Thursday, March 26, 2009

News release : Government fails to hold extractive sector companies accountable.

The Canadian Network on Corporate Accountability, of which Amnesty International Canada is a member organization, has put out a news release expressing its dismay at the Harper government's announcement:

(Ottawa- March 26, 2009) Today’s government announcement on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has squandered the important consensus reached by industry and civil society organizations on how to ensure that the overseas operations of Canadian extractive companies adhere to international environmental and human rights standards. Almost two years ago, the multi-stakeholder Advisory Group to the National Roundtables on CSR in the Extractive Sector submitted its consensus report to the Canadian government. Today’s long-awaited response ignores the report’s central recommendations.

“Industry and civil society leaders called for the adoption of clear standards that would apply to all Canadian extractive companies operating in developing countries,” says Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “But sadly, the government has opted for voluntary guidelines that fall far short of international human rights norms. It is hard to see how this represents any significant progress.”

The Advisory Group’s report called for the establishment of an accountability mechanism that could lead to sanctions for companies that don’t comply with the recommended standards. “The government is clearly not serious about ensuring that companies comply with high CSR standards,” says Mary Corkery, Executive Director of KAIROS-Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives. “Today’s announcement leaves mining affected communities with no recourse, as irresponsible corporate behaviour can continue with impunity.”

The consensus recommendations also called for the creation of an Ombudsman who could investigate complaints and report publicly on the results. “Today’s response undermines the principle of independent fact-finding, leaving investigations possible only at the behest of companies” says Karyn Keenan of the Halifax Initiative.

The consensus report recommended linking the provision of government financial and political support for Canadian extractive companies to compliance with environmental and human rights standards. The government’s failure to adopt this recommendation means that public funds will continue to support companies that don't comply with public values such as respect for human rights and protection of the environment.

The government strategy announced today fails to address the serious human rights and environmental abuses associated with Canadian extractive companies operating abroad. Canadian companies remain the subject of complaint in numerous international fora. Most recently, the Norwegian government divested from Barrick Gold due to the company’s contribution to “serious environmental damage.”

Media contacts:

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

Adiat Junaid, KAIROS, 416-463-5312, ext. 223

Karyn Keenan, Halifax Initiative, 613-789-4447

Harper government states its position on corporate social responsibility

The Harper government has finally released its policy on corporate responsibility for the extractive sector. As you will see in subsequent posts, the NGO sector is extremely disappointed in this policy position.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - March 18, 2009

Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 18 March 2009

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

Español: ver abajo - Français : voir ci-dessous

* Intl. business orgs. IOE, ICC, BIAC re-confirm commitment to the work of UN Special Representative John Ruggie, offer assistance

* Mutual fund manager Vanguard announces policy to avoid investments in companies involved in serious human rights abuses
- Investors Against Genocide welcomes move

* Philippines: Reports allege Sagittarius Mines Inc (SMI) / Xstrata connected with killing of human rights activist Eliezer "Boy" Billanes
- SMI/Xstrata response

* Clean Clothes Campaign report "Cashing in" says discount model leads to labour abuses at factories in Asia supplying Aldi, Carrefour, Lidl, Tesco, Wal-Mart
- responses by all five companies

* Guatemala: Natl. Labor Committee (US) alleges women workers' rights abused at Nicotex factory, supplying Lane Bryant (part of Charming Shoppes), Briggs New York (part of Kellwood)
- responses by Nicotex, Charming Shoppes, Kellwood

* India: Petition says Himagiri Hydro Energy's Panan hydro-electric project will harm environment & Lepcha community's culture - calls for release of arrested activists
- response by Himagiri

* UK: More than 40 construction firms allegedly bought personal data on workers to blacklist job applicants, including details of trade union activities
- Balfour Beatty response
- Costain, Sir Robert McAlpine did not respond

* Czech Republic: Unicredit Bank launches program to encourage gender equality in the workplace

* China: Thousands of gem cutters suffering from lung disease

* World Water Day 2009 & related events: News & reports highlighting private sector dimension

* USA: NAACP files lawsuits against HSBC, Wells Fargo alleging racism in mortgage lending

* Norway's Govt. Pension Fund divests from Dongfeng Motor, due to sale of military trucks to Burma

* USA: DiversityInc's "Top 50 Companies for Diversity" 2009
- Johnson & Johnson, AT&T, Ernst & Young, Marriott lead

* Guatemala: BBC report on Goldcorp mine - human rights impact assessments underway
- concerns include pollution reportedly causing skin infections among local Mayans

* Kazakhstan: First case of workplace religious discrimination is ruled in favour of worker

* "Pharma Futures 3" looks at links between business models & health in Brazil, China, India, other countries

* "Deadly ventures? Multinational corporations and paramilitaries in Colombia"

* Ukraine: UN Global Compact contest for journalism on business' social responsibility (deadline 30 Apr)

* Legal Accountability Portal: Update to profile of lawsuit against BP (re Colombia) -- new claims filed in UK on behalf of farmers allegedly affected by environmental damage

* UK: Conference on company taxation, poverty & development, Univ. of East Anglia, 29 May

* Upcoming event: Online conference on business contribution to peace building, 23 Mar - 22 May

* Español: Guatemala: Reportaje sobre beneficios e impactos negativos de la mina Marlin de Montana Exploradora (Goldcorp)

* Español: Perú: Empresa de seguridad privada Business Track (BTR) espiaba a ONGs, ambientalistas y otros según la policía

* Español: Colombia: Desplazados por la violencia vuelven a sus tierras en Chocó y encuentran empresas de palma en el lugar donde estaba su pueblo

* Español: Nicaragua: Supuestos agentes de Dole Fruit acusados de chantajear a campesinos para obstaculizar demanda sobre afectación a la salud de bananeros

* Español: España: Iberdrola firma plan con sindicatos que "garantizará la igualdad de trato" entre hombres y mujeres

* Español: España: Sitio web de Expansión dedicado exclusivamente a noticias sobre empresas y mujeres

* Español: Brasil: Arrestan a 4 activistas bolivianos en protesta contra represas del río Madera

* Español: Ecuador: Gobierno anula permiso de Acción Ecológica - ONG dice que es por su rechazo a la Ley de Minería
- Ministra dice que el gobierno le "devolverá el permiso"

* Français : Algérie : La silicose de plus en plus répandue, surtout parmi les tailleurs de pierre

* Français : Malaysie : ACCOR réclame qu'Interhill respecte des standards sociaux dans la construction d'un hôtel, à la suite d'une campagne de Bruno Manser Fonds

* Français : Global Witness pousse les grandes banques à ne pas conclure des affaires avec les dictateurs & les gouvernements corrompus

* Français : Coca-Cola investit 30 millions de dollars pour garantir l'accès à l'eau aux communautés africaines

* Français : Le fonds norvégien exclu Dongfeng Motor pour avoir vendu du matériel militaire à la Birmanie

ARCHIVE of past Weekly Updates / ARCHIVO de actualizaciones pasadas / ARCHIVE des Actualités hebdomadaires précédentes:

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - March 11, 2009

Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 11 March 2009

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

Español: ver abajo - Français : voir ci-dessous

* Tanzania: Shootings by police at Barrick Gold’s North Mara mine in Dec & Jan leave 2 dead
- Barrick responds

* Intl. Women's Day, 8 March: Reports & initiatives
- includes items on: Global gender pay gap (ITUC), Afghanistan, China, Mexico, UN Global Compact & UNIFEM event, impact of economic crisis on gender in the workplace (ILO), others

* Cadbury to source cocoa from fair trade suppliers
- Global Exchange, Intl. Labor Rights Forum welcome move, call on US firms to follow suit

* Independent Newmont-commissioned review calls on Newmont to better manage community relationships
- CEO commits to implementing its recommendations

* Inquiry by UK Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights: Call for evidence on business & human rights (deadline 1 May)

* Global Witness urges banks not to do business with dictators & corrupt govts.
- full report mentions banks including Bank of China, Bank of East Asia, Barclays, BNP Paribas, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, Santander

* Aim for Human Rights develops guide to assist companies in selecting appropriate human rights impact assessment tools

* Kazakhstan: "Money Thrown to the Wind" documentary says oil firms' social projects bring limited benefits

* "Human rights guidelines for pharmaceutical companies in relation to access to medicines: The sexual and reproductive health context", Paul Hunt and Rajat Khosla, Univ. of Essex

* CSR Asia: Business needs to be part of any new approach to human rights abuses in Burma

* QBE Insurance pulls out of Burma, following pressure by Burma Campaign UK

* Burma: Indications that tightened US sanctions on gems are working

* "Amsterdam Declaration": Global Reporting Initiative board calls on govts. to require greater corporate transparency on environmental, social, governance issues

* Report on Business & Human Rights Intl. Seminar, Paris, 4 & 5 Dec 2008

* Event: Panel on CSR & intl. law, launch of new book edited by Chip Pitts (19 Mar, McGill Univ., Montreal)

* Español: Ecuatorianos demandan en Canadá a Copper Mesa y la Bolsa de Toronto por violencia contra opositores de mina de cobre

* Español: Chile: Ingenieros, ONGs y pueblos originarios rechazan ducto al mar de Celco-Arauco por impacto a la salud y al medio ambiente
- Celco dice que ducto no pasaría por zona urbana y desembocaría fuera de zona de protección

* Español: México: "ISO 26000 y Derechos Laborales - Reflexiones y perspectivas desde las organizaciones sindicales y ciudadanas"

* Español: Argentina: Sindicato denuncia a empresas de seguridad por abusos laborales

* Español: Perú: Documental sobre el acceso al agua supuestamente amenazado por Minera Majaz (video)

* Español: España: 21 empresas son suspendidas del Pacto Mundial por no informar sobre responsabilidad social

* Español: Firstar Europe dice que hija de vicepresidenta de Zimbabue intentó venderles oro congoleño y que lo rechazaron por razones "éticas"

* Français : Cambodge : L’expulsion des habitants de Dey Krahom par 7NG condamnée par l’ONU & des ONGs des droits de l'homme
- Nous avons invité la compagnie à répondre - elle n’a pas répondu

* Français : Nike impose des conditions à ses fournisseurs pour s'adresser à la possibilité du trafic de main-d’œuvre dans sa chaîne d'approvisionnement

* Français : Poursuite en justice contre Copper Mesa et la bourse de Toronto au Canada pour avoir financé des présumés actes de violence en Equateur

* Français : Le transport maritime explore des pistes pour réduire ses émissions de gaz à effet de serre

* Français : Territoires occupés palestiniens : « Paradis » où les autorités israéliennes ne forcent pas les employeurs à respecter les normes environnementales et du travail

* Français : France : Bilan des engagements des entreprises en matière d'égalité professionnelle homme/femme lors de la journée internationale des femmes

* Français : Cameroun: Genesis Futuristic Technologies lance un projet de « télémédecine » pour les zones rurales mal desservies

ARCHIVE of past Weekly Updates / ARCHIVO de actualizaciones pasadas / ARCHIVE des Actualités hebdomadaires précédentes:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Business & human rights: Weekly Update - March 4, 2009

Weekly Update: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre - 4 March 2009

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

Español: ver abajo - Français : voir ci-dessous

* Liberia: "Getting a Better Deal from the Extractive Sector" - Revenue Watch report on recent concessions negotiation
- forewords by Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, George Soros

* UK Parliament's Joint Committee on Human Rights holds mini-conference on business & human rights, prior to inquiry
- presentation by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
- presentation by Corporate Responsibility (CORE) Coalition

* Uzbekistan: Human rights activists sue govt. for forcing children to work in cotton fields

* Cambodia: 7NG Construction forcibly evicts 152 families from Dey Krahorm, Phnom Penh
- we invited 7NG to respond but it has not done so - articles include some comments by its Chairman

* UK's Co-operative Financial Services helps fund legal action by aboriginal community against development of Canada's oil sands by companies such as Shell & BP

* HP and others unveil conclusions of pilot project to tackle electronic waste in Africa, and next steps

* Indonesia: Sidorajo mud volcano that displaced over 50,000: Natl. Human Rights Commission says likely triggered by gas project, cites abuses, may bring cases against private sector & govt.

* Intl. Rivers Network says multi-stakeholder hydropower sustainability criteria are "a giant step backward from current rights & standards"

* Lawsuit in Canadian court against Copper Mesa and TMX Group over violence against communities in Ecuador protesting a copper mine

* USA: "A human rights imperative": Arvind Ganesan of Human Rights Watch advocates passage of Employee Free Choice Act to make unions more accessible (radio commentary)
- other commentaries provided

* Shashi Tharoor responds to letter criticising his membership of Coca-Cola Foundation Advisory Board - letter cited water issues in Kerala, India

* "Managing water well": The role of the private sector in access to water

* Intl. Commission of Jurists call for tenders: "Project on access to justice for human rights abuse involving corporations" - studies to be done for: Brazil, Colombia, Dem. Rep. of the Congo, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland (deadline 20 Mar)

* Diamonds' role in Zimbabwe repression - Partnership Africa Canada accuses Kimberley Process of "apathy"

* New coalition to tackle internet child porn: NGOs, MasterCard, Microsoft, PayPal, VISA involved

* Summary profile of lawsuits against Pfizer over drug trials in Kano, Nigeria

* CAFOD comments on BHP Billiton response to its "Kept in the Dark" report on Philippines mining project (further to our 12 Nov 2008 Update)

* Liberia: Poor working conditions found at ArcelorMittal contractors including Odebrecht (railroad construction), Segal (security) - but possibility of improvements

* USA: Report finds persistent racial discrimination by real estate brokers on Long Island, New York

* Colombia: NGOs welcome partial return of land to Afro-Colombians displaced by armed forces, paramilitaries and palm oil firms

* India: NGO asks Kerala Govt. to compensate families of migrant workers allegedly burned to death by labour contractor

* Reply from NGOs to Sir Mark Moody-Stuart regarding UN Global Compact, PetroChina and Sudan

* Russia: Criminal proceedings over death of 2 workers at mine owned by Sibirskiy Delovoy Soyuz (our summary translation of Russian original)

* Upcoming event: Monrovia, Liberia: Intl. colloquium on promoting women's economic empowerment through right to decent work (8 March)

* Job announcement: Senior Programme Officer, Corporate Engagement, Intl. Alert - London (deadline 31 Mar)

* Job announcement: Manager, CSR Europe - Brussels (deadline 15 Mar)

* Español: Argentina: Piden que se investigue si AySA está contaminando el Riachuelo

* Español: Guatemala: Queman bus y golpean pasajeros en conexión a protestas contra planta de Cementos Progreso

* Español: Otra universidad en EE.UU. rompe con firma de ropa Russell, cuestionada por derechos laborales en Honduras (ya van 9 universidades)

* Español: México: Por lo menos 15 empresas en Aguascalientes integran a discapacitados en su lista laboral

* Español: Colombia: Central Unitaria de Trabajadores rechaza que protección de amenazados pase a empresas privadas de seguridad

* Español: Panamá: Vecinos de empresa ENSOL piden su cierre debido a "afectaciones" por gases tóxicos

* Español: Bolivia: Gobierno decreta que empresas no podrán despedir trabajadores con hijos de hasta 1 año

* Español: Colombia: Unión Fenosa aporta becas parciales para educación superior de jóvenes pobres

* Español: EarthRights publica detalles sobre las inversiones en Birmania de empresas Chinas - dice que "proporcionan apoyo financiero a la junta militar"

* Français : Représentants de peuples indigènes du Niger, d'Australie et des Etats-Unis alertent des parlementaires américains des dangers de l'extraction de l'uranium

* Français : Inde : Ikea donne $48 millions au programme de l'UNICEF pour la santé et la survie de l'enfant

* Français : Nigeria : Le torchage pratiqué par les compagnies pétrolières est un « désastre écologique et économique », selon un article d'AFP

* Français : Rép. Dém. du Congo : Rapport d'un atelier de formation sur le développement durable dans l'exploitation pétrolière et minière

ARCHIVE of past Weekly Updates / ARCHIVO de actualizaciones pasadas / ARCHIVE des Actualités hebdomadaires précédentes: