater
personnel during investigation into shooting of Iraqi civilians

* India: Local & global firms including Babajob, Microsoft develop
technological products & services for the poor

* India: Child workers in "filthy conditions" found making clothes
destined for Gap
- Gap statement

* Launch of the Sir Geoffrey Chandler Speaker Series, 4 Dec, London
- "Business & Human Rights: 3 perspectives - from China, Africa and a
pioneer in the field"

* Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights: 2 job announcements

* Español: Brasil: Manifestante de Movimiento Sin Tierra (MST) y agente
de seguridad muertos en enfrentamiento en hacienda de semillas
genéticamente modificadas de Syngenta

* Español: Ecuador: Presidente Correa otorgó licencia ambiental para
que Petrobras opere en la Amazonía a pesar de protestas de indígenas por
"amenaza" a su territorio

* Español: Chile: Codelco apoya a mujeres microempresarias como parte
de proyecto estratégico con comunidades vecinas

* Español: España: "Jornadas para el debate por una Banca Desarmada",
organizadas por Justícia i Pau - se refiere a BBVA, Santander, Banesto,
Banco Popular, Deutsche Bank, Barclays, Caja Madrid, La Caixa, entre

* Français : Blackwater aurait reçu une promesse d'immunité du
département d'Etat américain pour ses agents impliqués dans la mort d'Irakiens

* Français : Bernard Kouchner défend la présence de Total en Birmanie

* Français : Deux opportunités de travail (Paris) : Entreprises pour
des Droits de l'Homme

* Français : Mali : Bramali adopte une charte d'engagement pour
prémunir ses employés contre le Sida & conduit une opération d'information et
de sensibilisation pour les citoyens de Bamako

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - October 24, 2007

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre: 
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 24 Oct 2007

Principales noticias / Articles de premier plan:

The top stories include / Las noticias incluyen / Les articles

* So. African companies "cashing in" on Zimbabwe crisis & should use
influence to push for human rights, says Solidarity Peace Trust
- Business org. denies allegations of cashing in, says companies have
role to play providing jobs, food

* Norway: Former Prime Minister Bondevik & others call for Government
Pension Fund to divest from companies linked to Burma, such as Total,
- Pension Fund's Council on Ethics describes its assessment of
companies operating in Burma

* UNEP Finance Initiative launches human rights tool for financial

* Monsanto response to "Child bondage continues in Indian cotton supply
chain" (further to last week's Update)

* Brazil: Landless Workers' Movement member & security guard working
for Syngenta killed in confrontation at genetically modified seed farm

* "Branded! How the 'Certification Revolution' is Transforming Global
Corporations" - New book by Michael Conroy
- Launch event 28 Nov, New York

* Amnesty Netherlands report on workplace discrimination - with
recommendations for companies

* "Green Angels": Venture & private equity capitalists investing in new
companies with social, environmental goals

* Cement is the "glue of progress" but a major carbon source, despite
companies' efforts to cut emissions

* India: Factories Act amendments allow night shifts for women - unions
call for better safety provisions

* "Transnational Corporations, Extractive Industries and Development":
UNCTAD 2007 World Investment Report

* WBCSD report on how companies can contribute to poverty alleviation &
sustainable development
- With case studies on Anglo American, BP, GrupoNueva, Lafarge, Procter
& Gamble, Toyota, Unilever, Vodafone, others

* Español: España: Amnistía sondea a 100 joyeros sobre "diamantes
ensangrentados" y encuentra "tremendo grado de desconocimiento" sobre
Proceso Kimberley de certificación de diamantes

* Español: Español: Paraguay: Alertan sobre posibles daños al
suministro de agua por puerto que Cargill construye para comercializar soja -
incluye comentarios de la empresa

* Español: Colombia: Comentarios de Nestlé sobre demanda en su contra
por "despido irregular" de trabajadores

* Español: España: Banco Santander es la primera entidad financiera en
firmar plan de igualdad entre hombres y mujeres

* Español: Honduras: Recuento de los impactos ambientales y sociales
del megaproyecto de turismo Bahía de Tela

* Español: Centro de Derechos Humanos y Ambiente en Argentina lanza el
foro "Responsabilidad Social Empresaria y Derechos Humanos"

* Français : Organisation de libération de la Palestine dit que le
project de tramway de Veolia et Alstom à Jérusalem est "hors la loi"

* Français : "Sociétés transnationales, industries extractives et
développement" : Rapport sur l´investissement dans le monde 2007 de la