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Resource Link List #4

This is the fourth in a series of posts highlighting useful resources relevant to business and human rights disputes.

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As the sun sets on this Parliament, a Joint Committee recommended more legislation on business and human rights (Credit: Michael Levine-Clark under Creative Commons)

  • In October 2016, Amnesty and the International Corporate Accountability Roundtable published the “Corporate Crimes Principles:  Advancing Investigations and Prosecutions in Human Rights Cases.” Two years of work by a panel of experts is distilled into 10 principles (with commentary) to which public authorities should refer to improve the prospects of criminal liability for corporate involvement in human rights violations.
  • January 2017 saw the publication of a full report titled “Human Rights in Business: Removal of Barriers to Access to Justice in the European Union” (the summary was released last year). This is the product of a two-year project funded by the EU’s Civil Justice Programme. There are comprehensive chapters on jurisdiction, applicable law and duties of care.
  • In February 2017, the European Parliament’s Director General for External Policies published a study on the “Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights”. The study focuses on national actions plans. It notes that progress is slow, with only 12 adopted since 2011.
  • On 21 February 2017, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights discussed a draft General Comment on State obligations under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in the context of business activities. The Committee is a group of 18 independent experts and monitors the implementation of the Covenant. The draft General Comment is here with submissions and observations here.
  • On 16 March 2017, Clifford Chance and the Global Business Initiative on Human Rights published “Access to Remedy: the Next Frontier?” It includes a useful run-through of recent policy and legislative developments, including cases in Canada and the UK, and non-judicial mechanisms.
  • On 5 April 2017, a UK Parliamentary Committee published its assessment of the UK’s approach to business and human rights issues. The report covers a variety of areas in 80 pages. Among the proposals put forward is a recommendation that the Government should legislate to impose a duty of care on companies, including parent companies, to prevent human rights abuses; with a failure to do so being a criminal offence.
  • On 10 April 2017, the EU’s “Fundamental Rights Agency” published an Opinion titled “Improving access to remedy in the area of business and human rights at the EU level”. It followed a request from the EU Council to look at ways to lower barriers to remedies. The Opinion covers judicial and non-judicial remedies. Alessandra De Tommaso provided a summary here.
  • On 18 April 2017, an international civil society initiative calling itself the Monsanto Tribunal published its advisory opinion on Monsanto’s alleged responsibility in relation to six issues. The full opinion (only 60 pages) is here.
  • On 20 April 2017, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre released its annual briefing on corporate legal accountability. It highlights threats faced by human rights defenders and includes a snapshot of cases in various jurisdictions.
  • On 27 April 2017, the secretariat of the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights (to be held in November 2017)  published  an “informal note” summarising projects on access to remedy for business-related human rights violations. It’s a table with links to projects in the UN system and elsewhere. There is an invitation to submit information on additional projects.
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