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Weekly Update - 27 Aug 2014

Lead Story

“Time for action: Business & human rights in Greater China”

  • Business & Human Rights Resource Centre briefing analyses over 220 approaches to companies in Greater China region regarding human rights, environmental concerns
  • 50% of Chinese firms responded to concerns, compared with 77% of non-Chinese firms operating in or sourcing from the region
  • when Chinese firms do respond, they are more likely to do so in significant detail (52% versus 38%)
  • includes op-ed by Lowell Chow, our Greater China Researcher & Representative, in South China Morning Post

Asia & Pacific
Europe & Central Asia
Middle East & North Africa
"How social media is fighting back" against terrorist propaganda after killing of journalist

Christian Science Monitor (USA), Guardian (UK), Atlantic (USA)

  • includes discussion of risk that Internet firms’ limits on content from violent groups may violate freedom of expression
Trial starts in US lawsuit against Arab Bank over alleged complicity in terrorist attacks in Israel


Reminder: UN Working Group state survey on UN Guiding Principles & online public consultation on national action plans open until 1 Sep
So. African community organizations appeal against Dept. of Mineral Resources’ decision to grant mining rights to Platreef Resources 

Lawyers for Human Rights

  • appeal cites food security & livelihood concerns
US Govt’s OPIC agency investigates rubber & energy project it funded in Liberia over human rights concerns

Accountability Counsel

  • received hundreds of complaints of abuses, including of water contamination, loss of livelihoods & serious harms to workers' rights
Police alleged to have killed more villagers in clashes at Tanzanian mine owned by Barrick Gold, say MiningWatch Canada, RAID & Leigh Day - includes company comments

Globe & Mail (Canada)

Nigerian oil spill agency chair says Niger Delta communities paying "huge price" to sustain country's oil & gas production

Daily Independent (Nigeria)

UN envoy says charcoal sales to Gulf nations funding militant attacks in Somalia

Agence France-Presse

Liberian company, Global Logistics, joins Ebola fight by waiving importation charges on medical materials

Monrovia Inquirer (Liberia)

USA: Earthjustice & others urge govt. to do more to protect farm workers from pesticides

News-Press (Florida, USA)

  • agricultural workers suffer 20,000 acute poisonings from pesticides each year, elevated risk of cancer
  • environmental agency proposes new protections but advocates say mooted rules are insufficient
Brazil: Fishermen reportedly losing livelihoods due to oil & shipping companies; Petrobras says it "appropriately compensates" them

 Brazzil Mag

Mexico environmental agency files criminal complaint against copper mining companies, Buena Vista del Cobre & Minera Mexico, over acid spill that contaminated drinking water, forced schools to close


USA: Microsoft leaves business org. ALEC, reportedly in split over climate change & renewable energy


Commentary: US labour law must address companies' responsibility for working conditions at subcontractors, franchises

Amy Dean, on Al Jazeera

Brazil: 14 migrant workers are rescued from slave-like conditions in As Marias textile factory; includes company comments

UOL (Brazil)

  • only available in Portuguese: Brasil: 14 trabalhadores da confecção As Marias em situação análoga à de escravos são resgatados; inclui comentários da empresa 
USA: Macy’s settles allegations of racial profiling of customers for $650,000; includes company statement


Asia & Pacific
So. Korea: Concerns that AkzoNobel Powder Coatings Korea denied workers' right to collective bargaining


  • we invited AkzoNobel to respond; response provided
India: Villagers protest against mining by Mahan Coal Limited in Mahan forest citing livelihood concerns

Firstpost, Greenpeace, Pioneer, Responding to Climate Change

  • Greenpeace alleges villagers opposing the project are being threatened ahead of vote on future of mining project
  • we invited Mahan Coal to respond; response provided
Cambodia: Phnom Penh Sugar accuses NGO of causing “irreparable damage” to Senator’s/owner’s reputation; NGOs stand by claims of Senator’s links to rights abuses

Equitable Cambodia, Building Community Voices, Housing Rights Task Force, Community Peace-Building Network, LICADHO, Community Legal Education Center & Inclusive Development Intl.; Cambodia Daily

  • relates to alleged forced evictions by Phnom Penh Sugar
  • company placed statements in major Cambodian newspapers singling out comments by Eang Vuthy, Executive Director of Equitable Cambodia
  • NGOs release joint statement in support of Eang Vuthy
Myanmar: Telenor uncovers child labour among its suppliers after over 700 unannounced health & safety inspections

Financial Times

Food Navigator highlights need for human rights due diligence when doing business in Southeast Asia

Trades Union Congress (TUC) again urges Thai Pineapple Industry Association to tell Natural Fruit to withdraw charges against rights defender Andy Hall & enter into dialogue
  • see background on this case
India: Activists claim Coca-Cola forced to abandon expansion plans due to their protests re access to water

India Resource Centre; The Hindu

  • company cites inordinate delay in receiving environmental approvals as reason for decision 
India: Starvation deaths highlight tea workers' conditions at closed tea plantations in West Bengal

The Hindu; Times News Network; Thomson Reuters; Nazdeek; Press Trust of India

  • nearly 100 workers are alleged to have died due to starvation
Indonesia: Human Rights Commission’s series of public hearings on alleged abuses of indigenous land rights to begin in Palu, Sulawesi

Loren Bell, Mongabay 

  • includes cases where oil palm plantations, mining claims were established without consent of affected people
China: Passengers sue Spring Airlines over alleged refusal to carry HIV-positive passengers


Bangladesh: IndustriALL & its members implement a project to increase union membership of garment workers in factories


  • working with employer Masco Cotton to develop constructive relationship
Thailand: March demanding energy reform, including removal of coal from country strategy, met with arrests

Thai PBS, Bangkok Post (Thailand)

Japan: Govt. panel rules TEPCO senior managers can be prosecuted for Fukushima nuclear disaster

Tokyo Web

Europe & Central Asia
UK Govt. announces mining, gas & oil companies will have to report on payments they make to governments in all countries they operate in from 1 January 2015

UK Dept. for Business, Innovation & Skills; Publish What You Pay

  • Publish What You Pay welcomes news but worries draft regulations allow Secretary of State to block prosecution of companies that don’t fully report
Azerbaijan: Business, human rights, and the Baku 2015 European Games


  • "The 2015 European Games in Azerbaijan: Human Rights Violations Already"
Further to last week's Update: Intl. Service for Human Rights calls on UN Working Group to focus on human rights defenders during Azerbaijan visit
  • commentary by Access on UN Working Group visit also provided
Thousands protest coal mining at German-Polish border


  • protesters say coal mining will destroy villages, contribute to climate change
  • statements by PGE, Vattenfall included 
UK: G4S, Serco, Mitie & GEO accused of using detained immigrants as "cheap labour"

Guardian (UK)

  • article includes comments by Serco & UK Home Office on behalf of companies 
Campaign calls on EU to strengthen conflict minerals regulation

Guardian (UK)

Bulgaria: 1 dead, 1 injured in elevator accident; Vitosha Lift denies poor quality of repairs is to blame


Middle East & North Africa
Companies accused of profiting from Palestinian deaths in Gaza through supply of arms to Israeli Govt.


  • we invited companies named in the article to respond: Selex Galileo (part of Finmeccanica Group) responded; UAV Engines (part of Elbit Systems) & Raytheon did not
  • Schleifring Systems (part of Schleifring und Apparatebau) has not yet responded - we will indicate in next week's Ypdate whether it responds
Unions accuse pharmaceutical company Deva Holding (part of EastPharma), of union busting in Turkey 


  • we invited Deva Holding/EastPharma to respond; we will indicate in next week's Update whether it responds
Bahrain: Govt. announces plans to overhaul trade laws to improve human rights protections, increase cooperation with UN human rights bodies (Saudi Arabia)

Company responses Non-responses
Reminder: Africa Regional Forum on Business & Human Rights - Addis Ababa, 16-18 Sep
  • deadline for registration: 1 Sep
Other forthcoming events
  • conference on ecological sustainability and social equity (Leipzig, 2 Sep)
  • "The Hague Conference on Business and Human Security" (The Hague, 2 Sep)
  • seminar on transparency and good governance (Melbourne, 4 Sep)
  • due diligence in the private security industry - webinar (9 Sep)
  • corporations, global food system and human rights (Oslo, 11-12 Sep)
  • human trafficking, human rights and business - webinar (16 Sep)
  • workshop: practical guide to business and human rights (London, 17 Sep)
  • conference on CSR & the legal profession (London,18-19 Sep)
  • course on implementation of UNGPs by businesses (Frankfurt, 23 Sep)
  • gender equality, human rights and business - webinar (24 Sep)
  • business engagement workshop on IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (Washington DC, 25 Sep) 
  • training course on stakeholder engagement (Frankfurt, 25 Sep)
Details of these and future events can be found here.
Please send relevant event information to Sam Whannel:
We are a recruiting a Middle East & North Africa Researcher (deadline 31 Aug) and a Corporate Accountability and Communications Officer (deadline 28 Aug)

Current vacancies Further details and other recently posted jobs available here.
Please send job announcements to Sam Whannel:
Colombia: Nuevo atentado contra dirigente sindical petrolero de firma Weatherford

Unión Sindical Obrera de la Industria del Petróleo, USO

  • Invitamos a la empresa a responder, pero no lo hizo
México: Masivo derrame de tóxicos en mina del Grupo México condenado por organizaciones; legisladores proponen acciones penales por daños al derecho al agua de la población

El Universal, Movimiento Mexicana de Afectados por las Presas y en Defensa de los Ríos (MAPDER), Red Mexicana de Afectados por la Minería (REMA),

  • Incluímos declaraciones del Grupo México
Chile: Autoridades ambientales multan a Endesa por incumplir legislación ambiental en termoeléctrica

 La Tercera

Perú: Curso Virtual - "Derecho a la consulta previa de los pueblos indígenas"

Defensoría del Pueblo

Colombia: Organizaciones ambientalistas dicen, ante mesa de conversaciones de paz, que “megaproyectos de desarrollo son parte del conflicto armado”

Movimiento Ríos Vivos Colombia

México: Lanzan iniciativa “Los Derechos del Niño y Principios Empresariales en México”

Argentina: Experto de Unicef dice que las empresas aún deben asumir desafíos para cumplir con los derechos de la infancia


Rappel : Forum régional africain sur les entreprises et les droits de l'homme, 16-18 sept., Addis-Abeba
  • date limite pour s'enregistrer : 1 sept.
Centrafrique : 25 morts dans l'effondrement d'une mine d'or contrôlée par des éléments de l'ex-coalition rebelle Séléka

Agence France-Presse

Bangladesh : Des ONG se félicitent de la participation d’Auchan au fonds d’indemnisation des victimes du Rana Plaza mais jugent le montant « insuffisant »

Collectif Ethique sur l’étiquette, Peuples Solidaires et Sherpa 

Côte d'Ivoire : Nestlé finance de nombreux programmes afin de lutter contre le travail des enfants dans les plantations de cacao

Agence Ivoirienne de Presse dans (Côte d'Ivoire) 

Sanofi soutient la lutte contre le paludisme en Afrique en proposant un nouveau médicament à un prix abordable 

La Croix (France)

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre takes no position on the views presented by commentators, organisations and companies in the materials listed in this email or linked to in our website. As with any library, our purpose is to provide access to a wide selection of materials representing diverse viewpoints on matters of public interest. We do not exercise any editorial control over the materials and do not vouch for their accuracy.

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