Doing Business Right – Monthly Report – July & August 2019 - By Maisie Biggs

Editor's note: Maisie Biggs graduated with a MSc in Global Crime, Justice and Security from the University of Edinburgh and holds a LLB from University College London. She is currently working with the Asser Institute in The Hague. She has previously worked for International Justice Mission in South Asia and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) in Amsterdam.

 

Introduction

This report compiles all relevant news, events and materials on Doing Business Right based on the coverage provided on our twitter feed @DoinBizRight and on various websites. You are invited to contribute to this compilation via the comments section below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we may have overlooked.

 

The Headlines

Revised Draft of Treaty on Human Rights and TNCs has been published

The Revised Draft has been released here by the Permanent Mission of Ecuador. The Draft comes ahead of the intergovernmental negotiations to be held at the 5th session of Open-Ended Intergovernmental Working Group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG). For further comment and context, see Larry Catá Backer's blog, the BHRRC's debate the treaty section on the revised draft, as well as the BHRJ Blog's series on the revised draft.

Business Roundtable redefined the group’s Purpose of a Corporation 

A prominent group of business leaders has redefined its purpose of a corporation to include stakeholder interests. In a statement signed by 181 CEO members of the Business Roundtable, an American group of business leaders, the statement of “the purpose of a corporation” has been altered from the long-standing commitment to shareholder primacy, to a broader ‘Commitment to All Stakeholders’. The change was announced in an advertisement in the Wall Street Journal and signed by 181 members, including the business leaders of Amazon, American Airlines, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, Marriott, Lockheed Martin, Morgan Stanley, UPS, and Walmart.

Chairman of Business Roundtable and CEO of JPMorgan Chase, Jamie Dimon, explained in the release: “The American dream is alive, but fraying. Major employers are investing in their workers and communities because they know it is the only way to be successful over the long term. These modernized principles reflect the business community’s unwavering commitment to continue to push for an economy that serves all Americans.”

This reconceptualisation of the purpose of corporations has been met with cautious enthusiasm; however, the statement has no bearing on the legal obligations of the signatories, and whether this materially alters business conduct by the signatories’ companies is yet to be seen.

The ‘Business Roundtable Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation’ can be found here.

UK Supreme Court to hear Okpabi case against Shell

The Supreme Court has granted permission for Nigerian communities to appeal their case concerning environmental degradation against Royal Dutch Shell. Previously the Court of Appeals rejected jurisdiction for the claimants, however the Court’s reasoning was fundamentally undermined by the subsequent Supreme Court judgement in Vedanta. See our previous post here concerning how these cases are related, and how Vedanta has paved the way for jurisdiction to be found in the Okpabi case. See the statement by Leigh Day, working with the appellants, here.

In another case concerning the liability of a UK parent company for harms perpetrated abroad by a subsidiary that hinged on jurisdiction, the Supreme Court refused permission in AAA v Unilever PLC for Unilever subsidiary employees to appeal. Leigh Day have announced they will now move to file cases with the UN Working Group and the OECD.

Samsung France indicted for deceptive commercial practices for not abiding by CSR statements

NGOs Sherpa and ActionAid France have successfully obtained an indictment against Samsung France for deceptive commercial practices. Preliminary charges were lodged in April by a Paris investigating magistrate in the first French case in which ethical commitments have been recognised as likely to constitute commercial practice.

The organisations argue that public ethical commitments by Samsung to workers' rights were misleading, citing alleged labour abuses and child labour in factories in China, South Korea and Vietnam. The case represents a novel approach to litigating extraterritorial business human rights abuses; even in the aforementioned Vedanta case in the UK, there was a similar (brief) suggestion that CSR-style public commitments could be actionable.

Guatemalan shooting victims announce settlement with Pan American Silver in Canada

It has been announced that landmark 2017 Canadian case Garcia v. Tahoe Resources has been resolved between the parties. The case concerned remedy for 2013 shooting of protesters by Tahoe Resources mine security on April 27, 2013 outside Tahoe’s Escobal Mine in south-east Guatemala. The resolution included a public apology from Pan American Silver, who acquired Tahoe Resources earlier this year, while other terms of the settlement remain confidential. Settlements were reached with three of the claimants earlier, but the remaining four only settled on 30 July when PAS issued a public apology and acknowledgement of the violation of their human rights by Tahoe.

In 2017, the BC Court of Appeal confirmed jurisdiction over the case in Canada, finding that the “highly politicized environment” surrounding the mine meant that there was a “real risk” that the plaintiffs would not obtain justice in Guatemala, permitting the claimants to use the Canadian forum. The head of security for the mine is also facing criminal proceedings in Guatemala.

Remedy being reached has led to celebration from commentators, however no further legal precedent has been set than that from the 2017 appeal, so it might have limited value for future claimants. It has been surmised that settlement was reached because of the overwhelming evidence in the case: video footage from security cameras showed protestors being shot in the back as they fled the mine site.

See also: The GuardianBrazilian mining company to pay out £86m for disaster that killed almost 300 people and San Francisco ChronicleSuit alleging US chocolate makers collaborated in slave labor proceeds for US developments.

 More...


International Criminal Law and Corporate Actors - Part 3: War Crimes before Domestic Courts - By Maisie Biggs

Editor’s note: Maisie Biggs graduated with a MSc in Global Crime, Justice and Security from the University of Edinburgh and holds a LLB from University College London. She is currently working with the Asser Institute in The Hague.  She has previously worked for International Justice Mission in South Asia and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) in Amsterdam.

 

The ‘web’ of domestic statutory liability for international criminal law (ICL) violations by legal persons has spread. The previous post in this series outlined developments at the international level, however domestic courts play a fundamental role in its development and have been far more active on this front. These domestic developments are particularly remarkable in France, The Netherlands and Sweden. The American Alien Tort Statute caselaw will be discussed in the next post in this series. 

Domestic-level developments

As the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the Human Rights Council, John Ruggie has highlighted the dual role of national courts and international tribunals in developing corporate responsibility for international crimes:

“One [of two developments] is the expansion and refinement of individual responsibility by the international ad hoc criminal tribunals and the ICC Statute; the other is the extension of responsibility for international crimes to corporations under domestic law. The complex interaction between the two is creating an expanding web of potential corporate liability for international crimes, imposed through national courts.[1]

The ICC was always intended to be supplementary to domestic courts, which are integral to the implementation and development of international criminal law.[2] The ICC’s remit (and resources) do not permit it to be the forum for the vast majority of international crimes, rather it (ideally) should only be resorted to when the relevant domestic courts are unwilling or unable to field international criminal law claims. The development of ICL at the domestic level means that it may be applied to legal persons in those forums.

The comparative law issue was at the crux of the debates at the Rome Conference surrounding the drafting of the Rome Statute; it was a step too far for an international instrument to impose a new and novel application of criminal law (to legal persons) on states with no prior history of doing so.[3] In the interim however, states have begun to do so voluntarily.[4] Anita Ramasastry and Robert C Thompson completed a wide survey of 16 countries and found that the “potential web of liability”[5] is expanding. While there are variations in how criminal conduct and intent are attributed to the company, and the type of liability itself, countries are increasingly subjecting business entities to statutory liability for international crimes.

David Scheffer, having witnessed the climate surrounding corporate criminal liability during the Rome conference negotiations, has since argued that legal systems and international law have evolved due in part to those inconclusive negotiations:

“States certainly did not act as if the Rome Treaty precluded expanding corporate liability into the realm of atrocity crimes. Indeed, one might speculate that the Rome Treaty, by focusing ratifying States’ attention on atrocity crimes, provided an impetus to accord greater accountability within their domestic legal systems.” [6]

Common-law countries in general adopted corporate criminal liability earlier than civil law, however these have come on board more recently; the highest-profile hold outs against this trend remain Germany, Sweden and Russia, which use alternative mechanisms to attach liability for corporate involvement in international crimes.[7] However, actual prosecution of legal persons remains rare. Dieneke De Vos’s run down of pre-2018 developments which already evidenced the “emerging norm” of finding potential corporate liability for ICL violations at the domestic level, at the same time acknowledged the rarity of prosecution.

 

The Netherlands

A number of high-profile Dutch cases have arisen in recent years of corporate actors being prosecuted for war crimes and international crimes, most notably in 2017 the Dutch Court of Appeal of ’s-Hertogenbosch convicted the arms-dealer and businessman Kouwenhoven for complicity in war crimes in Liberia. Dutchman Frans van Anraat was similarly prosecuted in 2005 for complicity in war crimes, due to his company selling the chemical ‘thiodiglycol’ to Saddam Hussein’s regime.

In Dutch law a corporation can be criminally liable under article 51(1) of the Dutch Penal Code (DPC).[8] The Dutch Supreme Court has outlined the circumstances in which it would be reasonable to impute illegal conduct to the corporation in the Drijfmest case, which are relatively flexible.[9] International crimes are incorporated into Dutch domestic law through the International Crimes Act (ICA) 2003, which defined the offences as crimes (Section 10) and did not exclude legal persons (Section 16).

Businessmen have been convicted in the aforementioned Van Anraat and Kouwenhoven cases in the Netherlands, however despite the possibility of corporate criminal liability for international crimes and the Dutch reputation for being a ‘pioneer’ in this area, successful prosecutions have yet to materialise, and no cases have yet made it to the trial phase.[10]

Proceedings under the ICA were initiated against a corporation, Lima Holding B.V., in the Riwal case. The Palestinian NGO Al Haq submitted a complaint against the Dutch company for its role in the construction of a security barrier between the West Bank and Israel. The prosecutor opted not to try the case, citing practical resource issues and lack of cooperation from Israeli authorities with the extraterritorial investigation. Public prosecutor Thijs Berger has since explained that “access to the relevant administration was not possible as the information was located at a subsidiary of the corporation in Israel and the Israeli authorities refused to act on requests for legal assistance sent by the Dutch Public Prosecutor.”[11] Though not ICL cases, Dutch prosecutors have met with more success prosecuting companies for transnational crimes in the international corruption cases of SBM Offshore and VimpelCom.[12]

The reasons for the lack of Dutch prosecutions have been attributed to possible adverse impacts of a prosecution on the Dutch economy; the limited capacity of the Dutch Public Prosecutor’s Office; the practical issues surrounding conducting investigations on foreign territory; and the bankruptcy or otherwise disappearance of the company in question.[13]

 

France

The aforementioned cases, though they highlight the role of corporate actors in conflicts, nonetheless all involve individual liability of natural persons. However, the recent French Lafarge case involves the prosecution of the company itself (in addition to former company executives) for international crimes, including complicity in war crimes, crimes against humanity, financing of a terrorist enterprise, deliberate endangerment of people's lives and forced labour.[14]

French corporate criminal liability is vicarious: offences must be “committed on their account by their organs or representatives.”[15] For the purposes of ICL prosecutions, this might prove an issue in the future regarding who properly is a ‘representative’ or organ for the purposes of the company’s liability. However, on the other hand it does partially lower the bar for finding corporate liability once that representative’s fault[16] has been determined.[17] There are more procedural barriers than under the Dutch system, leading to questions about what these would mean should a prosecution materialise. Unlike the Dutch, the French system of universal jurisdiction for core crimes does not apply to legal persons, and the jurisdictional double criminality requirement may mean that companies may not be prosecuted if the country where the crime took place does not also subject legal persons to criminal liability.[18]

The Lafarge case in France may be the most discussed, potentially impactful contemporary case for corporate criminal liability under ICL, however French civil society groups have been especially proactive in bringing cases before prosecutors and so there are other similar cases that started before Lafarge.

The 2009 DLH France case concerned the purchase of illegally obtained timber which was helping fund the Liberian civil war, however the case was dismissed by the Public Prosecutor in 2013.[19] The Amesys case concerned the French company Amesys which contracted with the Libyan intelligence services to supply a communications surveillance system, in so doing assisting the Gaddafi regime violently target political opponents and protestors. The case for complicity in acts of torture followed a complaint filed by FIDH (Fédération Internationale des Droits de lHomme) and the French Human Rights League (Ligue française des droits de lHomme - LDH), and is being heard before the Specialised War Crimes Unit within the Paris Tribunal (Tribunal de grande instance). The case is ongoing.

The BNP Paribas Rwanda case concerns complicity in the Rwandan genocide by the French bank. In 2017 the public prosecutor opened a judicial investigation into charges of complicity in genocide and complicity of crimes against humanity. These specifically concern $1.3m USD in funds transferred by the bank (in violation of a United Nations arms embargo) that were allegedly used to purchase weapons used in the genocide.[20] The initial complaint was filed by Sherpa, Ibuka France, and the Collectif des Parties Civiles pour le Rwanda. This case is also ongoing.

The 2017 judicial investigation into the Lafarge case has caused greater interest in observers. The European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), Sherpa, and some of Lafarge’s former employees filed a criminal complaint against the French company for activities in 2013-14 by its Syrian subsidiary. The case concerns a cement plant situated in northeastern Syria which was acquired by Lafarge SA (now called LafargeHolcim) in 2007, and continued operations as Islamic State forces occupied the area. Lafarge is accused of financing IS through commercial transactions, from buying raw materials to paying fees to armed groups to continue factory operations. Now the company itself, in addition to eight of its former executives, is facing criminal prosecution, formally indicted on charges of complicity in crimes against humanity, endangerment of people's lives and financing of a terrorist enterprise.

 

Sweden

The Swedish model, and past caselaw, were covered in our case note on the Lundin Petroleum case. In brief summary, Swedish prosecutors have utilised universal jurisdiction for international crimes in past to prosecute three individuals involved in the Rwandan genocide, and several cases of war crimes committed during the Balkan Wars.

The Lundin case concerns the culpability of Swedish corporate actors for harms perpetrated during Sudan’s oil wars. Forfeiture of economic benefits and a corporate fine (the closest punitive equivalent to corporate criminal liability under Swedish law[21]) are being levelled at Swedish oil company Lundin Petroleum SA, and two company directors are personally facing criminal prosecution for aiding and abetting war crimes and crimes against humanity. The forfeiture claim is for the whole profit of the oil exploitation over the years Lundin was involved in Sudan, and the two men face life in prison if found guilty, so the charges are not insubstantial. The Swedish Government’s authorisation is necessary in extraterritorial cases to allow the prosecution.[22] It was granted in this case, and subsequently the Supreme Administrative Court denied Lundin’s appeal to override the decision in favour of prosecution. Swedish police have also opened a criminal investigation into harassment of witnesses.

At the Asser event on the Lundin case, Miriam Ingeson argued that the increased capacity building for Swedish prosecutors to pursue international crimes, and a positive duty to prosecute under Swedish law have likely led to the increase in these investigations. She also explained this case will challenge Swedish courts with the question of which general principles to apply on accomplice liability; international tribunals, including the courts of Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and ICC have developed international-level principles that states are not necessarily obliged to apply. This case however does reference general international legal rules, so the Swedish rules on accomplice liability may yield to those developed by international tribunals.

The harms being investigated by the Swedish prosecutors and the depth of the company’s alleged involvement are arguably more serious than those in the French Lafarge case. Both cases are (slowly) unfolding, potentially developing customary ICL in the process, so comparisons between the two will inevitably continue.

 

Conclusion

The previous post discussed the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) case, and how heavily the judge leaned on developments in domestic courts concerning corporate liability. That judgement and these domestic developments are evidencing the interplay between the application of ICL in domestic courts[23] and the international tribunals. The 2009 prophecy of Joanna Kyriakakis now seems especially prescient:

“[T]he growing trend in legal systems in Europe, Asia, and South America to incorporate extraterritorial corporate liability for international crimes will likely function as a catalyst for courts to construe international criminal law so as to apply to corporations as non-state actors, or even bring the issue of corporate liability back to the agenda of the states parties to the ICC.”[24]

Actual prosecutions are sparse however there is nonetheless a developing trend to support the STL judge’s conclusions. This trend is still only on paper: domestic statutory corporate liability for ICL violations has become widespread, however even in these particularly active jurisdictions there have been no convictions of legal persons for international crimes. The extreme expense, political and economic issues inherent in any case of this kind preclude there ever being a deluge of cases to look at, so the small number of cases successfully making it to the investigation stages are cause for analysis. The next post in this series will be addressing the Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co and Jesner v Arab Bank cases before American courts, and specifically looking to the role of civil law in ICL.


[1] HRC, ‘Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises, Business and Human Rights: Mapping International Standards of Responsibility and Accountability for Corporate Acts’ UN Doc. A/HRC/4/35 (19 February 2007) para 22.

[2] See Mark Klamberg, ‘International Criminal Law in Swedish Courts: The Principle of Legality in the Arklöv Case’ (2009) 9 International Criminal Law Review 395.

[3] Joanna Kyriakakis, ‘Corporate Criminal Liability and the ICC Statute: The Comparative Law Challenge’ (2009) 56 Netherlands International L Rev 333, 348.

[4] David Scheffer, ‘Corporate Liability under the Rome Statute’ (2016) 57 Harvard International Law Journal Online Symposium 35, 38. See also his Amicus Curiae briefs in both Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co and Jesner v Arab Bank, PLC, which strongly argue the evolution of corporate criminal liability since the drafting of the Rome Statute.

[5] Anita Ramasastry and Robert C Thompson, ‘Commerce, Crime and Conflict: Legal Remedies for Private Sector Liability for Grave Breaches of International Law: A Survey of Sixteen Countries’ (Fafo-report no. 536, 2006) 27.

[6]Brief of Ambassador David J. Scheffer, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law, as Amicus Curiae in Support of the Petitioners’ Joseph Jesner, et al., v. Arab Bank PLC, 822 F.3d 34 (2d Cir. 2016) (Jun. 26, 2017) 6.

[7] Sabine Gless and Sarah Wood, ‘General Report on Prosecuting Corporations for Violations of International Criminal Law: Jurisdictional Issues’ in S Gless and S Broniszewska (eds) Prosecuting Corporations for Violations of International Criminal Law: Jurisdictional Issues (International Colloquium Section 4, Basel, 21-23 June 2017) 18.

[8] Article 51 Dutch Penal Code:

[…] 2. If an offence has been committed by a legal person, prosecution can be instituted and the punishments and measures provided by law can be imposed, if applicable, on:

a. The legal person, or

b. Those who have ordered the offence, as well as on those who have actually controlled the forbidden act, or

c. The persons mentioned under 1. And 2. Together

3. For the application of the former subsections, equal status as a legal person applies to a company without legal personality, a partnership, a firm of ship owners, and a separate capital sum assembled for a special purpose.

[9] See English summary in Emma van Gelder and Cedric Ryngaert, ‘Dutch Report on Prosecuting Corporations for Violations of International Criminal Law’ in S Gless and S Broniszewska (eds) Prosecuting Corporations for Violations of International Criminal Law: Jurisdictional Issues (International Colloquium Section 4, Basel, 21-23 June 2017) 114.

[10] Cedric Ryngaert, ‘Accountability for Corporate Human Rights Abuses: Lessons from the Possible Exercise of Dutch National Criminal Jurisdiction over Multinational Corporations’ (2018) 29 Criminal Law Forum 1, 8.

[11] van Gelder and Ryngaert (n 10) 129.

[12] ibid 130.

[13] ibid 143.

[14] For more background on this case, see the previous Doing Business Right post by Alexandru Tofan.

[15] France Penal Code, Article 121-2 [paragraph 1].

[16] France Penal Code, Article 121-2 [paragraph 3]: “The criminal liability of legal persons does not exclude that of the natural persons who are perpetrators or accomplices to the same act”.

[17] “In an important judgment of 2001 the Court of cassation stated that the body’s or representative’s fault is sufficient to trigger the criminal liability of the corporation in case the offence has been committed on the legal person’s behalf. It is not necessary to characterize a separate fault of the corporation” in Juliette Lelieur, ‘French Report on Prosecuting Corporations for Violations of International Criminal Law’ in S Gless and S Broniszewska (eds) Prosecuting Corporations for Violations of International Criminal Law: Jurisdictional Issues (International Colloquium Section 4, Basel, 21-23 June 2017) 185.

[18] ibid 180.

[19] Of note: the case was at least partially under French criminal law rather than application of ICL.

[20] This is not the first time the bank has faced these types of claims: “The investigation into BNP comes three years after US regulators extracted a record $8.9bn fine and a guilty plea from the bank, finding that it broke US sanctions by processing more than $30bn of transactions for groups in Sudan, Iran and Cuba between 2002 and 2012. The bank was also given a one-year ban on clearing some dollar transactions.” in Martin Arnold, ‘BNP Paribas under investigation over role in Rwanda genocide’ Financial Times (September 25 2017).

[21] In the Swedish context “a corporate fine is not considered a penalty for a crime but is an extraordinary legal remedy serving as a repressive sanction supplanting corporate criminal liability,” in Miriam Ingeson and Alexandra Lily Kather, ‘The Road Less Traveled: How Corporate Directors Could be Held Individually Liable in Sweden for Corporate Atrocity Crimes Abroad’.

[22] ibid.

[23] Jonathan Clough, ‘Not-so-innocents abroad: corporate criminal liability for human rights abuses’ (2005) 11(1) Australian Journal of Human Rights 1, 7.

[24] Kyriakakis (n 3) 348.

The Rise of Human Rights Due Diligence (Part III): A Deep Dive into Adidas’ Practices - By Shamistha Selvaratnam

Editor’s note: Shamistha Selvaratnam is a LLM Candidate of the Advanced Masters of European and International Human Rights Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Prior to commencing the LLM, she worked as a business and human rights solicitor in Australia where she specialised in promoting business respect for human rights through engagement with policy, law and practice.

 

The tragic collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013, which killed over one thousand workers and injured more than two thousand, brought global attention to the potential human rights risks and impacts that are inherent to the garment and footwear sector.[1] This sector employs millions of workers within its supply chain in order to enable large-scale production of goods as quickly as possible at the lowest cost as market trends and consumer preferences change.[2] These workers are often present in countries where the respect for human rights and labour rights is weak. This creates an environment that is conducive to human rights abuses. Key risks in this sector include child labour, sexual harassment and gender-based violence, forced labour, non-compliance with minimum wage laws and excessive work hours.[3] Accordingly, brands such as Adidas face the challenge of conducting effective human rights due diligence (HRDD), particularly in their supply chains. 

This third blog of a series of articles dedicated to HRDD is a case study looking at how HRDD has materialised in practice within Adidas’ supply chains. It will be followed by another case study examining the steps taken by Unilever in order to operationalise the concept of HRDD. To wrap up the series, a final piece will reflect on the effectiveness of the turn to HRDD to strengthen respect of human rights by businesses. More...

Doing Business Right – Monthly Report – April 2019 - By Shamistha Selvaratnan

Editor’s note: Shamistha Selvaratnam is a LLM Candidate of the Advanced Masters of European and International Human Rights Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Prior to commencing the LLM, she worked as a business and human rights solicitor in Australia where she specialised in promoting business respect for human rights through engagement with policy, law and practice.


Introduction

This report compiles all relevant news, events and materials on Doing Business Right based on the coverage provided on our twitter feed @DoinBizRight and on various websites. You are invited to contribute to this compilation via the comments section below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we may have overlooked.


The Headlines

UK Supreme Court hands down judgment denying appeal by Vedanta

Following a significant UK Supreme Court jurisdiction case this month, for the first time a UK company will face trial in their home jurisdiction for environmental and human rights impacts associated with its foreign subsidiary. In Vedanta Resources PLC and another (Appellants) v Lungowe and others (Respondents) [2019] UKSC 20, the Supreme Court denied an appeal by Vedanta Resources and its Zambian subsidiary KCM, and allowed the claim to proceed to merits in England. The Court made it clear the real risk that the claimants would not obtain access to substantial justice in Zambia was the deciding factor in the case.

The big news is the Court’s prioritisation of access to justice as a jurisdictional hook for claims in England, however the finding of a “real triable issue” between a foreign claimant and UK parent company is also of great significance. The Court lowered the (previously insurmountable) bar for evidence the claimants have to provide at the pre-trial stage, allowing victims of corporate abuses to rely more heavily on the potential future disclosure of internal defendant documents. The Court called for a more liberal, less formalistic approach to determining whether a parent company potentially exercised control, saying that the existing legal criteria ought not to be a ‘straitjacket’ on the courts.

To the relief of those following previous cases like Okpabi, Lord Briggs confirmed that the size of a company’s operations does not dilute a duty of care – under the previous state of the law, the liability of a company decreased as its power and size increased. Additionally, company group-wide Corporate Social Responsibility policies and guidelines can now potentially be a basis to argue a case of parent company control. Companies making public statements that they protect the environment and human rights in their operations may now be held to these press-friendly representations. Read our full analysis of the case here. More...




National Human Rights Institutions as Gateways to Remedy under the UNGPs: The Romanian Institute for Human Rights (Part.3) - By Alexandru Tofan

Editor's Note: Alexandru Rares Tofan recently graduated with an LLM in Transnational Law from King’s College London where he focused on international human rights law, transnational litigation and international law. He is currently an intern with the Doing Business Right project at the Asser Institute in The Hague. He previously worked as a research assistant at the Transnational Law Institute in London on several projects pertaining to human rights, labour law and transnational corporate conduct.


The Romanian Institute for Human Rights (‘Institutul Român pentru Drepturile Omului’, hereinafter RIHR) was established on 30 January 1991 on the basis of Law No 9/1991. It is an independent public body that has as its main purposes the promotion of human rights education and the monitoring of compliance with human rights in Romania (see Art. 2). The duties of the institute include carrying out research, disseminating information, organising events and conferences for capacity-building and awareness raising, advising the legislative branch on human rights aspects of new enactments, and reporting on compliance with human rights (see Art. 3). The RIHR’s status as a national human rights institution is currently being transferred to the People’s Advocate Institution (see here), which is an ombudsman institution with general jurisdiction. The process for obtaining accreditation from GANHRI is currently in its incipient stages pending the approval by the Senate of Law 382/2018 concerning the amendment of the law governing the People’s Advocate Institution. In view of this development, this article undertakes a forward-looking approach by analysing RIHR’s current efforts on business and human rights as well as any foreseeable changes.

This article analyses two types of actions in order to observe the extent to which the RIHR has assumed its role in promoting access to remedy in business and human rights cases. According to the 2010 Edinburgh Declaration of the International Co-ordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC), the participation of NHRIs in the remedial process may be either direct or indirect. As stated above however, the RIHR lacks a complaints mechanism. For this reason, this article will adopt a forward-looking analysis by looking at the complaint mechanism of the People’s Advocate Institution (PAI) to ascertain whether this new procedure complies with the vision for NHRIs under the UNGPs. As will be shown, the field of business and human rights has not been at the top of the RIHR’s agenda. Worryingly, the forthcoming transfer of NHRI status to PAI may in fact represent a step back in this sense.

The Paris Principles (PP) dictate that national human rights institutions may directly participate in providing access to justice by hearing and considering complaints. While this does not fall in the competences of the RIHR, it is interesting to analyse whether its successor’s complaints mechanism is aligned with the PPs in its current form. According to the current legislative proposal, the PAI would have the authority to decide over complaints alleging any violation of human rights but only to the extent that the respondent is a public authority, including public companies (see Art. 11 (c)). Should it satisfy itself that a right has been breached, it may request the public authority to take compensatory measures and it may award reparation.

Restricting the complaints mechanism’s jurisdiction to cover only public authorities severely limits its usefulness in business and human rights cases. It means that victims of corporate human rights abuses by private companies will not able to enjoy a routinized alternative to instituting legal proceedings. This limited jurisdictional reach also obstructs the fulfilment of the institution’s role as a mediatory or conciliatory body in business and human rights cases. While it is commendable that the PAI may handle cases alleging violations of any human rights, the ratione personae jurisdiction is too limited to foster the achievement of its envisioned purposes under the UNGPs. Extending the scope of the complaints mechanism to cover private persons as offenders would enable its alignment with both the Paris Principles and the UNGPs. It would also in all likeliness lead towards the bettering of its accreditation status under the GANHRI (the RIHR was previously given C-status).

As to indirect participation, the RIHR has only marginally addressed the field of business and human rights in its activities. For instance, in 2014 and 2015, it has conducted research and organised debates based on the UNGPs, the European Strategy for CSR and the Action Plan of the European Network of NHRIs. These debates included talks of a national action plan in which to set out the priorities of the Romanian government in this field. The RIHR has further held separate conferences on business and human rights (such as the one held together with the UNESCO Office for Human Rights, Democracy, Peace and Tolerance) or as part of its annual conferences (see the 2016 conference where business and human rights was treated as a new challenge to the field of human rights). The RIHR is also a founding member of the CLARITY project alongside eleven other national human rights institutions from the EU. This project aims to raise awareness and enhance the general public’s knowledge about their fundamental rights and related enforcement mechanisms. Since March 2018, CLARITY has begun work on a project focusing on access to remedy improvements in business and human rights cases. On the other hand, the activities of the People’s Advocate Institution do not currently encompass the field of business and human rights at all. This means that the sporadic involvement of the Romanian NHRI in the field of business and human rights will in all likelihood diminish in the future.

To conclude, the field of business and human rights has not been at the top of the RIHR’s agenda in its almost thirty years of activity. Nor is this likely to change under the auspices of its successor – the People’s Advocate Institution. The latter institution does not have a mandate to handle human rights complaints against private companies, and the field of business and human rights is not in its sight. This forthcoming transfer of responsibility may therefore, at least in the short run, not be a good news for access to remedy in business and human rights cases in Romania.

National Human Rights Institutions as Gateways to Remedy under the UNGPs: The South African Human Rights Commission (Part.2) - By Alexandru Tofan

Editor's Note: Alexandru Rares Tofan recently graduated with an LLM in Transnational Law from King’s College London where he focused on international human rights law, transnational litigation and international law. He is currently an intern with the Doing Business Right project at the Asser Institute in The Hague. He previously worked as a research assistant at the Transnational Law Institute in London on several projects pertaining to human rights, labour law and transnational corporate conduct.


The South African Constitution provides in Chapter Nine for the creation of several institutions meant to strengthen constitutional democracy. The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is one of these institutions. Its constitutional mandate grants it authority to promote, protect, monitor and investigate non-compliance with human rights in South Africa (see s.181 (1) (b) jo. s.184 (1)-(4)). Alongside this constitutional basis, the SAHRC enjoys a legislative mandate in that it was established by the Human Rights Commission Act No 54 of 1994. This act was later repealed by the South African Human Rights Commission Act No 40 of 2013 (‘the Act’), which entered into force on 5 September 2014 and which currently governs the Commission jointly with the constitution. This act details the Commission’s functions and powers in sections 13 and 14. The SAHRC is empowered to make recommendations to state organs for the adoption of measures for the promotion and observance of human rights, undertake studies, request information, develop and conduct educational programmes, review and propose government policies and legislation relating to human rights, monitor implementation and compliance, and undertake investigations into allegations of human rights violations inter alia (see s.13 and 14 of the Act). The SAHRC is based in Johannesburg but it has regional offices in the other eight South African provinces as well.

This article analyses two types of action in order to observe the extent to which the SAHRC has assumed its role in promoting access to remedy in business and human rights cases. According to the 2010 Edinburgh Declaration of the International Co-ordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC), the participation of NHRIs in the remedial process may be either direct or indirect. As will be shown, the South African Human Rights Commission has adopted a far-reaching and comprehensive approach to both direct and indirect participation in the provision of access to remedy.

As to direct participation, the SAHRC’s mandate to receive, investigate and provide redress for human rights violations is governed both by the constitution and the Act. Section 184 (1) (b) of the Constitution dictates that the Commission must promote the protection of human rights while Section 184 (2) (a)-(b) states that it has powers to investigate and to take steps to secure appropriate redress where human rights have been violated. The Act further details that the Commission may resolve any dispute or rectify any act or omission emanating from or constituting a violation of or threat to any human rights (see s.14 (a) and (b)). It can do so by mediation, conciliation or a negotiation endeavour. The SAHRC published its updated complaints handling procedures on 1 January 2018. These reaffirm the Commission’s broad mandate in that they state that the SAHRC is competent to investigate any alleged violation of human rights whether upon receipt of a complaint or ex officio (see Article 3 (1)). Complaints may treat businesses as the offender without limitations as to the type of company or violation. The SAHRC may also institute legal proceedings in its own name or on behalf of a person or a group or class of persons (see s.13 (3) (b)). The case load of the Commission averaged 4633 complaints per year between 2012/13 – 2016/17 (see Table 1).

Under the UNGPs, NHRIs are supposed to offer an alternative to instituting legal proceedings. This is reflected in the practice of the SAHRC, which focuses on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms such as mediation, conciliation and negotiation. A trends analysis by the Commission has revealed the fact that ADR mechanisms have a high rate of successful resolution. For the period 2016-2017, 90% of the complaints addressed through ADR mechanisms were successfully resolved (see here at page 42 and 43). For this reason, the SAHRC’s approach to handling complaints relies first on negotiation and conciliation, and, if these fail, the Commission attempts to mediate the matter. Making use of the South African courts becomes in this sense the last resort. Moreover, the Commission has taken a preventive approach to the handling of grievances by conducting targeted investigations on systemic issues (see, e.g., the SAHRC’s national hearing on the underlying socio-economic challenges of mining-affected communities in South Africa). This extensive report does not only identify and analyse the underlying issues, but it also includes concrete recommendations as to what stakeholders could do to ensure access to remedy. For instance, the report states that it is worrisome that some mining companies do not have complaint monitoring and resolution mechanisms in place as per the UNGPs (see the Report on page 79). This practice resonates with the vision for NHRIs under the UNGPs, which note that gaps in the provision of remedy could be filled by mediation-based, adjudicative or other culturally appropriate and rights-compatible non-judicial mechanisms. Alongside its complaints procedure, the Commission further promoted access to remedy by acting as an amicus in various business and human rights cases (see for instance the case of University of Stellenbosch Legal Aid Clinic and Others v Minister of Justice and Correctional Services and Others).This, paired with its far-reaching complaints mechanisms, shows that the SAHRC plays a much wider role than the Dutch NHRI in providing direct  access to remedy for victims of business-related human rights abuses.

As to indirect participation, the South African Human Rights Commission is mandated to promote respect for human rights, monitor and assess the observance of human rights, carry out research and educate inter alia. In terms of business and human rights, the Commission has comprehensively grappled with these duties. The SAHRC participated in multiple international conferences devoted to discussing the role of NHRIs in the field of business and human rights. For instance, the Commission was one of the institutions that participated in the Global Alliance of NHRIs’ 2010 conference on the role of NHRIs in business and human rights. Similarly, in 2011 the Commission participated in the Network of African NHRIs in business and human rights, which resulted in the Yaoundé Declaration. This affirmed the collective commitment of NHRIs to strengthen their capacity on business and human rights and to address related human rights abuses. Nationally, the SAHRC carried out multiple awareness raising and educational initiatives. These include the hosting of the 2013 Business and Transparency Forum, the 2015 roundtable discussion on ‘Children’s Rights and Business Principles’, the 2016 conference ‘Access to Justice: Creating Access to Effective Remedies for Victims of Business Related Human Rights Violations’, and the 2018 ‘Business and Human Rights Dialogue’. The SAHRC focused on business and human rights as a key strategic focus area both in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 (see here at page 10). In March 2015, the SAHRC together with the Danish Institute for Human Rights published the ‘Human Rights and Business Country Guide for South Africa’, a highly comprehensive guide tackling all aspects of this field in South Africa. This guide notably includes information under each rights area about the remedy mechanisms available to redress violations and how these mechanisms can be bettered. In sum, the SAHRC’s indirect participation in the provision of access to remedy is quite extensive. It has been undertaking capacity-building exercises, educational programmes and it has established itself at the forefront of the business and human rights field in South Africa.

In conclusion, the South African Human Rights Commission has fully assumed the role envisioned for it under the UNGPs. As an NHRI, the Commission provides a holistic complaints procedure that functions on the full spectrum of human rights and regardless of the type of company. Alongside this, it has undertaken numerous educational programmes, published reports and conducted awareness raising initiatives that have shone a light on business-related human rights abuses in South Africa.

National Human Rights Institutions as Gateways to Remedy under the UNGPs: The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights (Part.1) - By Alexandru Tofan

Editor's Note: Alexandru Rares Tofan recently graduated with an LLM in Transnational Law from King’s College London where he focused on international human rights law, transnational litigation and international law. He is currently an intern with the Doing Business Right project at the Asser Institute in The Hague. He previously worked as a research assistant at the Transnational Law Institute in London on several projects pertaining to human rights, labour law and transnational corporate conduct.


The national human rights institution of the Netherlands is the College voor de Rechten van de Mens (i.e. ‘the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights’). It was established on 1 October 2012 with the entering into force of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights Act of 24 November 2011 as supplemented by the Explanatory Memorandum (EP). It is an independent public body whose mission is to promote, monitor and protect human rights in practice, policy and legislation (see NIHR Act s.1 (3)). For these purposes, it enjoys a wide competence that spans the full breadth of human rights whether stemming from national or international legislation (see EP at page 7). The Institute’s duties include conducting investigations, reporting and making recommendations, advising, providing information, encouraging research, pressing for the observance of internationally recognised human rights, and assessing any complaints alleging violations that it may have received (see NIHR Act s.3). The types of complaints it may entertain are nevertheless rather limited – the Institute may only investigate claims alleging discrimination or unequal treatment (see NIHR Act s.10 (1)).

This article analyses two types of actions in order to assess the extent to which the Institute has assumed its role in promoting access to remedy in business and human rights cases. According to the 2010 Edinburgh Declaration of the International Co-ordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC), the participation of NHRIs in the remedial process may be either direct or indirect. As will be shown, the Dutch NHRI is envisioned as an institution that leans more on indirect rather than direct participation in providing access to remedy.

In terms of direct participation, the complaints procedure of the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights has a rather narrow scope. Section 10 of the Act stipulates that the Institute may conduct investigations into allegations of violations in so far as they relate to discrimination or unequal treatment under the Equal Treatment Act, the Equal Treatment (Men and Women) Act or Article 646, Book 7 of the Dutch Civil Code. Although the complaint may be submitted against any type of Dutch-based company (see S. 10 (2) (a)–(e)), the limited subject matter jurisdiction prevents the Institute from being a one-stop shop for business-related human rights abuses. This is especially true for transnational corporate misconduct, which normally entails cross-cutting/intersectional human rights abuses. In the same vein, the Institute may only bring a legal action before the courts if this claim relates to discrimination under the aforementioned legislation (see S.13). The Memorandum attached to the Act explains that ‘[…] [g]iven the legal protection already available in the Netherlands and the possibility of lodging a complaint with an ombudsman the government sees no good reason to give the Institute its own jurisdiction to hear legal actions in the broad field of human rights […]’ and that ‘[…] [i]n response to a complaint, the National Ombudsman may investigate whether or not the state has acted properly […] To prevent overlapping it is therefore undesirable for this responsibility to be given to the Institute […]’. The National Ombudsman may nevertheless only exercise authority over public bodies (see Article 1a). In turn, this means that complaints lodged against private actors arguing violations of human rights other than discrimination escape both the Institute and the National Ombudsman. While it is true that the general legal protection available in the Netherlands would apply in those cases, the role of the NHRI as a complementary grievance mechanism is in this way restricted. Under the UNGPs, NHRIs are supposed to offer an alternative to instituting legal proceedings. The rationale behind this is that bringing a legal action may involve many obstacles for the victim such as prohibitive costs, imbalance of expertise between parties, lack of standing for foreign nationals, and protracted duration. Conversely, an NHRI complaints mechanism is perceived as more accessible, expeditious and culturally-appropriate.[1] The limited subject matter jurisdiction of the Institute in handling complaints may therefore be seen as impeding its full direct participation in providing access to remedy.

As to indirect participation, one of the main tasks of the Institute is to promote and monitor human rights (see S.3). The Institute has a rather robust presence in the area of business and human rights in the Netherlands and performs an important role in promoting human rights in this policy area. For instance, the Institute drew up a comprehensive response to the National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights put forward by the Dutch government in December 2013. This response entailed an in-depth examination of the plan’s compatibility with the UNGPs as well as advice and recommendations for its improvement. Notably, it included a rights-based approach in that it looked at the issue of access to remedy from the victims’ perspectives. The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights further advised the government on the proposed law on child labour in supply chains, the human rights implications of the new model bilateral investment treaty, and it partook in the discussions regarding the national sector covenants (e.g. the Agreement on Sustainable Garments and Textile). It further participates in the annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights alongside other stakeholders. Furthermore, the cross-cutting nature of business-related human rights abuses means that they permeate the Institute’s work in other policy areas. For instance, the Institute’s work on the right to housing implies the usage of the UNGPs as a framework to ascertain the human rights responsibilities of housing corporations. In the same vein, one of the four themes from the Institute’s Strategy Plan for 2016-2019 is discrimination and stereotyping in the labour market. This necessarily involves an assessment of the human rights obligations of corporations. The Institute has therefore assumed a firm standing in terms of indirect participation in the implementation of the UNGPs. It promotes education, monitors human rights implementation, undertakes capacity-building exercises, advises and issues recommendations. Nevertheless, one cannot help but notice the absence of business and human rights from the Institute’s Strategic Plan for 2016-2019.

To conclude, the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights seems to have only partially assumed the role envisioned for it under the UNGPs as a national human rights institution. On the one hand, it did establish itself as a focal point for expertise on human rights issues in the Netherlands and has taken important steps to promote and advise on issues of business and human rights. On the other hand, a broader mandate would conform more to the second leg of the Paris Principles and to the spirit and aim of the Third Pillar of the UNGPs – the protection of human rights by receiving, investigating and resolving complaints.


[1]           UN Human Rights Council, ‘Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and Other Business Enterprises – Protect, Respect and Remedy: A Framework for Business and Human Rights’ (7 April 2008) A/HRC/8/5 at page 25.

Doing Business Right – Monthly Report – December 2018 & January 2019 - By Shamistha Selvaratnam

Editor’s note: Shamistha Selvaratnam is a LLM Candidate of the Advanced Masters of European and International Human Rights Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands and a contributor to the Doing Business Right project of the Asser Institute. Prior to commencing the LLM, she worked as a business and human rights solicitor in Australia where she specialised in promoting business respect for human rights through engagement with policy, law and practice.

 

Introduction

This report compiles all relevant news, events and materials on Doing Business Right based on the coverage provided on our twitter feed @DoinBizRight and on various websites. You are invited to contribute to this compilation via the comments section below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we may have overlooked.

 

The Headlines

German court rejects KiK lawsuit

On 10 January 2019, a regional court in Dortmund, Germany rejected a lawsuit brought by four affected Pakistanis that related to the death of 262 people and injury of 32 people at a Pakistani textile factory in 2012. The factory was a key supplier to German clothing company, KiK. The case was rejected on the basis that the statute of limitations had expired, despite computer simulation evidence demonstrating that inadequate safety measures were in place at the factory at the time, including no stairs and emergency exits, as well as a lack of fire extinguishers and fire alarms. It was argued that KiK ‘knew or should have known about the structural details if, as they claim, their representatives visited the factory several times’. Read more here and here.

Canadian Supreme Court hears Nevsun appeal

On 23 January 2019, the Canadian Supreme Court heard evidence involving a lawsuit involving Nevsun Resources, a Canadian mining company, which is accused of being complicit in using forced labour by one if its sub-contractors at the Bisha mine in Eritrea. The case was initially brought in 2014 by four Eritrean miners.

In 2016, the British Colombian Supreme Court rejected Nevsun’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which was upheld by the British Colombian Court of Appeal in 2017. In 2018, the Canadian Supreme Court allowed Nevsun to appeal the decision of the British Colombian Court of Appeal with the trial being heard earlier this year. The Canadian Supreme Court will need to decide, inter alia, whether it has jurisdiction to hear cases involving alleged breaches of customary international law by a Canadian business involving its actions in a foreign country. Read more here.

Canada introduces bill regulating forced labour and child labour within businesses

On 13 December 2018 a private members bill was introduced in Canada titled ‘C-423 – An Act respecting the fight against certain forms of modern slavery through the imposition of certain measures and amending the Customs Tariff’ (the Bill) to regulate forced labour and child labour in businesses. The Bill requires certain entities[1] to provide the Minister with an annual modern slavery report that sets out the steps it has taken to ‘prevent and reduce the risk that forced labour or child labour is used at any step of the manufacture, production, growing, extraction or processing of goods in Canada or elsewhere by the entity or of goods imported into Canada by the entity.’ Other criteria that must be included in the report includes the entity’s policies in relation to forced labour and child labour and the training provided to employees on these areas. The Bill carries penalties for non-compliance; namely, the relevant entity may be liable of an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to a fine of up to $250,000.

UK releases report with recommendations to improve transparency in supply chains provision of Modern Slavery Act

The Independent Review of the UK Modern Slavery Act recently released an interim report. The report notes that the UK Government’s current approach to eradicating modern slavery in supply chains through the transparency in supply chains provision ‘while a step forward, is not sufficient’. Among other things, the report recommends that the UK Government should take the following action to improve its approach to addressing modern slavery in supply chains:

  • Establish an internal list of companies in scope of the transparency in supply chains provision and check with companies whether they are covered by the legislation.
  • Amend the option reporting criteria against which businesses may report, so that they are mandatory criteria against which businesses must report.
  • Set up a central government-run repository to which companies are required to upload their statements and that is easily accessible to the public, free of charge.
  • Empower the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner to monitor compliance and report annually.
  • Strengthen the Modern Slavery Act’s approach to tackling non-compliance with the reporting requirement, adopting a gradual approach. For example, initial warnings, fines (as a percentage of turnover), court summons and directors’ disqualification.
  • Introduce sanctions gradually over the next few years so as to give businesses time to adapt to changes in the legislative requirements.
  • Set up or assign an enforcement body to impose sanctions on non-compliant companies.

 More...

Towards reforming the fair and equitable treatment standard in International Investment Agreements - By Dr. Yulia Levashova & Prof. Tineke Lambooy (Nyenrode Business University)

Introduction

One of the most important pillars of investment protection under international law is the understanding that a foreign investor investing in a host state should be treated ‘fairly and equitably.’ The importance of this notion is supported by the inclusion of the fair and equitable treatment (FET) standard in most of the International Investment Agreements (IIAs), as well as its invocation in the vast majority of investment disputes. However, the concern has been expressed frequently that a broad interpretation of this usually openly formulated provision has an adverse impact on the host state’s ‘right to regulate’ in the public interest. These concerns have been voiced particularly as a result of FET claims in which investors have challenged a variety of state decisions in publicly sensitive areas, e.g. renewable energy, waste management, public health issues, and access to water. In this regard, tribunals have often been criticised for attaching insufficient weight in their assessment of the FET standard to a host state’s right to regulate and its duty to fulfil its obligations under other international treaties, such as human rights and environmental treaties.More...

Doing Business Right – Monthly Report – September 2018 - By Shamistha Selvaratnam

Editor’s note: Shamistha Selvaratnam is a LLM Candidate of the Advanced Masters of European and International Human Rights Law at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Prior to commencing the LLM, she worked as a business and human rights solicitor in Australia where she specialised in promoting business respect for human rights through engagement with policy, law and practice.


Introduction

This report compiles all relevant news, events and materials on Doing Business Right based on the coverage provided on our twitter feed @DoinBizRight and on various websites. You are invited to contribute to this compilation via the comments section below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we may have overlooked.

The Headlines

Chevron Corporation and Texaco Petroleum Company v The Republic of Ecuador

On 30 August 2018 an international tribunal administered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague issued an award in favour of Chevron Corporation and Texaco Petroleum Company, holding that the Republic of Ecuador had violated its obligations under international treaties, investment agreements and international law. The tribunal found that a $9.5 billion judgment handed down by Ecuador’s Supreme Court in the Lago Agrio case was procured through fraud, bribery and corruption. It also found that the Republic of Ecuador had already released the claims that formed the basis of the judgment years before. The tribunal concluded that the fraudulent Ecuadorian judgment is “not final, enforceable, or conclusive under Ecuadorian and international law” and therefore cannot be enforced within or outside of Ecuador and that it “violates international public policy and natural justice”.

Draft Optional Protocol to Business and Human Rights Treaty

On 4 September 2018 the Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva presented the ‘Draft Optional Protocol To The Legally Binding Instrument To Regulate, In International Human Rights Law, The Activities Of Transnational Corporations And Other Business Enterprises’ (Optional Protocol). The Optional Protocol focuses on ensuring State Parties to the Optional Protocol establish mechanisms that provide access to remedy for victims of human rights violations in the context of business activities of a transnational character. It also provides individuals and group with the ability to make communications to the Committee of experts. More...