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Weekly Update - 20 May 2015

Lead Story
Philippines: At least 72 dead after fire at Kentex footwear factory in Manila
  • fire exposes exploitative working conditions, including lax health & safety standards, long working hours, exposure to harmful chemicals
  • Kentex says its will compensate survivors & victims' families
  • “The lessons of Rana Plaza have still not been learned”, says UN Working Group on business & human rights

(credit: Microtexnano, Wikipedia)
Asia & Pacific
Europe & Central Asia
Middle East & North Africa

Paris Climate Week: Call for business to step up climate action

Climate Group; Oxfam America; BBC; Business Green; Climate Action Network

  • French foreign minister & executive secretary of UN Framework Convention on Climate Change urge, "global businesses must lead the way on climate action" 
  • Oxfam America says strong commitments are in the interest of both business & those living in poverty
  • global civil society network organises action for a "just transition" from fossil fuels
  • Unilever CEO calls on govts. to set clear targets for carbon reduction
  • industry group Cefic allegedly tries to weaken business support for climate action
Update on UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework: Examples of uses & reactions


  • refers to Ericsson's first report under the framework, Unilever's upcoming human rights report; H&M, Nestlé and Newmont's collaboration with Shift on reporting
Chinese premier Li Keqiang visits Brazil, Chile, Peru and Colombia

Diálogo Chino, Guardian

  • concerns over social, environmental impacts of Chinese-backed infrastructure projects, including proposed 5,300km Brazil-Peru railway
Report analyses Nokia's adverse impacts on workers, including in India & Mexico


  • we invited Nokia to respond - it declined
Commentary: Opportunities & challenges for new mobile technologies to support & protect human rights defenders

Tanya O'Carrol, Amnesty Intl., on Ethical Consumer (UK)

Cameroon: Report highlights lack of transparency & access to information in  agro-industrial sector

Centre pour l'Environnement et le Développement; Intl. Institute for Environment & Development

Senegalese NGOs file complaint with Swedish OECD Natl. Contact Point alleging social & environmental impacts of coal power plant

Lumière Synergie pour le Développement & Takkom Jerry Polyvalence Culturelle et Environnmentale

  • we invited Nykomb Synergetics Development to respond - response provided
Angola: Rafael Marques trial resumes over book on abuses in diamond mining - companies urge govt. to drop charges
  • Tiffany Co., Leber Jeweler, Brilliant Earth sign open statement in support of Rafael Marques
Further to last week's Update: Tullow Oil responds to concerns about indigenous peoples' access to remedy in Kenya
Salvadoran experts urge Canadians to challenge dispute settlement provisions enabling investors to sue govts. over social & environmental policies

Council of Canadians; Common Dreams

USA: Draft bill in California seeks to increase transparency of agribusiness exporting from Mexico; companies would be required to check for labour abuses‏

Los Angeles Times

"Countdown to Rio Olympics: Legal avenues to hold companies accountable essential to empower vulnerable communities"

Julia Neiva & Sif Thorgeirsson, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Asia & Pacific
India: Govt. passes amendments to child labour law sparking concerns about potential for increased exploitation

NDTV (India); Express News Service; Hindustan Times; Business Standard; Firstpost

Myanmar: Court sentences 6 advocates opposing Wanbao's Letpadaung mine to 4 years in prison

Agence France-Presse

Pakistan: IndustriALL accuses Syngenta of firing union leader for organising
  • we invited Syngenta to respond - response provided
Commentary: Are human rights being side-lined to make way for ASEAN economic integration?

Irene Pietropaoli, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

Further to last week's Update: Holcim responds to allegations of sponsoring military propaganda & rehabilitation camps linked to torture in Sri Lanka
Europe & Central Asia
EU Parliament passes regulation on conflict minerals 
  • 157 NGOs call for mandatory supply chain due diligence & reporting for all companies ahead of 20 May vote
  • video: Richard Howitt, EU CSR Rapporteur, urges strong regulation
NGOs form watchdog coalition to monitor EU's Better Regulation reforms, citing concerns about harm to workers' & consumers' rights

EurActiv (Belgium)

Report finds 81% of German companies aim to hold subsidiaries abroad to same social standards as in Germany


  • full report only available in German
Middle East & North Africa
Egypt: NGO raises concerns about potential displacement of 5,000 families in Muntazah to convert land into real estate projects

Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights

Govts. in UAE & Qatar restrict media coverage of exploitative working conditions

Middle East Eye; Blouin Artinfo

  • BBC reporters arrested in Qatar while investigating migrant worker abuses
  • Gulf Labour artists barred from UAE after criticising working conditions
Company responses Non-responses
Event: "Climate Change & Intl. Human Rights Law: The Challenges for Business" (London, 27 May; RSVP by 22 May)

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre; Notre Dame Univ. Law School

Final reminder: 2 internships at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (deadline: 25 May)

Call for input: Handbook on redress mechanisms applicable for human rights abuses by EU firms abroad

Human Rights in Business

Forthcoming events:
  • e-learning course on corporate social responsibility (online, 20 May-30 June)
  • Business & Climate Summit 2015 (Paris, 20-21 May)
  • course on business & human rights development (Copenhagen, 26-27 May)
  • debate: what divestment from fossil fuels means for business (London, 26 May)
  • "Climate Change & Intl. Human Rights Law: The Challenges for Business" (London, 27 May)
Details of these and other events further in the future can be found here.  Please send relevant event information to Alex Janczenia:  
Current vacancies: Further details and other recently posted jobs available here.  Please send job announcements to Alex Janczenia:  
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