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Corporate Accountability

Peoples' Forum on Human Rights & Business (Bangkok; November 5-7, 2013)

In 2013 the Corporate Accountability Working Group (CAWG), co-hosting with FORUM-ASIA (an ESCR-Net member), will hold an international gathering of social movements and civil society groups working on corporate accountability, to: 

  • Facilitate greater opportunities for ESCR-Net members and allies to collectively develop CAWG strategies that push for I) stronger corporate accountabilty standards and mechanisms, and II) the development of effective remedy mechanisms for affected people; 
  • Share strategies, skills and experiences for how to collaboratively support CAWG members to successfully combat cases of corporate abuse of human rights; 
  • Develop stronger ties across the CAWG membership, and;
  • Steer the planning for the collective activities of the CAWG 2014 Workplan

For more information on the ESCR-Net Peoples' Forum on Human Rights & Business see our dedicated event website here.

Standards Setting

Following the adoption of the UN Guiding Principles on Human Rights and Business by the Human Rights Council, the CAWG will stay engaged strategically with other important international and regional standard setting initiatives. The CAWG will also maintain a place in emerging dialogues within international civil society around opportunities for advancing hard law norm development, engaging in a way that maintains a priority focus on advancing the ability of affected people to participate in these discussions.  Some examples of the CAWG’s work in standard setting include:

Capacity Building

Increasingly there are useful resources available to groups affected by corporate abuse to assist in pursuing corporate accountability mechanisms.  However, these resources alone do not ensure groups are able to use them effectively. Drawing on the wealth of knowledge on conducting corporate accountability campaigns within the CAWG, the Group periodically facilitates mutual learning exchanges on key corporate accountability research and campaign techniques. The objectives of these kinds of trainings are to further the capacity of CAWG members and partners to: 

  • Understand the range of corporate accountability mechanisms available

  • Identify which corporate accountability mechanisms are most appropriate for their objectives,

  • Provide guidance on how groups can engage these mechanisms,

  • Assist groups to prepare and implement advocacy strategies using these mechanisms. 

Strategic Case Support

ESCR-Net Members and partners frequently approach the Network, through various Working Groups, seeking strategic input and assistance in their cases of human rights abuse.  A high proportion of these cases have a corporate dimension to them and often the corporate accountability perspectives of these cases have not been fully explored.  Strategic case support and corporate accountability mechanism identification is something the ESCR-Net CAWG is ideally placed to provide to Members and partners.

In substance, this kind of assistance means:

  • Engaging with grassroots organizations, affected communities, and their allies to evaluate their specific objectives in relation to different advocacy strategies.

  • Based on stated objectives and desired approach, identifying which of many potential corporate accountability strategies or mechanisms best fulfill these objectives;

  • Facilitating connections and active partnerships with members of the CAWG that have the closest degree of expertise and experience in pursuing identified strategies or mechanisms, to understand their potential pitfalls and how best to gain the most from them. 

Where expertise and capacity exists to do so, and the cases match the criteria for case support – [hyperlinked] for the CAWG, the Group will collectively provide assistance, with a view to opening or strengthening spaces for accountability and remedy. When the CAWG is not able to provide collective and ongoing support, the group works to facilitate connections with individual Members and to needed resources.

The CAWG is currently providing assistance in the following cases:

Other Collective Initiatives

Members of the CAWG collaborate together on specific areas of strategic importance for advancing progress in the corporate accountability field.  These initiatives develop around the collective interests of several members.  Some are temporary, connected to opportunities that arise, for example, in relation to a review of development bank safeguard policies or preparation for a country’s Universal Periodic Review session. Others are more long term, without fixed timelines integrated into the collaboration.  The members of the CAWG are currently undertaking the following collective initiative:

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