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Weekly Update - 14 December 2016

Lead Story
Indonesia: Report links global brands to forced labour & other abuses in palm oil plantations

Amnesty Intl.

(photo credit: Rainforest Action Network, via Flickr)
  • includes responses from ADM, AFAMSA, Colgate-Palmolive, Elevance, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez, Nestlé, Procter & Gamble, Reckitt Benckiser, TSH Resources Berhad, Unilever & Wilmar
  • we approached Abdi Budi Mulia & Best Group, suppliers of Wilmar, the world’s largest processor & merchandiser of palm oil, for a response: Abdi Budi Mulia did not respond, Best Group could not be reached 
From us
Asia & Pacific
Europe & Central Asia
Middle East & No. Africa
From Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
KnowTheChain's forced labour ranking of apparel & footwear companies finds need for worker engagement
  • adidas & Gap among highest scoring companies; Prada & Belle Intl. Holdings (largest women's shoes retailer in China) among lowest-scoring
  • sector tends to have systems in place to monitor first-tier suppliers, but lacks action in lower tiers, on recruitment & worker voice
Blog: What do Qatar's kafala reforms mean for company action on migrant rights?

Mariam Bhacker, Project Manager - migrant workers in the Gulf construction industry

New lawsuit profile: Residents of Wadi al-Qamar in Egypt sue Alexandria Portland Cement Co. over health & environmental impacts of coal in cement production

We're hiring an Administration & Programme Support Officer (based in London, deadline 11 Jan)
Intl. Human Rights Defenders Day: Role of business in protecting civic freedoms & human rights defenders Latest news on National Action Plans to implement UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
  • Switzerland adopts Natl. Action Plan (available in French & German; English & Italian versions to be released in next few weeks)
  • USA to release Natl. Action Plan on 16 Dec - follow livestream & updates
  • Italy to release Natl. Action Plan in Dec
LafargeHolcim accused of labour rights abuses worldwide in global day of action organised by IndustriAll union federation

IndustriALL Global Union, Building and Wood Workers' Intl. & European Federation of Building and Woodworkers

  • we invited LafargeHolcim to respond; response provided
Policy paper: Global "race to the bottom" on corporate tax rates harms public through affecting funds available for healthcare, education & tackling poverty


Commentary: Lack of agreed objective of proposed business & human rights treaty will undermine negotiations

Gosia Pearson, European Commission, on Oxford Human Rights Hub


Further to our previous update: PepsiCo responds to intl. union rejoinder regarding labour rights issues in supply chain in Guatemala, India, Pakistan
Olam creating "black box" of palm oil from unknown sources, fuelling deforestation "from Gabon to Indonesia" - NGO report

Mighty (USA); Brainforest (Gabon); Eco-Business; Straits Times; BBC

  • report also cites human rights abuses in Olam's supply chain
  • with responses by Olam, Temasek (Singapore sovereign wealth fund, majority owner of Olam)
Conflict diamonds from Central African Rep. entering intl. trade & certification by Kimberley Process via Cameroon, says NGO

Partnership Africa Canada; Mineweb; Rapaport News

Botswana: Communities say they may take govt. to court over failure to prevent alleged environmental pollution & destruction of livelihoods due to mining

Weekend Post (Botswana)

USA: Human rights & environmental NGOs raise concerns over nomination of ExxonMobil CEO as Secretary of State

Human Rights Watch; Global Witness; Mashable; Salon; New Yorker

  • cite company's efforts to undermine transparency laws, "questionable transactions" with repressive govts. including Angola, Chad, Equatorial Guinea
  • concerns also include ExxonMobil's support for climate denial & dirty tar sands development, although the company now supports Paris Climate Agreement
USA: Corporate Equality Index scores record number of companies full marks for having inclusive policies for LGBT workers

Human Rights Campaign

  • 12 of the top 20 Fortune-ranked companies receive 100% rating
Guatemala: Indigenous communities protest against hydroelectric projects by Grupo Cobra over lack of consultation, environmental harms & conflict

Waging NonViolence (USA)

Asia & Pacific
Philippines: Commission on Human Rights announces public hearings in inquiry into fossil fuels firms over climate & human rights impacts

Greenpeace Philippines

China: Court hears lawsuit by fishermen against ConocoPhillips over impacts of oil spill on livelihood

Crienglish (China)

Malaysia: Samsung ends contract with foreign labour company following reports of serious abuse of migrant workers' rights

Daily Caller


China: Workers go on strike over concerns about worsening working conditions & welfare as foreign companies sell their stake to local firms


  • cites sales by Sony, by Coca-Cola of bottling plants to local firms incl. Chinese state-owned Cofco
China: Environmentalists celebrate as plans to build dam on country's last free-flowing river are shelved by govt. - say dam would have displaced thousands

Guardian (UK)

Europe & Central Asia
UK: Member of Parliament's report compares working conditions at Uber & "gig economy" to Victorian time "sweated labour"

Frank Field, member of the British Parliament & Andrew Forsey; Guardian (UK)

Poland: Court revokes permit for new coal plant following public opposition to environmental impacts & inadequate consultation


Further to our previous update: Eagle Hills did not respond to concerns about lack of transparency & public consultation in Belgrade Waterfront project
Middle East & North Africa
Qatar: Labour reforms come into effect, commentators warn change is insufficient

Al Watan; Amnesty Intl.; Intl. Trade Union Confederation; Migrant Rights; Qatar News Agency; Guardian (UK);  Kathmandu Post

Company responses Non-responses
Forthcoming events:
  • breakfast briefing on transparency - pros, cons, impacts, issues (15 Dec, London)
  • release of US Natl. Action Plan (16 Dec, Washington DC & online)
  • course on human rights & Asia, inc. business & human rights (9-20 Jan, Seoul)
  • online course on decent work in global supply chains (starts 12 Jan, online)
  • two-day course for lawyers on privacy rights (23-24 Jan, apply by 20 Dec, London)
Details of these and other events further in the future can be found here.  Please send relevant event information to Alex Janczenia:  
Administration & Programme Support Officer at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (based in London, deadline 11 Jan)

Other current vacancies:
  • Accountability Counsel (Research Associate)
  • Bernard & Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights & Justice, Univ. of Texas (Fellowship in Human Rights & Justice) 
  • Clean Clothes Campaign (Campaign Strategist & Public Outreach Coordinator)
  • Human Rights Watch (Business & Human Rights Internships)
  • Verité (Senior Director, Program Strategy & Impact)
Further details and other recently posted jobs available here.  To submit a new job announcement in business & human rights please go here.
We take no position on views by commentators, organizations & companies in the materials in this email:
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