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