Corporate Accountability

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We are hopeful that the comments presented in this submission provide the basis for ongoing dialogue and the ultimate strengthening of corporate accountability with regard to human rights.  We would particularly like to see the report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights contribute to placing the responsibilities of companies with regard to human rights firmly on the Commission on Human Rights’ agenda.
The ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group has been highlighting, publishing, and challenging cases of human rights abuses involving business actors, especially through its new Business and Human Rights Documentation (B-HRD) Project.
The ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group advocates for corporate accountability at the international level. The Working Group has actively supported the UN Human Rights Norms for Business (UN Norms), as the first comprehensive, international statement of the human rights responsibilities of companies. To further education and advocacy efforts, the Working Group created and widely distributed the UN Human Rights Norms for Business: Briefing Kit.
In March 2006, the Interim Report of the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General on Human Rights and Business was published in English. The steering committee of the ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group worked together with other ESCR-Net Members and partner NGOs to draft a collective response. While this joint letter responds to a few significant areas of concern in the interim report, we have attempted to constructively suggest beneficial ways forward as the Special Representative enters the second year of his mandate. Over 100 organizations and individuals have endorsed this Joint NGO Letter. On 22 May 2006, the response of the Special Representative to the Joint NGO Letter outlined his work plan and his understanding of his mandate.

The ESCR-Net Corporate Accountability Working Group works to strengthen the human rights accountability of business actors operating in different sectors and regions, advocating for a common, international set of standards articulating the human rights responsibilities of business, which must ultimately be enforceable.

Working Group(s) / Area(s) of Work: 

Neuquén Province's Official Defender of Minors filed an amparo action to protect the health of children and youth in the indigenous Mapuche community of Paynemil, because they had been exposed to water contaminated with lead and mercury. The applicant requested that the State be ordered to provide enough drinking water to ensure the survival of the affected community, to conduct the diagnosis and treatment of affected minors, and to adopt adequate measures to prevent future soil and water contamination.

Several organizations of users and consumers, and human rights organizations submitted to International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) a “Petition for Transparency and Public Participation as Amicus Curiae,” within the framework of proceedings started by Aguas Argentinas, Suez and Vivendi. These companies demanded from the State of Argentina an indemnification for damages caused upon their investments as a result of the public utility rates freeze following Argentina's abandonment in 2001 of the system that pegged its currency to the dollar.