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

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - October 17, 2007

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 17 Oct 2007

Principales noticias / Articles de premier plan:

The top stories include / Las noticias incluyen / Les articles

* Joint open letter to UN Special Representative on business & human
rights, John Ruggie - 151 NGO & individual signatories
- John Ruggie's response
- Open letter from Sir Geoffrey Chandler to the signatories

* Lawsuit filed against Blackwater in USA for killings of Iraqi
- Blackwater CEO says "politically motivated lawsuit for media
- Iraq's Minister for Human Rights calls for Blackwater security guards
to stand trial in Iraq

* India: Over 400,000 children working in cottonseed fields, often
bonded labour
- Bayer CropScience response
- Monsanto has said it will provide a response for a future Update
- We also invited Nuziveedu, Rasi, Ankur to respond but they have not
done so
- Dutch Parliament submits questions to Dutch trade & foreign ministers
on child labour in India

* US court allows lawsuit by apartheid victims against 23 companies to
- Companies include Barclays, BP, Citigroup, Commerzbank, Deutsche
Bank, ExxonMobil, Ford, Fujitsu, General Motors, IBM, Total, UBS

* Russia & Kazakhstan: Uzbek migrant workers in slave-like conditions
in construction, agriculture, textiles

* Merowe Dam, Sudan: Lahmeyer photographs of resettlement programme
(further to previous Updates)

* IBM partners with Grameen Foundation to expand microfinance software

* Thailand: "Systematic exploitation" of Burmese migrant workers -
though some companies providing better conditions than others

* USA: Congressional panel summons Yahoo! officials for 6 Nov hearing,
saying Yahoo! provided false information regarding case of imprisoned
Chinese journalist Shi Tao

* DHL extends UNICEF partnership globally, following successful Kenya
pilot to fight malaria

* US "boot camp"-style private treatment centres for teenagers: Govt.
Accountability Office reports on thousands of cases of abuse, some
leading to deaths

* Aspen Institute ranks business schools on teaching of social,
environmental issues - Stanford tops list

* Closing statements in US lawsuit against Dole & Dow - lawyer says
companies' use of pesticides in Nicaragua "left workers sterile"
- Dole lawyer says some workers didn't care about having children

* Final reminder: Internships at Business & Human Rights Resource
Centre - deadline for applications end of 18 Oct

* Español: Carta abierta conjunta a John Ruggie, representante especial
de la ONU sobre empresas y derechos humanos
- Respuesta de John Ruggie (solamente en inglés)

* Español: Nicaragua: En argumentos finales en corte de EE.UU.
campesinos dicen haber quedado estériles tras exposición a insecticida tóxico
usado por Dole Foods y Dow Chemical

* Español: Argentina: Evento evaluará el rol de las instituciones
financieras internacionales sobre los derechos humanos (18 octubre)

* Español: Trabajadores del Grupo Telefónica en Latinoamérica y España
realizan día contra el trabajo infantil

* Español: México: Agencias ambientales culpan a minera Continuum
Resources de secar manantiales de poblaciones en Oaxaca

* Español: Colombia: A juicio 11 ejecutivos de Nestlé por despido
irregular de 180 trabajadores

* Français : Lettre ouverte à John Ruggie, Représentant spécial de
l'ONU sur les entreprises & les droits de l'homme, signée par 151
organismes & individus
- Réponse de John Ruggie (seulement en anglais)

* Français : États-Unis : Commission du Congrès convoque Yahoo! dans le
cas du journaliste chinois emprisonné, Shi Tao

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ivanhoe divesting from Burma

Here's a piece from the Tyee about Ivnahoe's reaction to current events in Burma:
Today Ivanhoe Minerals Ltd. is one of a dwindling group of B.C.-based resource companies connected to the Burmese military government. But in the wake of the recent violent repression of protests in the country, Friedland surprised many last week by not only denying his Ivanhoe Mining Ltd. was still connected to Burma, but by denouncing his former military business partners.

"We share the revulsion of right-thinking people everywhere against unwarranted assaults on Buddhist monks and civilians," read a statement from Ivanhoe directors released Oct. 3, adding that the company "deplore[ed] the fact that so many years of discussions within Myanmar about constitutional change now appear to be jeopardized by the reactions of the state."

Read the entire article here.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

mining in Ghana on CBC

Looks like there will be something on mining in Ghana, to do with Canadian mining companies cracking down on citizens doing their own mining on CBC News Sunday this morning, and possibly on CBC News Sunday Night as well.

UPDATE: I've just watched it this morning. The name of the company is Golden Star Resources. According to the documentary, in the past they've also used cyanide that has affected local drinking water. The documentary also touches on the fact that Canadian mining companies lead the world in international mining projects, and that human rights abuses often take place.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Naomi Klein in Vancouver

Last Thursday, I accompanied group member Tara Parsons to see Naomi Klein speak in Vancouver on her tour for The Shock Doctrine. Klein, who in a 2005 Prospect Magazine poll was voted the 11th top living public intellectual in the world, didn't disappoint.

The shock doctrine is Klein's theory, backed up by about 70 pages of footnotes, that far-right wing disciples of Milton Friedman and complicit government wait for a crisis, or the opportunity to create a perceived one, to compel the citizenry into a state of fear. While the people are still reeling from shock and convinced that drastic measures need to be taken, the economists and politicians implement radical economic measures such as mass privatization and shrinking of the welfare state.

I liked Naomi's approach to the evening. It was clear it was a special evening for her, as her Vancouver family was there, in addition to husband Avi Lewis. It was the end of the tour, and she took the approach of telling road stories from the tour, from Calgary, where she figured her book would be perceived as a how-to manual, to Montreal, where she met elderly women, victims of radical psychotherapy in the 50s, whose shock treatment was mentioned in the book as an analogy to the approach the Friedmanites took to economic prescription, starting in Chile in the early 70s.

There certainly is a business and human rights angle to this material, particularly when one thinks of companies like Blackwater, private bands of paramilitary mercenaries, who have been allowed to literally run roughshod over scores of Iraqi civilians. In a more general sense, increases in privatization and the free flow of investment means that BHR advocacy groups have to really be on their toes. My opinion is that if Stephen Harper attains a majority after the next federal election, it inevitably means that we will have to press harder to achieve the same in terms of corporate accountability.

One thing that Naomi said that struck a chord with me was that our enemy here is fear. The right-wing economists and politicians use fear to paralyze people and institute their rabid austerity programs. She used as a classic example 9/11. She said that in contrast, when the Spanish had their 9/11 with the train bombings, and the Spanish PM tried to link it to Iraq, he was kicked out of office by the Spanish citizens. They called for a march against fear.

Of course, the use of fear to control and manipulate people is nothing new. It has been around at least since the the dawn of organized religion. What I see now, though, is that this is merely a relatively recent manifestation of the same. It is based on the assumption that people will accept blind obedience and irrationality.

A march against fear sounds good to me.

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - October 10, 2007

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 10 Oct 2007

Principales noticias / Articles de premier plan:

The top stories include / Las noticias incluyen / Les articles

* Sir Geoffrey Chandler: "Total's response to criticisms of its
presence in Burma is in the worst tradition of corporate irresponsibility"
- We invited Total to respond but have not yet received a response

* Cartier announces it has stopped buying gemstones which may have been
mined in Burma, until further notice

* USA: Jewelers of America seeks import ban on Burmese gemstones until
abuses end, asks members to ensure gems don't come from Burma

* Salil Tripathi says activists campaigning on human rights in Burma
should focus less on Western companies, more on govts. backing the
Burmese authorities

* Dem. Rep. of Congo: Community group concerned about toxic waste that
Chevron buried between 1986-1990 & recently excavated
- Chevron responds

* Merowe Dam, Sudan: Response by Chinese company Harbin Power
Engineering to concerns about forced evictions (further to previous Updates)

* Ogoomor, Mongolia: Arbitrary arrests & violence escalate after
Russian gold company asks for increased security measures against illegal
- Article includes comments by the company, Altan Dornod Mongol

* Remarks by John Ruggie at World Bank forum: "Business and the rules
of the game: From rule-takers to rule-makers?"

* Interviews with executives of Beijing Olympic sponsors General
Electric, UPS, adidas, Hyatt, Akqa Mobile - & with Sharon Hom (Human Rights
in China) who is encouraging the sponsors to address human rights issues

* Global Witness report: "Oil and Mining in Violent Places - Why
voluntary codes for companies don't guarantee human rights"

* Video of recent US Congress hearing on reported abuses by Blackwater
security firm in Iraq & Afghanistan

* Dem. Rep. of Congo: Procter & Gamble raises significant funds for
UNICEF tetanus vaccination programme - "clever marketing or making a real

* UK: Dossier of 200 cases reveals beating & racial abuse of failed
asylum-seekers by private security guards, during deportation
- XL Airways says it will no longer carry failed asylum seekers
forcibly removed from the UK - Virgin and British Airways say they are "under
a legal obligation to return failed asylum-seekers", but Home Office
says airlines have discretion

* UK: "A Campaigner's Guide" to the new Companies Act
- Act has provisions on directors' duties and transparency that include
environmental, social requirements

* Sir Geoffrey Chandler argues that John Ruggie's caution in his role
as UN Special Representative on business & human rights reveals the
pressure he faces from both companies and their critics

* "Voluntary initiatives - Helping the laggards join the race" by
Christine Bader

* Español: México: Comisión civil señala que muertes en mina de Grupo
México pudieron haberse prevenido

* Español: Repsol rechaza acusaciones de Intermón Oxfam sobre
"presiones" de la compañía a los indígenas de Bolivia

* Español: Irak: Investigación del gobierno dice que Blackwater mató a
17 civiles; recomienda abrir juicio contra empresa

* Español: Colombia: Encuesta de ANDI entre sus empresas afiliadas
muestra que 34% son miembro del Pacto Global, y 54% dicen desarrollar
programas de derechos humanos

* Español: Chile: Sigue en trámite caso de proyecto Pascua Lama ante la
Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos

* Français : Congo : Nouveau comité de l`Initiative pour la
transparence des industries extractives comprend deux activistes des droits de

* Français : Cartier annonce qu'elle a cessé d'acheter les pierres
gemmes qui auraient pu être extraites en Birmanie jusqu'à nouvel ordre
(seulement en anglais)

* Français : Argentine : Les autorités traquent les entreprises
polluantes, y compris Danone, Shell

* Français : Rép. Dém. du Congo : Réponse de Chevron à des questions au
sujet de déchets toxiques dans le littoral de Muanda (réponse
disponible seulement en anglais - suite à notre bulletin du 26 septembre)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - October 3, 2007

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 3 Oct 2007

Principales noticias / Articles de premier plan:

The top stories include / Las noticias incluyen / Les articles

* Burma, business and human rights:
- Special webpage with reports on: Companies operating in Burma,
critiques, company statements, etc.

* Belgium: Case re-opens against Total, alleging complicity in crimes
against humanity in Burma

* Total's lobbying weakens EU stance on Burma sanctions, says Member of
European Parliament Geoffrey Van Orden
- Total responds

* John Ruggie & Clean Clothes Campaign launch project to clarify:
Implementation of supply chain codes; governance of multi-stakeholder

* Former Shell executive: "The myth of corporations' commitments to
Human Rights"
- Shell responds

* Nigeria's banking industry: Concerns about anti-union activities &
use of prostitution - Labour Minister holds meeting with banks & unions

* Clinton Global Initiative: Companies make major commitments on
health, education, poverty, climate change
- Companies include YouTube, Goldman Sachs, Swiss Re, Procter & Gamble,
many others

* Blackwater security firm in Iraq: Latest reports, incl.
investigations into killings of civilians, US Congressional hearing (see
"Blackwater" section)

* Former Reebok manager responds to CSR Asia article: Should foreign
companies encourage staff unions at Chinese suppliers?

* Norway first Northern country to commit to implementing Extractive
Industries Transparency Initiative principles

* Espa�ol: Birmania, derechos humanos y empresas - varios art�culos
- Total dice: "es dif�cil condenar la represi�n" porque "Total no es
una autoridad moral o pol�tica"

* Espa�ol: Ecuador suspende concesi�n de Ascendant Copper tras
conflicto con ind�genas y comunidades

* Espa�ol: "Empresas privadas de seguridad y derechos humanos" -
editorial por Mauricio Lazala, Centro de Recursos sobre Empresas y Derechos

* Espa�ol: Chile: Vecinos de Arica son indemnizados por seria
intoxicaci�n - sentencia exige a empresa Promel a sanear

* Espa�ol: Aumenta n�mero de mujeres con discapacidad y con empleo en

* Fran�ais : Birmanie, les entreprises et les droits de l'homme
- S�lection des articles et rapports

* Fran�ais : R�p. D�m. du Congo : Global Witness dit que l'examen des
contrats miniers est � entach� par un manque de transparence �

* Fran�ais : 4 enqu�tes en cours dans l'affaire impliquant Blackwater
dans la mort de civils en Irak

* Fran�ais : Sommet de Bill Clinton : Les entreprises am�ricaines
annoncent des projets en faveur de l'environnement, de l'�ducation et de la
sant� qui valent plus de 4 milliards de dollars