CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY - October 2012
Evaluation and Planning
The Corporate Accountability Working Group (CAWG) is exploring new strategies and spaces to strengthen corporate accountability for human rights, to advocate based on the extra-territorial obligations of States, and to ensure access to remedy. After an extended and primary focus on advocacy at the UN level and a substantial but frustrating push for a stronger set of UN Guiding Principles on Business & Human Rights in 2011, the CAWG Steering Committee (SC) members have been evaluating their work thus far and strategically considering their direction for the next period. Building on successful advocacy for precedent-setting UN regional consultations in Latin America and Africa, and involving affected communities in thematic consultations, the SC has reshaped the focus of the CAWG in 2012 and beyond. The key focus areas of the Working Group will be strategic case support, joint advocacy and standard setting, as well as capacity building in areas prioritized by membership.
In the first of these areas, the SC has prioritized close collaboration between CAWG members and broader Network Members who are directly affected by corporate malpractice. The CAWG will leverage skills and experience within the Working Group to assist locally-led campaigns for positive change. These efforts will advance individual cases and also push for wider changes in systems that perpetuate and facilitate corporate abuses of human rights, while opening new spaces for greater accountability.
The SC also affirmed that the CAWG will maintain its presence in international level debates, insisting on the centrality of affected communities, grassroots groups and national level organizations in international processes and standard-setting procedures. Beyond strategic case support and capacity building (below), some joint activities are already underway. The CAWG is planning to hold a gathering of representatives of people affected by corporate human rights abuse to provide the space for these stakeholders to elevate their perspectives and concerns within international dialogues concerning access to remedy, accountability and other key issues. Furthermore, several members of the CAWG are working together on a project that examines the relationship between development aid agencies and mining companies.
ESCR-Strategic Case Support
In the first few months of the year, the CAWG has lent assistance to some important corporate accountability struggles in which Network partners in India, Malawi and Mexico are involved. In India, several members of ESCR-Net are working to support community groups facing serious human rights abuses as a result of resisting a large iron ore mine and steel plant being built by Korean company, POSCO, in the state of Odisha. Assistance has been provided to try and better coordinate international advocacy efforts related to this well-known project and to help develop an effective international corporate accountability strategy with the HLRN and others. This case has the strategic potential of influencing a leading BRIC country, India, and ultimately similar models of development in other States.
Citizens For Justice (CFJ) in Malawi is working to lobby the Malawian government and Australian mining companies to account for the worst impacts of the emerging uranium mining industry. ESCR-Net has begun working with CFJ to help further their advocacy efforts in Australia in collaboration with Australian civil society networks. There are significant benefits to gain from influencing Australia’s mineral extraction policy overseas. It is one of the largest mining economies in the world, and many other States follow their lead as ‘world’s best practice.’
The Steering Committee has committed the CAWG to collectively draw on the skills and expertise within the Group to build the capacity of a wider scope of members, on issues prioritized by members. So far, this commitment has led to the identification of areas in which members are requesting increased training, such as investor research and advocacy, and the SC is beginning a process to identify, adapt or create relevant materials. In cases where training materials have already been developed that meet members’ needs, the CAWG will seek to partner with relevant organizations to deliver trainings to CAWG members.
Please contact Dominic Renfrey if you are interested in finding out more about this Working Group and how to get involved at drenfrey [at] escr-net.org.