Monday, March 31, 2008

AI has a Share Power blog

Amnesty International Canada has a blog for this year's Share Power Campaign. Here is the latest entry, posted by Tara Scurr.

Share Power is an annual campaign by AI that harnesses the powerful connection between individuals and corporations to promote corporate social responsibility, especially pertaining to human rights.
Amnesty's Business and Human Rights programme launches pension fund campaign

March 30, 2008

If you want to be in the know about how your Canada Pension Plan contribution may help or hinder human rights, you need to keep reading!

Eight fast facts about the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board:

* All Canadians over the age of 18 who earn an income must pay a percentage of their earnings into the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) or the Quebec Pension Plan. There are currently 17 million contributors in Canada.

* The CPP Investment Board (CPPIB) is a federal Crown corporation, created in 1998 to invest CPP contributions in order to maximize returns without undue risk.

* The CPPIB operates independently of the CPP and at arm’s length from federal and provincial government. The CPPIB is accountable to Parliament, as well as to federal and provincial finance ministers.

* The CPP Fund has a net worth of over $120 billion dollars. Over $68 billion dollars is invested in companies (equities).

* The CPP Investment Board holds shares in a wide range of companies, including companies that Amnesty Canada and other organizations are campaigning on.

* Just over 56% of CPP’s assets are invested in publicly-traded stocks.

* The CPP’s investment strategy is guided by its Policy on Responsible Investing. The policy recognizes that long-term responsible corporate behaviour on environmental, social and governance factors (ESG factors) can generally have a positive influence on long-term corporate financial performance. But it is important to understand that the CPPIB looks at ESG factors only as they affect the potential risk and return of investments.

* They have a legislated and fiduciary duty to apply only investment criteria to investment decisions.

Once a week over the next 12 weeks, Amnesty International Canada will share information about the Canada Pension Plan and help you take action for human rights.

During the first week, we'll introduce you to the CPP and the CPPIB. Over the next couple of weeks, we will share more details about how the CPP/CPPIB works: for instance, we'll look at how the CPPIB votes on shareholder resolutions under their Proxy Voting Guidelines.

With the power of owning many shares, on behalf of the Canadian public, the CPPIB can have a major influence on corporations via their voting at company AGMs. We want to examine this voting record and encourage the CPP-IB to vote for human rights on our behalf.

We hope that you will follow along each week, learning more about how our money is invested, and take action along the way to engage with the CPPIB in a dialogue that may lead to positive changes in their policies. We will talk to employees of the CPPIB and we will share those communications with you whenever possible.

So, please join us on the 12-week CPP Campaign!! We think it will be informative for all Canadians curious about how their investments are used. Our hope is that by understanding our own pension plan contributions, we will help improve human rights. If you have any comments at all as we go along, please do not hesitate to post them.

To get notification when new information is posted to this blog site, please send a message to and put "CPP campaign" in the subject heading. Otherwise, check back weekly between now and June 30.

AI Canada's Business and Human Rights programme

NDP: Canada must stop mining abuses

This is a press release from the federal NDP.

OTTAWA – A full year after a panel of industry, NGO and other experts released recommendations to the federal government on reigning in rogue Canadian mining companies operating in the developing world, Harper’s Conservative government remain silent.

“Harper appears to have sold out to the worst minority of corporate mining offenders,” said NDP International Development Critic, Alexa McDonough (Halifax). “When the report was released in March last year, Deepak Obhrai said we could expect the government’s response within two weeks. At the G8 meetings last June, the PM announced, ‘implementation of the recommendations from this process will place Canada among the most active G8 countries in advancing… corporate social responsibility.’ What happened?”

The advisory panel’s final report on Corporate Social Responsibility presented a rare consensus achieved among industry leaders and development NGOs, following national roundtables held across Canada. The group recommended adopting a Canadian standard of corporate social responsibility, creating an independent ombudsperson to investigate claims of Canadian corporate wrongdoing in developing countries, and mechanisms to withhold federal government support for the worst corporate offenders.

“Since feigning support for the panel’s recommendations, Harper and key cabinet Ministers have gone out of their way to visit Canadian mining companies in Chile, Tanzania, and Honduras,” added McDonough, who visited with local communities in Honduras fighting a Canadian mining company last fall. “While Harper hobnobs with big corporations, local communities and developing country governments are paying a terrible price. These Canadian companies are befouling their environments, jeopardizing community health, displacing communities, and thumbing their noses at host government regulations.”

“Harper’s government can do a favor for responsible companies in the industry by holding these corporate worst offenders to account,” concluded McDonough. “Instead, he’s giving them handshakes and handouts.”

Sixty percent of mining companies worldwide are Canadian, and according to a 2006 UN report, most of the human rights

Friday, March 21, 2008

April 4 educational event" Goldcorp mining in Guatemala

I'm passing on information about the following event. There remains the possibility that Goldcorp may be added to the Share Power campaign.

Other BHR groupies and myself will be there. I'm not sure of the event time, but the latest I've heard is the doors will probably open at 6:30. If you're on Facebook, here's the event page.
The class of GEOG 495, "The Politics of Building North-South Solidarity" invites you to an educational event to raise awareness about the connection between Canadians and Guatemala's Maya community of San Marcos through the actions of GoldCorp, a Vancouver-based mining company.

Our class has been working in solidarity with BC CASA to bring Dawn Paley, a Canadian journalist living in San Marcos to Vancouver to share information about the social and environmental impacts of the mining operations in Guatemala.

The event includes a talk by Dawn Paley, information about GoldCorp's activities based on research by GEOG 495, booths featuring information about North-South solidarity groups, Guatemalan style food and drinks, Cafe Justicia, a salsa class, followed by music and dancing.

Through these efforts we hope to gain a greater understanding of the interconnectedness of our communities and how we can create positive social change locally that will have beneficial effects globally.

The event will be located at St. James Anglican Church on Friday, April 4th 2008. There will be a suggested donation box at the front door to show your support.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

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

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

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

* Olympic sponsors concerned over Tibet unrest & violence - comments by
adidas, GE, Lenovo, McDonald's

* Intl. investment agreements, business & human rights: Paper prepared
for UN Special Representative John Ruggie by Howard Mann, Intl.
Institute for Sustainable Development

* Botswana: Labour Minister urges diamond firms to stop pre-employment
HIV/AIDS testing - NGO calls for HIV employment law

* Wal-Mart pushes Chinese suppliers to cut waste, greenhouse gas

* Cerrej�n Coal, Colombia: Assessment by company-commissioned
independent panel of the mine's social impacts flags concerns & positive
- Anglo American, BHP Billiton, Xstrata commit to implementing
recommendations - Cerrej�n will issue full response & management plan

* Merck letter to UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Health regarding
draft guidelines on access to medicines
- Special Rapporteur is preparing a response, which we will include in
a future Update

* "Tackling Tuberculosis: The Business Response" - report by World
Economic Forum & Harvard School of Public Health

* USA: Chiquita sued by relatives of 5 missionaries killed by Colombian

* India: Allianz & CARE team up on microinsurance project for
vulnerable people in tsunami-hit south

* Argentina: City of Buenos Aires mandates companies with over 300
employees to report on social, environmental issues

* Japan: Mazda Motor receives govt. human rights award

* Intl. Peace Operations Association journal, including:
- "A Human Rights Perspective on Business Ethics" for private military
& security companies
- Shell describes how it is implementing Voluntary Principles on
Security & Human Rights

* "Corporate Duty & Human Rights under Australian Law": Paper prepared
for John Ruggie by Allens Arthur Robinson law firm

* New & updated summary profiles of business & human rights lawsuits,
provided by the Resource Centre:
- Deutsche Bank, Woermann Line lawsuit re Herero tribe in Namibia
- Yahoo! case re China

* Conference hosted by Clifford Chance, London, 16-17 May: "Does
International Law Mean Business - A Partnership for Progress?" (with panels
on human rights)

* Espa�ol: EE.UU.: Familiares de 5 misioneros muertos por las FARC en
Colombia demandan a Chiquita

* Espa�ol: Espa�a: Empresas no est�n reportando sobre el respeto a los
derechos ind�genas, dice consultora KPMG

* Espa�ol: Am�rica Latina: BBVA destinar� 43 millones de d�lares para
programas sociales, incluyendo educaci�n

* Espa�ol: Nicaragua: Comunidades ind�genas alertan sobre posible
desplazamiento por construcci�n de puerto

* Fran�ais : Nigeria : Le proc�s contre British American Tobacco,
Philip Morris, International Tobacco Ltd. s'ouvre � Abuja

* Fran�ais : Chine : La disparition accidentelle de 27 mineurs
dissimul�e par les propri�taires de mine de charbon

* Fran�ais : France : Syndicats & ONG s'opposent au projet de loi
qu'ils disent �r�duirait � n�ant� protections contre la discrimination au

* Fran�ais : Analyse des efforts de l'industrie du chocolat pour
�liminer le travail des enfants dans les plantations de cacao

ARCHIVE of past Weekly Updates / ARCHIVO de actualizaciones pasadas /
ARCHIVE des Actualit�s hebdomadaires pr�c�dentes:

Monday, March 17, 2008

Film review -- Tambogrande: Mangos, Murder, Mining

This is a film review I've written for the documentary Tambogrande: Mangos, Murder, Mining, and submitted for publication in Amnesty's BHR newsletter.

Tambogrande: Mangos, Murder, Mining.
Running time: 85 minutes.

What happens when Manhattan Minerals, a Canadian mining company, proposes a mining development right underneath Tambogrande? As we see in the multiple-award-winning documentary Tambogrande: Mangos, Murder, Mining, its citizens take a stand to protect their livelihood.

Filmmakers Ernesto Cabellos and Stephanie Boyd spent five years making this film, and watched as a captivating script developed before their eyes. Despite promises of economic development and jobs from the mining company, the people of Tambogrande know that a gold mine underneath the town would poison their environment, make their land uninhabitable, and destroy the mango farms upon which their livelihood depends. Led by the inspiring Godogredo García Baca, they organize opposition to the plan. Godofredo is murdered under very suspicious circumstances. Over time, we see how the protest movement evolves from one of sometimes violent confrontations with police towards displays of non-violent resistance later on. In a referendum, they vote 98% against the development, and Manhattan Mineral’s shares drop sharply. This eventually culminates in victory and preservation for the people of Tambogrande.

By the conclusion of Tambogrande, I was truly inspired. This film is worth watching as an uncommon example of grassroots citizen action triumphing in the battle to defend their land and livelihood from powerful corporate interests. The lesson for the Canadian activist is to realize that though our activism is important, it is the courageous, successful activism of indigenous peoples on the front lines that really must be honoured.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

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

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

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

* Foreign investment contracts & human rights - new paper prepared for
IFC & UN Special Representative John Ruggie

* UN working group on mercenaries concerned about insufficient
oversight & regulation of private military & security firms - full report

* "Employing Private Military Companies - A Question of Responsibility"
(advisory report to Netherlands Govt.)

* Social investors ask whether Toyota can maintain its investments in
Burma "without supporting the military regime and its egregious abuses
of human rights"
- We invited Toyota to respond, but Toyota has not responded

* Brazil: Labour Ministry finds "degrading" living conditions for
sugarcane workers at sites of biofuels firm Brazilian Renewable Energy
- company apologises, says it is addressing concerns

* "CEO Water Mandate": UN Global Compact & Pacific Institute convene
CEOs of major firms to address companies' water impacts

* US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation calls on Motorola to stop
providing products used in "Israel's illegal military occupation and
human rights violations"
- Motorola response

* "One Year of My Blood": Human Rights Watch report on exploitation of
migrant construction workers in Beijing

* USA: 500 Indian workers claim they were trafficked & abused by Signal
- Signal response

* Nokia leads mobile phone recycling initiative in East Africa amid
concerns over toxicity of electronic waste

* Dem. Rep. of Congo: Tin from rebel-held mine in North Kivu reaches
intl. markets - Hitachi, Microsoft, Pioneer, Samsung examine their supply

* Willis ceases to insure companies operating in Burma - Burma Campaign
UK calls on other insurers to follow

* "Ethical diamonds" go beyond conflict-free diamonds (refers to steps
by Brilliant Earth, Igloo Diamonds)

* Extractive firms must adopt new standards for engagement with
indigenous groups, including free, prior & informed consent, says Canada's
Ethical Funds

* Ericsson employs mobile technology to support women's health,
education & employment

* USA: Florida farmworkers allegedly harmed by pesticides appeal to UN
Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination - cite "environmental

* China: "What's happened since the Labour Contract Law came into

* Español: Grupo de Trabajo de la ONU sobre mercenarios preocupado por
abusos de derechos humanos vinculados a empresas privadas de seguridad
- reporte completo disponible

* Español: España: Informe del Observatorio de Responsabilidad Social
Corporativa sobre el IBEX 35 dice que las empresas reportan poco sobre
derechos humanos y medio ambiente

* Español: México: Sindicato denuncia formación de "grupos de choque"
en conflicto minero con Grupo México - empresa niega que guardias estén

* Español: El Salvador: Directores de Baterías Récord acusados por la
Fiscalía por contaminación con plomo a 175 personas

* Español: Argentina: Primer convenio entre una provincia y la OIT para
promover el trabajo decente y erradicar el trabajo infantil

* Español: Brasil: Rescatan a 1.500 trabajadores viviendo en
condiciones precarias en cultivos de azúcar de empresa Brenco

* Français : La justice belge déboute les réfugiés birmans de leur
action contre Total

* Français : Le Groupe de Travail de l'ONU sur l'utilisation des
mercenaires préoccupé par l'insuffisance de surveillance et de régulation des
sociétés militaires et de sécurité privée - rapport complet disponible

* Français : Rép. Dém. du Congo : Etain d'une mine controllée par les
rebelles dans la zone militarisée du Nord Kivu atteint les marchés
internationaux - Hitachi, Microsoft, Pioneer, Samsung examinent leurs
chaînes d'approvisionnement

* Français : La ministre suisse de l'Economie appelle les entreprises à
prendre leurs responsabilités en matière de droits humains

* Français : France : Alstom condamné en appel pour avoir exposé ses
salariés à l'amiante - pour eux, c'est une "victoire au goût amer"

* Français : Nike va publier un rapport sur les conditions de travail
chez certains de ses fournisseurs en Chine - trouve que le harcèlement
sexuel & le manque de représentation sociale sont des problèmes

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Ed Broadbent and Alex Neve: At home and abroad, Canadian companies should have the same human-rights and environmental standards

I'm about a week late posting this, but better late than never. This is from Alex Neve of Amnesty International, and Ed Broadbent. There is genuine concern in the human rights community that the Harper government will fail to follow up on advisory group recommendations from the National Roundtable on Corporate Social Responsibility. Here they speak to that concern.

The feds were going to make an announcement at a mining conference last week, but an announcement was not made and there is some hope that perhaps they are giving the matter some second thought. Here is the article in its entirety.
At home and abroad, Canadian companies should have the same human-rights and environmental standards
Ed Broadbent and Alex Neve
Special to Globe and Mail Update

This weekend, mining ministers from around the world will meet in Toronto and corporate social responsibility will be on their agenda. Canada appeared to be poised for a major step forward by adopting clear human-rights and environmental rules for our mining, oil and gas companies overseas. Unfortunately, it now appears a historic agreement to regulate Canadian extractive companies overseas may collapse.

Canada is well-positioned to make a major impact in this area. More mining and oil and gas companies are listed on Canadian stock exchanges than anywhere in the world. In 2006, these sectors raised more than $20-billion in equity capital here.

The need for reform is clear. Canadian mining companies have been implicated in human-rights violations and environmental abuses ranging from death threats and assassinations in developing countries to toxic dumping and the destruction of protected areas. At home and abroad, human rights and environmental groups have challenged the Canadian government to take action against companies exploiting local populations and ecosystems overseas. Would Canadians, they say, tolerate the contamination of their town's water supply? Would they willingly relocate to make way for an open-pit mine? Would Canadians accept companies who aggressively use private security guards to suppress indigenous groups?

Most importantly, why should companies face one set of rules at home and weaker rules abroad? Other countries, such as the United States and Britain, expect that companies will be accountable to domestic rules when operating internationally. Why should Canada be an exception?

Why should Canada's extractives industry act like profit-driven foxes running the henhouse in countries desperate for foreign investment? That kind of behaviour would never be tolerated here. Why is it acceptable when Canadian companies act this way elsewhere?

In 2005, these complaints reached the House of Commons standing committee on foreign affairs and international trade. The committee called on the federal government to introduce tougher corporate accountability rules on human rights and the environment.

In response, the federal government initiated a series of "roundtables" involving international experts and the Canadian public to discuss the problem and propose solutions.

On March 30, 2007, at the conclusion of the process, business and human-rights groups released a joint report. The report fell short of what both sides wanted, but it represents an important compromise. It offers standards for Canadian companies overseas, and proposes new mechanisms to enforce them. The standards would be overseen by an impartial ombudsman and an oversight committee (with industry and civil-society representatives). Basically, Canadian companies should not be allowed to do abroad what they can no longer do at home.

In April, 2007, Prime Minister Stephen Harper commended the report at the G8 meetings in Heigeldamm, Germany. He boasted that its adoption would make Canada a "world leader" in corporate accountability standards.

There are growing concerns, however, that defeat may be snatched from the jaws of victory. There are fears the original report is being gutted after pressure from some heavy hitters in the mining industry. It is rare to see high-profile compromise between industry and civil-society groups on any issue. It would be a travesty if this hard-won accord was quashed by backroom pressure from influential lobbyists. We urge the federal government to support the original compromise reached in March of 2007 by industry and civil-society groups on rules for the overseas operations of Canadian mining and oil and gas companies.

Even industry lobbyists acknowledge that responsible companies run into trouble when rules aren't enforced, or clear guidelines and oversight procedures don't exist. It's time for Canadian mining and oil and gas companies to respect human rights and the environment. We owe it to the people and ecosystems of developing countries. And we owe it to Canadians, who expect better from those who carry our country's name abroad.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - March 5, 2008

From the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre: 
Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 5 March 2008

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

* Anglo American, Rio Tinto require Chinese joint venture partners in
Africa to pledge adherence to human rights & environmental standards

* "'Corporate Culture' as a Basis for the Criminal Liability of
Corporations" - paper prepared by Allens Arthur Robinson law firm for John

* Netherlands to prosecute Trafigura, Amsterdam Port Services over
toxic waste dumped in C�te d'Ivoire

* UNIFEM, Avon in partnership to tackle violence against women &
promote women's empowerment

* Canada: Amnesty Canada head & founding president of Rights &
Democracy say that at home and abroad, Canadian firms should have the same
human rights & environmental standards

* Vodafone, World Food Programme & UN Foundation partner on improving
communications during humanitarian crises

* Bangladesh: Garment workers describe poor labour & living conditions,
but also some life opportunities

* Malawi: Leading tour operator conducts HIV counselling & testing for
workers & spouses

* China Labour Bulletin: "Are trade union and labour officials in
Guangdong beginning to take their responsibilities seriously?"

* eBay's MicroPlace allows individuals to support microfinance
institutions around the world

* Russia: Environmental agency files $178 million lawsuit against
Norilsk over alleged pollution of Siberian rivers
- Norilsk disputes agency's findings

* Yahoo! faces second US lawsuit over handing personal information to
Chinese authorities

* Conference: "Intellectual Property v. Human Rights?" (Geneva, 13

* Espa�ol: Colombia: Fiscal�a de Valledupar llama a juicio a 7
directivos de Nestl� por alegaciones de retiro "forzado" de trabajadores

* Espa�ol: Chile: Respuesta de empresa Aguas Claras sobre el conflicto
con sus empleados por condiciones laborales (en continuaci�n a nuestra
Actualizaci�n del 20 de febrero)

* Espa�ol: Espa�a: Plan de igualdad de Elcog�s es premiado por el
Instituto de la Mujer de Castilla-La Mancha

* Espa�ol: Chile: En el marco de la nueva justicia laboral, designados
primeros doce defensores legales

* Espa�ol: Colombia: BBVA anuncia creaci�n de banco dedicado
exclusivamente a microcr�dito

* Fran�ais : ONG interroge Roche sur la distribution en Chine d'un
m�dicament pour les transplant�s, la grande partie des organes en Chine
provenant des condamn�s � mort

* Fran�ais : Maroc : Pollution industrielle de l'eau � Anza,
Agadir-Nord - usines de ciments, conserveries de poissons

* Fran�ais : Le label STEP certifie que les tapis sont produits dans
des conditions �quitables & respectueuses de l'environnement