Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Business & human rights: weekly update - December 24, 2008

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 24 Dec 2008

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Business & Human Rights Resource Centre wishes you a happy 2009. The Weekly Update will not be published next Wednesday, 31 December, and will resume Wednesday, 7 January.*

"The Real Price of Gold" - National Geographic report on the human & environmental toll of gold mining*

Report of consultation on improving non-judicial remedies for corporate human rights impacts - held to inform mandate of UN Special Rep. John Ruggie (Nov 2008)*

G4S signs global agreement with Union Network Intl. on labour rights*

Brazil: Human rights & environmental activists face death threats because of fight against loggers, farmers & cattle ranchers, says report*

Google, YouTube to promote human rights in North Korea via internet broadcasting*

USA Today report finds many US schools are near major industrial plants - raises concerns over effects of gas emissions on children's health- refers to ExxonMobil, and includes company response*

Italy: Médecins Sans Frontières highlights "appalling" living & working conditions of migrant fruit pickers*

Nepal: Intl. Alert survey assesses role of business in mitigating future conflict & peacebuilding*

USA: Human rights groups object to Florida official's statement on frequency of slavery cases among migrant agricultural workers- with full comments by Mary Robinson, Larry Cox (Amnesty USA), letter by 65 NGOs, religious groups, scholars & authors*

Women's health initiative by Levi Strauss & Business for Social Responsibility expands to Egypt*

UK: Landmark rulings strengthen gay rights in workplace*

Report of Ecumenical Council for Corp. Responsibility debate on migrant workers in the UK economy: "Rights & responsibilities"*

So. Korea: Natl. Human Rights Commission accuses Korean Air of discrimination against men - firm rejects allegation*

"Human rights Corporate Accountability Guide: from law to norms to values" (John F. Sherman, III, formerly of National Grid; Chip Pitts of Stanford Law School)*

ExxonMobil statement marking 60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights*

So. Africa: Mine fatalities down but union's concerns remain - new safety law passed*

UK Govt. issues statement confirming pension funds can take social, ethical and environmental considerations into account when investing*

Español: Argentina: Concejo de Quilmes declara emergencia ambiental por contaminación de Repsol*

Español: Paraguay: Ministerio de Salud solicita cierre o traslado de fábrica Chemtec debido a riesgos para la salud de pobladores*

Español: México: ONG dice que minería en Chiapas amenaza la supervivencia de pueblos indígenas*

Español: Argentina: Trabajadores del ajo denuncian trabajo infantil y explotación por parte de cooperativas*

Español: Chile: Ambientalistas denuncian proyecto de Colbún para construir nueva represa en el Bío Bío por su "impacto ambiental, social y cultural"*

Español: México: BID y CEMEX otorgarán 35.000 microcréditos a familias de bajos ingresos para pavimentar calles*

Español: Costa Rica: Profesores universitarios piden al gobierno moratoria a la actividad minera*

Français : Responsabilité du secteur privé dans le combat contre l'exploitation sexuelle des enfants à des fins commerciales - contribution d'ECPAT au Troisième Congrès Mondial Contre l'Exploitation Sexuelle des Enfants et des Adolescents*

Français : Programme de Cisco pour réduire les émissions des gaz à effet de serre des villes

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - December 17, 2008

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 17 Dec 2008

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* Dem. Rep. of Congo: UN expert group highlights links between the natural resources trade & conflict
- Global Witness calls for action

* Self-regulation code of conduct for private military and security companies (PMSCs), by Nils Rosemann
- includes chart showing which PMSCs have publicly recognised intl. human rights standards

* Shell video: "Shell & Human Rights" - with UN Special Rep. John Ruggie & Margaret Jungk of Danish Institute

* Intl. Rivers report "Mountains of Concrete: Dam Building in the Himalayas" highlights environmental damage, human rights abuses

* Turkey: "Inhuman" working conditions in shipbuilding industry - 17 workers died this year

* How are the largest So. African companies responding to HIV/AIDS?

* Business & Community Foundation (India) says 4-5 Dec Intl. Seminar on Business & Human Rights provided platform for companies that have abused human rights
- response by Business Leaders Initiative on Human Rights

* Ceres ranks companies' climate strategies
- IBM, Tesco, Dell lead; travel & leisure, restaurant, real estate, retail sectors have low average scores

* Angola: Abuses against artisanal diamond miners continue, Kimberley Process "is farce", says Rafael Marques
- Lev Leviev responds

* USA: "Specter of slavery persists" in Florida tomato fields

* Brazil: Supreme court upholds Amazon indigenous land rights over private farmers in key case

* Colombia: Cerrejón announces agreement with displaced Tabaco community - company will pay over US $3.1 million

* Global Network Initiative on internet censorship & freedom of expression: Anita Ramasastry comments on scope & limitations

* Niger: Hundreds killed, thousands displaced in brewing conflict over uranium mining

* Kenya: Companies launch programme for youth HIV prevention in partnership with US Govt.

* Corporate Watchdog Radio interviews Annabel Short & Greg Regaignon of Business & Human Rights Resource Centre on 60th anniversary of Universal Declaration

* "How to identify forced labour in your supply chains" - workshop, 15 Jan, London

* Español: Colombia: Indígenas U'wa piden a JP Morgan no comprar acciones de Ecopetrol por temores de impactos negativos de explotación petrolera

* Español: "Gestión empresarial y derechos humanos" a los 60 años de la Declaración Universal

* Español: Colombia: Cerrejón anuncia acuerdo con la comunidad de Tabaco, desplazada por la mina - pagará 7.000 millones de pesos

* Español: Colombia: 1er. reporte de avances de compromisos sociales de Cerrejón en respuesta al Panel Independiente de Revisión
- incluye tabla de progreso

* Español: Guatemala: Audiencia en la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos sobre derechos laborales de trabajadores agrícolas

* Español: España: División de FCC firma plan de igualdad que cubre a 35,000 trabajadores e incluye prevención del acoso sexual

* Français : Territoires palestiniens occupés : De plus en plus de multinationales retirent leurs investissements des colonies industrielles illégales

* Français : Rép. Dém. du Congo : Financement des groupes armés par le commerce des minerais - Global Witness demande aux gouvernements d'agir en s'appuyant sur les conclusions du Groupe d'experts de l'ONU

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - December 10, 2008

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 10 Dec 2008

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On the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights we would like to recall this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, who was instrumental in drafting the Declaration:

"Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home - so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he lives in; the school or college he attends; the factory, farm, or office where he works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere."

* Initiatives on the 60th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR):

- CEO statement in support of human rights

- "Human Rights Translated": Practical guide for business by Castan Centre, IBLF, OHCHR, UN Global Compact

- Amnesty Intl. Netherlands launches e-learning tool for business

- Statement by Mary Robinson & Sir Mark Moody-Stuart

- Arvind Ganesan, Human Rights Watch, calls for mandatory human rights regulations for companies

- Intl. Chamber of Commerce hails 60th anniversary of UDHR

- Global Reporting Initiative & others call for better corporate reporting on human rights

- Over 230 companies worldwide have a human rights policy statement: Joint announcement by Mary Robinson/Realizing Rights, and Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

- Dutch pension fund APG Investments supports appeal for companies to adopt human rights policies

* Transcript: John Ruggie speaking at Carnegie Council, New York, 28 Oct

* Audio & images: "Human rights and business: South Africa and beyond", London, 2 Dec
- Jody Kollapen, Chair of So. African Human Rights Commission
- regional updates by Resource Centre's researchers

* Blackwater guards indicted in USA for Sep 2007 Baghdad shootings
- immunity for security contractors to end in Iraq
- summary profile of Blackwater lawsuits

* Iraq: KBR's Kuwaiti subcontractor accused of confining migrant workers in windowless warehouses - companies respond

* Bahrain: New centre to receive & handle workers' complaints

* China: Guangdong factories squeezed as buyers push for improved labour rights but lower prices (Bloomberg)

* "Wal-Mart: A bully benefactor" (Fortune)

* Briefing: "Private Sector Accountability in Combating the Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children"

* USA: Wal-Mart worker trampled to death by stampeding sales shoppers
- lawsuit filed against Wal-Mart, mall, private security firm
- Time magazine article: "How to prevent a crowd crush"

* USA: Subway agrees to pay migrant tomato pickers penny more per pound - signs deal with Coalition of Immokalee Workers

* Allegations of child labour, health & safety abuses in surgical instruments produced in Pakistan and purchased by UK hospitals
- UK Natl. Health Service drafts guidelines on ethical purchasing

* Indonesia: Lapindo Brantas says settlement reached with mud volcano victims

* "Ethical leaders of 2008" (Ethical Corporation) include Barack Obama, Bill Gates, John Ruggie, heads of Confederation of British Industry, UN Principles for Responsible Investment, Global Witness

* Job vacancy: Senior Programme Officer, Economy & Peacebuilding, Intl. Alert (London, deadline 19 Dec)

* Job vacancy: Assessment & Training Manager, UN Principles for Responsible Investment (London)

* Español: Líderes empresariales expresan su apoyo a los derechos humanos en el 60avo. aniversario de la Declaración Universal

* Español: Argentina: Defensor del Pueblo se pronuncia contra terraplén que inunda casas - dice que empresa Hacienda San Eugenio y provincia ignoran sentencia del Tribunal Superior

* Español: Costa Rica: Asesor ambiental del presidente recomienda prohibir la minería a cielo abierto
- Sala Constitucional estudia proyecto "Las Crucitas" de Industrias Infinito

* Español: Honduras: ONG gana 98 casos de violación de derechos laborales - mayoría sobre guardias de seguridad

* Español: Guatemala: Fotoreportaje sobre afectaciones de la mina Marlin (de Goldcorp) sobre la población
- Sitio web de la empresa: "Relaciones comunitarias y desarrollo en Guatemala" (en inglés)

* Español: Panamá: Gobierno aprueba estudio de impacto ambiental de Petaquilla Gold después de haberla sancionado por daños al ecosistema y desmejoramiento de la calidad de las aguas - ONG critica decisión

* Español: Brasil: 6 empresas, incluyendo Petrobras, Aracruz y Copel, excluidas del BOVESPA sostenible

* Español: Empleados de Roche marchan a favor de niños desfavorecidos - empresa duplicará la cifra recaudada

* Español: Colombia: Después del escándalo de las pirámides, bancos se unen a iniciativa de microcréditos para pobres

* Français : Maroc : Citi Maghreb récompense 12 microentrepreneurs luttant contre la pauvreté

* Français : Inculpation aux États-Unis de cinq agents de Blackwater impliqués dans la mort de 17 irakiens

* Français : Indonésie : Lapindo s'engage à verser une compensation pour les victimes d'un volcan de boue

* Français : Madagascar : Des entreprises s'unissent pour lutter contre le VIH/SIDA

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Friday, December 5, 2008

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - December 3, 2008

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
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* World AIDS Day: Steps companies are taking to address the crisis

* Indonesia: ILO study finds many companies discriminate against people with AIDS

* Caritas calls for pharmaceutical firms to develop affordable AIDS drugs specifically for children

* Aspen Institute report on HIV/AIDS teaching in business schools

* Keith Slack of Oxfam America says companies should seek community consent, not just social license
- Article mentions Shell in Philippines - community consent efforts may have saved $72 million in avoided project delays

* Reminder: Intl. Seminar on Business & Human Rights, Paris, 4-5 December
- Speakers include Irene Khan, Jody Kollapen, Mary Robinson, John Ruggie

* Jury clears Chevron in trial in USA over alleged complicity with shootings in Nigeria - plaintiffs say they will appeal
- Analysis by Anthony Sebok, Cardozo Law School
- Summary profile of lawsuit by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

* Ecuador: New proposal to protect rainforest, indigenous people from oil exploitation by selling carbon credits to companies

* Health officials from 160 countries adopt guidelines limiting tobacco industry influence on govts.

* Unilever divests from factory in Israeli settlement in West Bank
- Dutch NGOs including Oxfam Novib, Pax Christi, welcome move

* Ecuador: Court environmental expert raises estimate of Chevron's potential liability by $11 billion

* Español: Ecuador: Perito judicial eleva cálculo de daños en demanda ambiental y de salud contra Texaco/Chevron a 27.000 millones de dólares

* Español: México: Proponen en el Congreso veda de productos chinos por razones humanitarias

* Español: Ecuador: Nueva propuesta busca evitar explotación de petróleo y promover desarrollo social a través de certificados de carbono

* Español: MTV Latinoamérica promueve campaña multimedia en observación al Día Mundial del Sida

* Français : Chevron acquitté de complicité d'atteinte aux droits de l'homme au Nigeria

* Français : Rappel : Séminaire International Entreprises et Droits de l'Homme, 4-5 décembre à Paris

* Français : Journée de lutte contre le sida : groupes touristiques Accor, Air France, Club Med se mobilisent au Sénégal

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Mining, Oil Resources, Free Trade, and Human Rights in Colombia

You are invited to a public talk on:

Mining, Oil Resources, Free Trade, and
Human Rights in Colombia

Tuesday, December 2, 2008
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Policy Room 7000
SFU Harbour Centre
515 W. Hastings

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

AI Canada: Canada-Colombia trade deal presents serious human rights concerns

Press release from Amnesty International (Canada):

On 21 November 2008, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Colombian President Alvaro Uribe signed a free trade agreement. If the agreement receives the necessary domestic approval in both countries it will then enter into force sixty days later.

Amnesty International and Canadian Council for International Co-operation are deeply concerned that the free trade agreement between Canada and Colombia has been signed without regard for the widespread and very serious human rights violations that continue to be the daily reality in Colombia.

Most recently, these have included:

  • Use of excessive force by state security forces against a mobilization of Indigenous people expressing opposition to free trade agreements and other policies they believe impact negatively on their rights.
  • Threats and attacks against land rights activists, particularly in areas of economic interest.
  • Increase this year in threats and attacks on trade unionists; more than 40 have been killed so far this year.
  • Increase in extrajudicial executions by state security forces of civilians, later presented as guerrillas killed in combat.
  • Repeated public statements by President Uribe and other senior officials demonizing trade unions (such as striking sugar workers), Indigenous organizations and other groups that are speaking out about violations of human rights, suggesting links with guerrillas. Such statements have led to threats and violence, including killings. Following the release of critical reports by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch in October, President Uribe publicly accused AI of "fanaticism" and "dogmatism" and the Americas Director of Human Rights Watch of being a "supporter" and an "accomplice" of FARC guerrillas. President Uribe has also demonized members of the Supreme Court investigating links between politicians from the ruling coalition and paramilitaries.
  • Ongoing and extensive links between state security forces and paramilitary death squads which continue to operate despite government claims to ave successfully demobilized them.
  • Ongoing failure to bring the perpetrators of human rights violations to justice; despite several high profile prosecutions, justice remains the exception and impunity the norm, giving a green light to those who abuse human rights.
Going ahead with the Canada Colombia free trade deal without meaningful action to address these concerns risks making the human rights situation much worse.

Earlier this year in a study of the proposed Canada/Colombia trade deal, the House of Commons Standing Committee on International Trade called on the government to ensure that an independent human rights impact assessment be carried out and that the results of that assessment be dealt with before the free trade deal is signed, ratified or implemented.

Amnesty International and Canadian Council for International Co-operation are gravely concerned that Prime Minister Harper has ignored this recommendation and decided to proceed without due diligence with regard to human rights. It is vital that the Government of Canada proceed no further towards implementation until an independent human rights impact assessment is carried out and the resulting concerns addressed.

Representatives of our organizations are available to offer an assessment of the human rights situation in Colombia, and to highlight our very serious concerns about moving ahead with the free trade agreement at this time.


For more information, please contact:

Beth Berton-Hunter
Media Relations, Amnesty International Canada
416-363-9933 ext. 32

Katia Gianneschi
Media Relations, Canadian Council for International Co-operation
613-241-7007 ext. 311

Film Review -- Los Caidos (The Fallen)

Los Caidos (The Fallen)
Rudy Joffroy
85 minutes

This film uses powerful narrative and visual accounts to explore the explosion of the Pasta de Conchos coal mine in Mexico on February 19, 2006, which resulted in the deaths of 65 miners.

It also exposes the severe mistreatment of miners and indifference to security concerns by the company, Grupo Mexico, and the government. It turns out that miners had complained about a gas leak prior to the explosion.

The corruption of Mexican authorities is widespread. The viewer is witness to the denial of the Vincente Fox government that any fault was to be laid regarding the mine explosion. There is also the supplanting of a legitimately elected union leader with an imposed government puppet. Mayhem culminates in a 152-day strike and occupation of a steel mill. The subsequent eviction results in two dead and 120 injured at the hands of police.

One desperately poor worker explains the pressure that is put on him to work. Before the explosion, when he expressed concern to his employers about safety issues, they said he could put up with these poor conditions or leave. For economic survival, he had no choice; he must work.

The conclusion of the film, marking the hundred-year anniversary of a mine explosion in 1906, epitomizes how little has changed over the course of a century in terms of the treatment and protection of miners.

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - November 26, 2008

From the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre:

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* [PDF] Reminder, London 2 Dec: Jody Kollapen, Chair of South African Human Rights Commission, to speak on business & human rights

* PBS report: "Indian Farmers, Coca-Cola Vie for Scarce Water Supply" (video & transcript)

* Chatham House Intl. Law Discussion Group: "Business and Human Rights: Closing the Gaps"

* Dem. Rep. of Congo: Audio & slideshow - the working conditions of Fidele Musaviri, a coltan & cassiterite miner

* Chinese companies & climate change: Carbon Disclosure Project results & CSR Asia commentary

* Electronics industry convenes to address worker rights, environmental & community impacts - SOMO report provides guidance

* USA: Jury retires to consider lawsuit against Chevron alleging involvement in killing of protestors in Nigeria

* India's ship-breaking industry: Open letter from NGO network to India's environment secretary highlights continuing health problems

* Commentary by Robert Senser on the work of UN Special Representative John Ruggie

* Macedonia: Govt. requires OKTA oil refinery to monitor pollution following protests over health impacts

* Equatorial Guinea: UN Special Rapporteur calls on oil firms to avoid abetting rights abuses

* Burmese workers left adrift for months on fishing fleet without food, water - Thai court awards 4.9 million baht to survivors
- NGOs call for compensation for families of 39 workers who died

* ITUC (Intl. Trade Union Confederation) survey of trade union rights violations worldwide - 91 trade unionists killed in 2007

* India: New network helps co-ordinate corporate contributions to disaster relief

* Gulf states: Bahraini newspaper editor says unskilled foreign workers living in conditions "unacceptable to cats and dogs" - calls for action

* Human rights shareholder resolution at Cisco: Commentary

* Economist Intelligence Unit on how improved social, environmental conduct can be profitable

* Español: América Latina: 40 organizaciones sociales se reunen in Honduras para debatir mejoras para trabajadores del sector textil

* Español: Informe Anual de la CSI (Confederación Sindical Internacional) - ataques contra los sindicatos se cobraron 91 vidas en 2007

* Español: La UE creará una red de empresas comprometidas con la igualdad entre hombres y mujeres

* Français : Rapport annuel de la CSI (Confédération Syndicale International) sur des violations des droits syndicaux - 91 syndicalistes assassinés en 2007

* Français : Niger : Controverse autour des retombées de l'or exploité par la Société des mines du Liptako

* Français : Enquête de Vigeo sur la prise en compte volontaire des instruments internationaux par les entreprises européennes

* Français : Une Compagnie aérienne du Costa-Rica, NatureAir, est la première à avoir « zéro » émissions de carbone, selon le PNUE

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - November 19, 2008

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 19 Nov 2008

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* Blueprint for the next US administration: "How to end impunity for private security and other contractors" (Human Rights First)

* Iraqi Cabinet approves security pact covering jurisdiction over US contractors - awaits final vote by Parliament

* Tanzania: Report says tax evasion by mining companies leading to negative social impacts
- Responses by AngloGold Ashanti, Barrick Gold

* Yahoo! sponsors museum in USA documenting forced labour camps in China

* ILO launches practical handbook for companies on combating forced labour
- Case studies include: Automobile industry & pig iron in Brazil; electronics in China; textiles in Jordan; agriculture in USA

* Dem. Rep. of Congo: Conflict fuelled by tin mining (New York Times)

* "Citizen Nike" - Fortune reviews Nike's efforts to improve its labour conduct

* Latin America: Partnership between Merck, UN, WHO & govts. makes progress toward stopping transmission of river blindness

* US prosecutors draft indictment against Blackwater guards over Sep 2007 Baghdad killings

* Burma: "Business ventures start with military"

* Observer good companies guide assesses FTSE 350, lists top & bottom 20, says "ethics still matter in hard times"
- Includes ranking of mining companies

* Macedonia: Town sues national govt. over 30 years of pollution by smelter

* CSR Asia ranks 20 firms from Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, on disclosure of human rights, environmental & other indicators

* Jordan: Intl. Trade Union Confederation alleges serious abuses of workers' rights - criticises conditions in export processing zones

* Open debate: "Migrant workers in the economy: Rights and responsibilities" (London, 20 Nov)

* Job vacancy: Interim Director, Global Network Initiative on human rights in information & communications technology sector (Washington, DC)

* Español: El Salvador: Pobladores preparan demanda contra LaGeo y Enel por "intoxicación masiva"

* Español: Panamá: Sindicatos denuncian a empresas de seguridad que "no cumplen con normas laborales y de seguridad" - 21 guardias han sido asesinados

* Español: UNI Américas lanza campaña a favor de derechos laborales de guardias de seguridad en Paraguay, Chile y Panamá

* Español: Grupo Cortefiel veta a 14 proveedores por no cumplir requisitos de "respeto a los derechos humanos, seguridad y salud"

* Español: México: 500 trabajadores de PEMEX alegan que fueron despedidos por intentar formar sindicato separado

* Español: OIT elabora un manual dirigido a empresas para combatir el trabajo forzado

* Español: Argentina: Banco Provincia inicia la primera banca de microcréditos

* Français : Afrique du Sud : 23 travailleurs dans la sylviculture morts dans un accident de la route - Syndicats appellent à un changement législatif pour sécuriser le transport sur les lieux de travail

* Français : Novethic : "Tata Motors, entre citoyenneté et paternalisme"

* Français : L'OIT publie un manuel pour aider les entreprises à lutter contre le travail forcé

* Français : Les Amis de la Terre saluent l'adoption par Dexia de la première politique sectorielle énergétique d'une banque de financement française

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Friday, November 14, 2008

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - November 12, 2008

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 12 Nov 2008

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* Special event in London, 2 Dec: Jody Kollapen, Chair, South African Human Rights Commission, on "Human rights and business: South Africa and beyond"
- Hosted by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - RSVP if you would like to attend

* London Mining Network says BHP Billiton failed to respond to social & environmental concerns at annual meeting - cases from Philippines, Indonesia, Guatemala, Colombia
- BHP Billiton response

* Philippines: CAFOD report on impact of proposed BHP Billiton, AMCOR project on local livelihoods & environment
- BHP Billiton response
- We have tried to contact AMCOR - we will indicate in a future Update if it responds

* 60th anniversary of Universal Declaration: Human rights initiatives by BASF, Barloworld, Novartis, Ketchum, Titan

* Guatemala: Rights Action says human rights impact assessment for Goldcorp is "pre-determined"
- Response by Intl. Alert, peer reviewer of the impact assessment

* IFC, IBLF, UN Global Compact launch process for companies to integrate human rights into social & environmental impact assessments

* "Following The Trail Of Toxic E-Waste" from US to China - refers to Executive Recycling
- Executive Recycling response

* NGO says Chiquita's political connections in Colombia & USA contribute to stalling of case against firm for payments to paramilitaries
- Chiquita sent a 2007 statement on the paramilitary payments in response

* Philippines: Dole Foods supports communities with health, education, environment programmes (US Department of State report)

* Call for So. Korean companies operating in Vietnam to improve their labour rights conduct

* Nigerians file suit against Shell in Dutch court; allege company was negligent in cleaning up oil spills

* Chile: Barrick Gold announces partnership with 3 NGOs to address poverty in Atacama region

* Jamaica: NGO coalition urges ban on companies' HIV/AIDS tests of potential workers

* NGO report on UK National Contact Point for OECD Guidelines calls for stronger regulation of companies operating abroad

* FairPensions survey of 30 UK asset management firms concludes there is insufficient concern for environmental & social factors

* "International Labor Migration: A Responsible Role for Business" - report by Business for Social Responsibility

* US court says Bhopal water pollution claims against Union Carbide can proceed

* New lawsuit summary profiles: Occidental re alleged complicity with human rights abuses by Colombian Govt.; Coca-Cola re alleged racial discrimination in USA

* Call for papers: "Accountability in a Global Economy", Business Ethics Quarterly - due 1 Dec

* Job vacancy: Policy research assistant, Bretton Woods Project & UK Aid Network (London, deadline 24 Nov)

* Español: Paraguay: ONG denuncia que destrucción de bosque por parte de empresa brasilera Yaguarete Pora podría causar extinción de indígenas aislados

* Español: Colombia: ONG sostiene que "impunidad" de Chiquita en caso de pagos a paramilitares se debe al tráfico de influencias
- Respuesta de Chiquita (en inglés)

* Español: Chile: Barrick Gold anuncia alianza con 3 ONGs para reducir la pobreza en la zona de Atacama

* Español: Ecuador: 2 muertos en empresa Incasa es ejemplo de faltas en medidas de seguridad en fábricas de Quito

* Español: España: Presentan Centro de Información del Comportamiento Empresarial (CICE) - "denunciará" comportamientos "irresponsables" de empresas españolas

* Español: México: Agencia ambiental de Tamaulipas presiona a maquiladora Nieng Sing para que deje de contaminar

* Español: BBVA negará créditos a las empresas que contaminen mucho

* Español: Ecuador: Comunidades indígenas y campesinas piden a Canadá no emprender proyectos mineros a gran escala

* Español: Brasil: Movimientos sociales y ambientales organizan protesta contra conferencia oficial sobre biocombustibles, alegando que éstos "obstaculizan" la soberanía alimentaria y energética

* Français : Confédération générale des entreprises du Maroc : Label pour la responsabilité sociale

* Français : République du Congo: L'OMS lance un appel au secteur privé pour l'amélioration de la situation sanitaire du pays

* Français : Guinée : Certaines sociétés minières mettent en place des programmes VIH/SIDA - plaident pour un partenariat public-privé

* Français : Réouverture du procès contre Union Carbide aux États-Unis pour la pollution des eaux au Bhopal

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Monday, November 3, 2008

New web portal profiles human rights lawsuits against companies

Press Release from the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:


Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launches world’s first online portal

profiling human rights lawsuits against companies: humanrights. org/LegalPortal

London, 29 Oct - Today the non-profit Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launched a free online portal – the first to bring together and demystify lawsuits from across the world alleging human rights abuses by companies. The portal summarises in non-legal language over 35 cases and the positions of each side, with more cases to be added soon. It also presents special commentaries by experts.

Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and President of Ireland, said: “The Resource Centre’s portal is a unique tool for advocates, victims of abuses, NGOs, business people and others.”


AngloGold Ashanti: sued in South Africa over miners suffering from silicosis

BHP Billiton: sued in Australia and Papua New Guinea over pollution by its mine in Papua New Guinea

Chevron/Texaco: sued in Ecuador, alleging extensive pollution damaging environment and health

Dow/Union Carbide: sued in India and US following the industrial disaster in Bhopal

ExxonMobil: sued in US over alleged complicity in abuses by Indonesian security forces in Aceh

Severstal: sued in Russia for severe pollution by its steel plant; government failed to provide the court-ordered relief; local residents took Russian Government to European Court of Human Rights and won

Shell: sued in US over alleged complicity in killings of Ken Saro-Wiwa and 8 other Ogoni activists in Nigeria

Trafigura: legal action in UK, France, Netherlands & Côte d’Ivoire regarding dumping of toxic waste in Côte d’Ivoire, allegedly leading to 17 deaths and the illness of hundreds

Yahoo!: sued in US for handing information to Chinese officials; led to detention & alleged torture of dissidents

Most of these cases are pending; some are finished or settled – the profiles indicate the current status of each. Companies in other profiled lawsuits include: Barclays, Biwater, Blackwater, BP, Cambior, Cape PLC, Chiquita, Coca-Cola, Daimler, Deutsche Bank, Drummond, DynCorp, Firestone, Ford, Freeport-McMoRan, IBM, Mitsubishi, Nike, Occidental, Rio Tinto, Standard Chartered, Talisman, Total, UBS, Wal-Mart.

COMMENTARIES: The portal includes brief, personal commentaries about corporate legal accountability for human rights – citing progress made in various countries, and challenges that remain. The commentaries were specially written for the portal by leading practitioners and experts – including some who have brought lawsuits against companies, and others whose clients are companies.

Michael Smyth, Head of Public Policy at Clifford Chance (UK), remarks in his commentary: “There was a time when business lawyers did not need to know a great deal about human rights law. That is no longer the case…This is now a key boardroom issue…Businesses can sustain major reputational damage where they are associated with infringements of human rights.”

Terry Collingsworth, a lawyer who has sued multinationals in US courts alleging their involvement in human rights abuses overseas, comments: “With a few positive examples of using the Alien Tort Claims Act to hold companies accountable for human rights violations in the global economy…other companies will be deterred from violating human rights out of a fear of substantial legal liability.”

Other commentaries are written by:

Mary Robinson, President, Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative

Argentina: Rodolfo Yanzon, Argentinean Human Rights League Foundation

Denmark: Sune Thorsen, lawyer, Global CSR

Hong Kong: Geoffrey Crothall, China Labour Bulletin

Mexico: Astrid Puentes, Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense

Netherlands: Law professor Menno Kamminga, Maastricht University

Norway: Legal expert Mark Taylor, Fafo

South Africa: South African Human Rights Commission. Lawyer Charles Abrahams.

Switzerland: Carlos Lopez, International Commission of Jurists

UK: Lawyer Martyn Day, Leigh Day

USA: Lawyers involved in lawsuits against companies, including Jennifer Green, Michael Hausfeld, Paul Hoffman. Law professors Anita Ramasastry and Beth Stephens.

When asked why this portal was developed, Christopher Avery, Director of the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, explained: “These precedent-setting cases are so important that they need to be understood not only by legal insiders. We developed this portal because victims, human rights advocates, business people, journalists, shareholders, lawyers, law professors and others told us that they wanted accessible information about these lawsuits. As for the commentaries, they provide remarkable insight into the thinking of leading experts, many of whom have worked on the profiled cases.”

To find the portal, go to: humanrights. org/LegalPortal. The portal is also accessible from the Resource Centre’s homepage.

Our Corporate Legal Accountability Project is made possible by a grant from JEHT Foundation.

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre tracks the human rights impacts (positive & negative) of 4000 companies in over 180 countries. Issues include discrimination, labour rights, security & conflict zones, killings, torture, displacement, environmental abuses affecting human health, access to medicines, poverty and development. The site is updated hourly and receives 1.5 million hits per month.

Our researchers, 7 of whom are lawyers or legally-trained, are based in Hong Kong, India, South Africa, UK, Ukraine and USA – soon also Senegal. Mary Robinson chairs our 80-member International Advisory Network. Our 20 Academic Partners include leading institutes associated with law schools in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America.

For further information about the Resource Centre, see the “About us” section of our site: -humanrights. org/Aboutus

SUPPORT THE RESOURCE CENTRE: Please consider making an online donation to help us continue to provide these resources for free: -humanrights. org/Aboutus/ Makeadonation

For additional information, please see humanrights. org or contact Resource Centre staff responsible for the portal:

UK: Sif Thorgeirsson

Manager, Corporate Legal Accountability Project

thorgeirsson@ business- humanrights. org

mobile: +44 774 705 3682

USA: Greg Regaignon

Head of Research

regaignon@business- humanrights. org

tel: +1 909 626 0260

or contact the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre office in London:

contact@business- humanrights. org

tel: +44 20 7636 7774

The Resource Centre thanks its present and past legal interns who assisted our staff with preparation of the case profiles: Sandra Cossart (France), Amila Jayamaha (Sri Lanka), Kellie Johnston (Canada), Danielle McMullan (UK), Silvia Nicolaou García (Spain), Christopher Pogue (USA), Xue Yang (China).


Friday, October 31, 2008

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - October 29, 2008

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre:
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 29 Oct 2008

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

Español: ver abajo - Français : voir ci-dessous

* Statement by UN Special Representative John Ruggie to UN General Assembly on his renewed mandate

* Business & Human Rights Resource Centre launches Corporate Legal Accountability Portal
- profiles lawsuits against companies alleging human rights abuses
- portal:
- press release:

* Coalition of human rights NGOs, Internet firms including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! & others launches principles on govt. censorship & threats to privacy
- also provided: text of principles, implementation guidelines, accountability framework
- Reporters Without Borders says principles do not go far enough to protect freedom of expression

* Wal-Mart tells its Chinese suppliers to meet strict environmental & social standards

* Botswana: Survival Intl. says De Beers returns to mine Central Kalahari Game Reserve while Bushmen are still displaced
- De Beers' response (23 Oct)
- De Beers announces withdrawal from reserve (29 Oct)
- We are inviting Gem Diamonds to respond & will indicate in a future Update whether it does

* US Govt. begins enforcement of new import ban on Burmese gems - Human Rights Watch urges support for ban

* Oxfam Australia says Philippines mine bankrolled by ANZ destroys local people's livelihoods
- ANZ response

* China: Rejoinder to Ole Wolff from trade union on alleged labour rights abuses (further to our 24 Sep Update)
- New Ole Wolff response

* Global Witness & Partnership Africa Canada identify "loupe holes in the Kimberley Process - gateway for conflict diamonds"

* UK: NGO says Scottish Register Office (GROS) contract with CACI ignores company's involvement in Abu Ghraib
- GROS defends decision to award census contract to CACI

* Signatories of UN Principles for Responsible Investment representing $4.4 trillion in assets urge 9000 CEOs to commit their companies to UN Global Compact

* Liberia: ArcelorMittal may struggle to manage local expectations over community development despite huge investment (commentary by Critical Resource)

* Uzbekistan: Despite boycott by US & European retailers over child labour concerns, cotton sales increase
- Retailers boycott Bangladeshi garments made of Uzbek cotton

* Job announcements: 2 Project Managers, Ethical Trading Initiative (London, deadline 17 Nov)

* Español: México: Campesinos del Istmo de Tehuantepec preparan demanda contra Endesa por "engaños y despojos"; otros protestan contra Iberdrola

* Español: Colombia: Horno de gas construido por empresas y gobierno ayudará a erradicar trabajo infantil en Boyacá

* Español: Perú: Rio Tinto dice suspende construcción planta por protestas sociales en Chiclayo

* Español: Colombia: Protestas sociales por malas condiciones laborales en ingenios de azúcar

* Français : Côte d'Ivoire : 7 acquittements, 2 condamnations dans le procès du Probo Koala
- ONGs regrettent « l'absence des principaux responsables - les dirigeants de Trafigura et de sa filiale ivoirienne »

* Français : Le Processus de Kimberley laisse une porte ouverte pour les diamants de guerre, selon Global Witness & Partenariat Afrique Canada

* Français : Iraq : Nokia et l'UNICEF s'unissent pour reconstruire des écoles

* Français : Réponse de Disney en français au rapport de Peuples Solidaires sur les conditions de travail chez les fabricants des produits Disney (suite à notre Actualité Hebdomadaire du 22 octobre)

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