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